It's my day off, it's Friday night and I hadn't planned on writing anything — but this is pretty huge news.
Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has pulled his bid to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins.As quickly as he arrived on the scene, a coronation that began with a patio-side chat on Hockey Night in Canada with Ron MacLean, Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie is back out the door — and you have to wonder what has changed in the past few weeks in order to bring about these mysterious "terms" that have caused him to balk.
Sources tell TSN at the last moment the NHL provided a list of terms that Balsillie didn't want to agree to.
My guess is the NHL feels an arena deal is all but a certainty now in Pittsburgh, and given the team the Penguins currently have, that suddenly makes the likelihood of finding another owner — one who doesn't have an eye for moving the club as Mr. BlackBerry obviously did — much greater. There's also the possibility that Mario Lemieux may have changed his mind about divesting what could be one of the league's most valuable franchises in a few years time.
If it's not already (they might as well start marketing the team's star as $idney Cro$by).
The Penguins will be holding a press conference at 8:10 p.m. tonight, during the first intermission of tonight's home game against the New York Islanders, and perhaps I'll flip it on to see if we learn anything more. Stay tuned.
UPDATE The Mirtle blog's in-house expert Cousin BJ is not impressed with league commissioner Gary Bettman on this one: "What's with the clause that says the NHL can step in and take over if they feel it necessary?!? That's ridiculous... they didn't say @#$& when Quebec City and Winnipeg up and moved.
"Bettman just wants his American market — his dream of becoming the NFL on ice. Seriously.... if I'm going to invest $175-million and buy an investment, I'm not going to do it if I'm being told that I can potentially lose control of it if some third party deems it necessary."