Friday, July 20, 2007

Did Bettman block Balsillie?

This is something that's been discussed here and elsewhere before, but the story of the day is Scott Burnside's piece at on a series of emails obtained from discussions between Jim Balsillie's representation and Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold:
In a series of e-mails obtained by, Leipold and Rodier discuss Bettman's alleged involvement in the breaking off of negotiations between the two sides and the commissioner's uneasiness with the prospect of a deal being signed between the two parties.
At the heart of the matter is a team whose sale will have repercussions for the NHL for years to come. The battle for ownership of the Nashville Predators might be the single-most important moment for the league in decades, even eclipsing in importance the lockout that scuttled the 2004-05 season.
The Balsillie side has indicated that there is no plan in place to attempt to sue the NHL for what's occurred, but it's hard to believe that's not at least an option.



At 8:45 p.m., July 20, 2007, Blogger The Forechecker said...

This sale is more important to the league than the lockout? Please. This is some all-too-typical Burnsidian bluster. Remember that this is the guy who wrote, "Coach Gretzky has followed the same other-worldly career arc that defined him as a player," after only a couple months in charge of a Coyotes team that was 9th in the Western Conference standings at the time.

If Bettman had reason to believe that Balsillie's process was exposing the NHL to harm or legal liability, than by all means he was entitled to intervene. That's what commissioners do.

This sounds like nothing more than Burnside acting as Rodier's mouthpiece.

At 3:08 p.m., July 21, 2007, Anonymous Alec said...

As I wrote in the comments from Burnside's story, isn't selling season tickets for a team you don't actually own setting the Preds up for anticipatory breach of contract?

Moving the Preds is gonna be a lot of work and Balsillie not acting in good faith could have damaged them if it ever came to litigation.

The thing with Balsillie is that RIMM has had some issues with accounting and whatnot and perhaps Bettman is wary of having another Computer Associates on his hands.

At 3:18 p.m., July 21, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

If that's the case, you wonder why the board unanimously approved him for the Penguins' sale a few months earlier.

This is all about getting a team out of the Maple Leafs' territory, which is where things could truly get ugly.

At 3:55 p.m., July 21, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

So now we have e-mails leaking to the press. Yes a law suit is imminent. In fact two law suits.

The first will be from Balsillie suing Bettman and the NHL jointly and severably for denying his bid to go to the full NHL Board of Directors for approval, and for misleading conduct by Bettman on both the Pittsburgh and Nashville bids.

However, this suit will be relatively minor, limited to the actual legal, accounting and consulting costs Balsillie incurred in the two bids, plus punitive damages.

The bigger law suit will be by Leopold against Bettman and the NHL for not allowing the Balsillie deal to go to the Board. Here the damages will be the difference between Balsillie's bid and whatever Leopold finally sells the club for, plus costs incurred and punitive damages.

I believe it was Leopold's camp who released the e-mails, as a heads up warning to Bettman that law suits are coming if he doesn't change his ways.

Bettman's not dumb - so watch him change his mind and allow the Balsillie bid to go to the Board.

Now the Board can still turn it down for a number of valid reasons, however, they can't be sued for not giving due and fair process to the Balsillie bid - and by establishing reasons for denying the bid, they bolster their legal defence.

Of course this is what both Leopold and Balsillie want, as they believe they can get enough Board members to support them, if they can just get around Bettman and get the bid to the Board for a decision.


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