Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mr. Bettman calls out some heavy artillery

The NHL called on some markers it seems on Monday, as they offered up an all star cast of sports league commissioners to back their case when it comes to the movement of the Phoenix Coyotes.

With the proceedings on the fate of the Coyotes set to resume in bankruptcy court on Tuesday, Mr. Bettman provided statements from the top executives of the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA all outlining their concerns that any change in the current workings of the NHL's movement rules could change the dynamic of sports leagues across the continent.

While they didn't quite come out and say that anarchy would prevail, the other three league leaders did throw their NHL compatriot a lifeline to hold onto, one that takes the position that the judge should "respect the National Hockey League's rules and procedures regarding ownership transfer and relocation."

It's a powerful display of unity for the sports leagues of North America, though one wonders if the other three partners in this foursome of fear might be wanting to take their junior partner behind the arena and give him some advice. As any fan of the Godfather movies will remember, creating waves for the member partners is something that is frowned on and comes with dire consequences...

Letting the Phoenix situation get so out of the NHL's control is not something that is helpful to the other leagues, who enjoy their comfortable situation where for the most part all of their partners follow their rules without much in the way of questions.

By not sensing that the Phoenix situation was set to spin out of his control, Mr. Bettman now finds himself throwing the kitchen sink defence out there to keep his hold on the league's mysterious bylaws.

His continuing match up with would be investor Jim Balsillie is proving to be a long term marathon, which may change the NHL for years to come. What the other three league commissioners must be hoping for with their statement is to try and contain that contagion of freedom of movement, lest any of their owners find that losing money in their locations isn't much fun when there may be greener pastures elsewhere.

Suddenly, the simple case of a stumbling NHL franchise is morphing into a quest to stem revolution before it jumps sports. With such heavy hitters as these offering up their interpretations of events and potential outcomes in other leagues, it will be quite interesting to see how the judge handles all of the drama that is set to unfold in a Phoenix courtroom later today.
Weighing the support of sports biggest hitters is certainly one thing to consider, then again the fans of Phoenix offered up their support this weekend as well, though by their numbers their message perhaps was heard loud and clear, only 500 people turned up for a save the Coyotes rally, a crowd that organizers called a strong turnout.
Perhaps a hint that Mr. Moyes may be more in tune with the markets potential than Mr. Bettman is, helpful advice from the big three notwithstanding...

Toronto Star-- Key questions
Hamilton Spectator-- Who controls NHL Coyotes?

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