Balsillie prepared for a fight
I didn't get a chance to catch the program until late last night, but the Fan 590's Prime Time Sports had Jim Balsillie's lawyer Richard Rodier on the air for a solid 20 minutes yesterday, and the tone of the discussion was remarkably different from Rodier's earlier appearances.
Among other things, Rodier said Balsillie wasn't going anywhere in his bid to put an NHL team in Hamilton and that they were prepared to fight NHL commissioner Gary Bettman tooth and nail for the chance to do just that. It seems clear Balsillie knew he would meet with considerable opposition from the league in the beginning, which seems to be why he approached and negotiated with Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold without Bettman's knowledge.
Interesting news, yet again.
Allow me to quote Rodier at length in the passages below:
I think that there is a gag order in place where the governors have been told not to speak, I think, to the media.
Has the commissioner intimidated Mr. Leipold? Well, he didn't know that we were talking to Mr. Leipold until, as I understand it, Darren Dreger called him and said 'I understand there's discussions going on between Balsillie and Leipold, and they're about to sign a letter of intent.' And I think the commissioner was caught by surprise and then called Mr. Leipold and tore his head off. He instituted what has been called a cease and desist order, essentially forbidding Craig to talk to us.And, why, Rodier was asked, would the commissioner shut down those negotiations, reprimand Leipold and attempt to give Balsillie the boot?
I think part of it is that the commissioner wants this team to go to Kansas City and that's why he forbade Craig from talking to us, but allowed them to continue to discuss things with Kansas City.Rodier also intimated more than once his belief that 'the governors call the shots,' meaning that, regardless of what Bettman wants out of this process, Balsillie and his legal team are looking to take direct aim at the NHL ownership groups in the hopes that they could win support, and a vote, that way.
Ultimately, Rodier said, that support is all that matters.
As a closing bit of interest, do note this passage from Mr. Rodier's online curriculum vitae:
Richard's subspecialty expertise is in banking, acting for both financial institutions and borrowers in connection with complex secured lending transactions, including financing of acquisitions, hostile take-over bids, sub-debt financing, and equipment leasing.Hostile take-over is good phraseology for what I think is going to be attempted here — and Balsillie's chances might just be a matter of finding an owner with the fortitude to ignore the bleating of the league's very own Napoleon.