Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plan B, for Mr. B

Undeterred by the rather lukewarm reception that he has received from the NHL head office thus far, Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie is formulating a new approach to his long cherished dream of NHL ownership.

According to the National Post of Friday, Mr. Balsillie is apparently in the process of considering the final terms of the purchase of 27 per cent of the Nashville Predators, the second attempt for the Nashville based team and Balsillie’s third attempt at joining the club of owners.

If he decides to go ahead with the deal; that 27 per cent stake in the Predators could be the stepping stone to his goal of complete ownership of an NHL franchise. A cause he has been working hard on for the last few years, with little to show for it so far.

In the short term it will give him access to the Board of Governors, where it’s thought he could present his plans for repatriating an NHL team to Canada.

That has been a personal project that so far has not been particularly welcomed by the NHL brass in New York, though once in the club he may have a better chance of building alliances ready to see the wisdom of his plans.

Should he go ahead and write the cheque for the 27 per cent, he would suddenly be the second largest investor in the Nashville franchise and it is a share that could provide him with the starting point to perhaps become sole owner should the situation evolve his way.

A process that will be watched with great interest not only in the NHL head offices in New York, but across Canada where Balsillie is becoming a bit of a folk hero for his dogged determination to bring one more team back across the 49th parallel.

Theresa Tedesco of the National Post outlines the latest steps in the ongoing drama and reviews Mr. Balsillie’s past attempts and disappointments to achieve his long time goal.

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