Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Take a Hint Already, Balsillie

For those who don't know, the man pictured above is Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Research in Motion, makers of the Blackberry. To put it quite simply, homeboy is crazy rich. He's also a massive hockey fan.

Over the last couple of years, Balsillie has tried and failed on three separate occasions to purchase fledgling NHL franchises and move them to Southern Ontario, specifically Hamilton. On three separate occasions, Balsillie has failed to secure a team.

We here at iBlog think it's time that Jim Balsillie take a hint.

Face it, Slick - the NHL doesn't want your brand of gung-ho, website-creating ownership, regardless of the fact that you're worth an estimated $3.5 billion and care more about the sport than many current NHL owners.

As much as this might sound blasphemous to some, I can't blame them.

Having all kinds of money and a love of the game is one thing, but have a little business savvy while you're at it, Jim. How many times to you have to try and fail using the same business model before you realize it's flawed?

Don't go into the activity of buying a team with websites dedicated to bringing the team to Canada and announcing grand refurbishment plans for Copps Coliseum. I mean, at least this time you didn't start selling tickets already or anything, but shit, slow down and let the process run it's course for chrissakes.

Just because you have a whack of cash and a desire to bring a team to a market that is clearly better than Phoenix, Atlanta and Nashville combined doesn't make it a done deal. Buffalo, for one, has no interest in you plunking a team down in their prime territory of border-crossing fans. You've got to play the game and most importantly, you've got to follow the rules of said game.

The interesting thing about all this is that Balsillie could own one of the most storied franchises in sports history - and their rink - for probably less than he would spend on the Phoenix Coyotes, as the Montreal Canadiens and the Bell Centre are up for sale as well. Why not buy them?

Simply put, it'd never happen because Balsillie is hell-bent on bringing whatever team he buys to Southern Ontario, even though you, me and everyone without a vested interest in the situation can see that it won't happen under Gary Bettman's watch, though the continued employment of Bettman is another topic for another day.

If you're so dire to be an NHL owner, buy a team, period. No talk of relocation, no water colour paintings of changes to old arenas, no logos on your Blackberry when you're mugging for the television cameras.

Stay put in the city you're already in, operate the team and show that you're biggest interest is in furthering the game and making the NHL better. Put your politics and ideologies about the game in your back pocket and show the NHL you care about more than bringing another team to Canada.

We both know that hockey in Phoenix is never going to fly, no matter how good the Coyotes ever become. Ride out a year, maybe two, with empty seats, losing a couple million dollars. What's a couple million dollars to you, right?

Tow the line, play the game and do what you have to do to appease the NHL. It's the only way you're ever going to get what you want.

Let me put that in a way that is easier to understand ...

Stop being a douchebag!

You want a team? Buy one, just stop all this Make It Seven relocation bullshit already...

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