If Gary Bettman thought that he could force Jim Balsillie to just go away, he may have misjudged the mission that the would be NHL owner is on. And with each passing day Mr. Bettman digs himself a deeper hole in the land above the 49th parallel.
The Monday edition of the Hamilton Spectator has an interesting look at why Balsillie continues to want to spend his money on an NHL franchise, despite indications that his money isn't particularly welcome ( go figure that accounting principle out kids).
Balsillie is playing the Canadian card to its fullest, as the Spectator paints him as almost a folk hero who won't rest until Canada has a seventh NHL franchise operating out of Hamilton. It's the kind of thing that should have a song composed for.
The Battle of Hamilton is going to place Balsillie clearly on the side of the angels and try as he might, Gary Bettman will never again be able to say that he has the interests of Canadian hockey at heart.
Somewhere Kanye West is waiting for a phone call and a chance to say "Gary Bettman hates Canadians."
The intransigent nature of the NHL to throw as many roadblocks in front of the Ontario millionaire (maybe billionaire who knows for sure) will be one of the great wonders of NHL history.
Here's a guy with enough cash to not only buy and operate an NHL team, but to renovate a rink and secure a hockey base that is dying for a team to support. To think that the NHL is ready to move on to a Kansas City, Las Vegas, Portland, Oklahoma City or Seattle at the expense of where hockey is a living breathing entity just astounds the mind.
Folks in Winnipeg and Quebec City surely must realize the hollowness of the occasional offerings that they may one day be allowed back into the circle.
In the end, Bettman may win the Nashville battle but we suspect Balsillie won't go away. Eventually the other 29 NHL owners will sit down and ask Gary Bettman, why exactly a high tech millionaires dollars aren't good enough for a league that has more than its fair share of trouble spots!