Bettman-Balsillie and Desert Dog…

Posted: September 4, 2009 in General, NHL

balsillie_vs_bettman_480_400There are tons of things that bother me about hockey fans.  At times when we are members of a larger group, we tend to overlook the deficiencies of other members simply because we don’t want to bash our own.

Well,  the number one peeve that I have is the disdain for Gary Bettman.  I suppose I should qualify that.  The misdirected disdain for Gary Bettman.  If you hate Bettman because he is a hardliner, has small man syndrome, shakes when he talks, doesn’t have a long established hockey background, those are all valid complaints.  Is he disingenous in regards to his reasoning to attempt to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.  Very, very likely.  That being said, there are some things in this situation that strike me as odd which I will get to later.

As far as Gary Bettman goes, the issue I have with hockey fans is that he is anti-Canada.  I don’t believe that to be the case.  In situations in Quebec and Winnipeg, zero local ownership, or lack of a viable arena were the reasons the teams moved.  Period.  The Jets had above league average attendance twice in their history.  The barn was terrible, no one wanted to buy them, and they moved.  Period, end of story.

Quebec had zero ownership choices, and the province didn’t want to buck up to subsidize the team. 

When it came to the financial troubles of the other Canadian franchises, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa all had their share of monetary issues, in which Gary Bettman defended all those teams.  I asked Darryl Sutter personally how he felt about Gary Bettman when I was writing for McKeen’s during the lockout.  He gave him a rousing endorsement.  He said they (the Canadian teams) totally backed what he was doing.

Ultimately it is a few Southern Ontarians, with a lack of understanding of all the issues, fundamentally driven to hate Bettman because he won’t let a team move to Hamilton and owned by someone that wants to be painted as the good guy.

Balsillie is not the good guy here.  Neither is Bettman.  They are two business adversaries fighting for control of a business which is basically a hostile take over move.  Balsillie doesn’t want to play ball and kiss the appropriate derrieres to get into the exclusive club.  Bettman doesn’t want to be undermined, as little Napoleon’s generally don’t. 

In my opinion this is about Toronto and money.  Toronto may fight for territorial infringement.  If that were to happen, that would upset Bettman’s apple cart.  He doesn’t give two shakes about Phoenix from what I can tell.  It is keeping the Leafs happy number one, and the possible multi million dollar expansion/territory fee that would come along with putting another team in Southern Ontario.  Balsillie would have a team if he didn’t keep trying to put one in GARY/MLSE/BLUEWORLDORDER’s backyard.  Sure it would make tons of money.  But the Leafs and the NHL want that money, not to give it away to Blackberry Jim.

Balsillie tried to undermine process, constitution, and glad handing.  All necessary in pro sports ownership.  Fraternities are like that.  They also like to maximize their money.  Any owner that says, I want all the money, and don’t want to share is going to be put in the “has too poor character to be an owner”.

Regardless of all that, the funniest thing I have read about the whole thing is from today’s Globe and Mail.  As a business person, I understand that selling ice in a desert can only work if it doesn’t melt.  When it comes to the Coyote’s they are a tough sell, no doubt.  But when this is the latest…

 “Moyes has been a co-owner of the Coyotes for about eight years, but that doesn’t make him a hockey fan. He’d never been to a game before buying part of the club in 2001, and when asked by lawyers last month if he was a hockey fan, Moyes replied: “I jokingly say I don’t know how to spell ‘puck.’” He said he attended about one-third of the Coyotes’ home games last season, and visited the team office “two or three times.”

Businesses require leadership.  This guy isn’t committed to his investment, so obviously it failed.  They have had terrible management, terrible coaching, terrible player development and zero success on the ice.  Translation, why would anyone cheer for an absolute Mickey Mouse organization.   Sorry Wayne, someone had to say it.

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