[NHL] Make it Seven - Balsillie vs Bettman

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If you haven't already added your email address to Balsillie's website then do so now. Let's add a seventh team in Canada - http://makeitseven.ca/

This is front page news in Canada with at least one article per day. Most of Neowin may not care but some of us do. I am a Leaf fan and unless Balsillie co-rents the ACC (or somewhere in the 416) then I won't be a fan of his team (even if they are 10x better than the Leafs). I do, however, want him to get a team and move it to Southern Ontario.

Bettman vs. Balsillie, refereed by Gretzky

Great One's sympathies could be key to battle over Ontario NHL team

May 07, 2009 04:30 AM

Kevin McGran


Billionaire Jim Balsillie and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have dropped the gloves. And it may be up to Wayne Gretzky to stop the fight and determine the winner.

The battle to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton is turning into an all-out war over the future of the sport, one in which Bettman's vision of a team in every major American market – regardless of its hockey history – is being pushed to its legal limits.

The showdown begins today in a Phoenix bankruptcy court. In the court of public opinion, the deciding factor may be overtures from Balsillie to Gretzky that would turn the Great One into a very rich man.

As part of the BlackBerry magnate's $212.5 million (U.S.) offer to buy the Phoenix franchise, Gretzky as coach and part-owner stands to walk away with $22.5 million – $14.5 million to compensate him for changing the terms of his contract, and the rest for what he's owed in deferred salary.

Gretzky has coached the Coyotes for four seasons, after buying a minority stake in the franchise in 2001, two years after he retired as a player.

In making his third attempt to buy an NHL team, Balsillie has been working the phones, and rumours swirl that he is ready to offer Gretzky anything – part ownership, naming the relocated Coyotes' arena after Wayne's dad Walter – to get him on board.


Tallying 61,000 signees in less than 24 hours to makeitseven.ca – Balsillie's website promoting the idea of a seventh NHL team in Canada – certainly has been a public opinion victory north of the border.



I added my email address and postal code to http://makeitseven.ca/

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Signed up! I would personally rather see the team moved back to Winnipeg then to S. Ontario. But as long as it comes to Canada I won't be complaining. It just better not end up in Vegas.

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I live in Massena, NY, which is literally across the St. Lawrence from Cornwall, Ontario. I'd love another NHL team to go watch (aside from Ottawa). The sad thing is Bettman should be focusing on getting a TV package for the NHL. Having a team in Phoenix won't do him any good when we can only see local teams (which sucks because i'm an Aves fan).

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As far as I understand it, the NHL does not stand to profit at an acceptable level by increasing the number of Canadian-based teams. The logic goes as such; that Canadians already pump money into the NHL's revenue-generating methods, such as watching television packages, watching the advertising, purchasing jerseys, hockey cards, etc. To move a team to Canada may produce an slight increase in revenue, as well as ticket sales, but it pales in comparison to the potential that the American market represents.

In the United States, where the audience barely registers any news of hockey and will not produce any significant revenue for the NHL, expansion into marginal markets can produce far more new fans than in Canada because of teams in their area. For this reason, in some areas of the United States, the NHL has been very successful. In others, not so much. Yet, the potential exists. I am not going to question Gary Bettman's business acumen. He has turned the NHL from a business making millions to one making billions, in a matter of a few years. He has done tremendously in creating revenue, and well as successful standoffs with the players.

On the other hand, the recent bankruptcy of the Phoenix Coyotes seems to prove that not every market will be profitable, even with the potential new fans available. They have failed to attract business in Arizona, and it seems to vilify Bettman's policy, at least in the one area. The experiment is obviously a business failure, so Bettman will likely consider three choices: (1) move the team to a new city in the United States to further his policy, albeit that the Phoenix area has not worked, (2) remain in Phoenix and try to tough it out and turn a profit, as well as maintaining a standard that teams will not move without significant reason to do so, or (3) move a team to Canada. It may not be the huge profits the Bettman anticipates, but it is a safe bet that the Canadian team will stay afloat.

Of course, this is all from a business standpoint. I'm sure that from a fan standpoint, having a team in the city, whether it is Kitchener, Quebec, or Winnipeg, it is a great idea.

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