Thursday, June 09, 2011
Mr. Balsillie, it's some fellow called Bettman on line one!
Forbes magazine is reporting that the NHL Commissioner has apparently whispered in Jim Balsillie's ear that if he makes nice and doesn't cause any embarrassments, then his quest for an NHL franchise may yet come to fruition.
Perhaps awed by the fact that Canadian hockey fans will actually purchase season tickets in numbers that require more than two hands to count, speculation is rising that the Commissioner of the NHL may just soften on the idea of further delivery of hockey teams to the Great White North.
The Balsillie is back in the game theme of course raised much interest in Canada when word of it broke on Thursday, as Southern Ontario hockey fans in particular started dreaming the dream that Winnipeg just had come true, that being the repatriation of the national game back to the land of its roots.
TSN-- Bettman tells Balsillie he could still get a team
CHCH-- Balsillie may still get an NHL franchise
The Score-- Report: Balsillie will get a team if he "behaves"
Hamilton Spectator-- Balsillie in the picture again for an NHL team
Eager it seems to throw cold water on the wild speculation as fast it broke, the NHL dispatched Bill Daly to offer up the always popular denial that any such arrangement has been brokered.
Then again, they said much the same about any Winnipeg relocation, up until the day that the Commissioner flew into Winnipeg for a press conference, so don't expect the story to fade away any time soon.
And while the NHL might prefer that Mr. Balsillie stay close to the ground and not "embarrass" them, one has to wonder if two things will work against the Commissioners wish to control the agenda.
Mr. Balsillie has more than enough money for a team and there certainly seems like there is no shortage of franchises in the NHL that are struggling at the moment and perhaps receptive to a relocation offer.
Thus, it would be safe to say, that sooner rather than later Mr. Balsillie will be getting a phone call, but it won't necessarily be Mr. Bettman on that phone at that time, but rather an anxious vendor looking to sell.
What Mr. Bettman does after that call is made will dictate whether there will be any future embarrassments or spectacles along the way.