How can we ever believe anything Gary Bettman says. All along, the commissioner has maintained that every NHL franchise is healthy, the league is doing fantastic, and there’s no need to even consider moving a team or looking at fresh markets. Now we see what’s happened in Phoenix, (Coyotes bankrupt), and the guy Bettman has wanted no part of, Jim Balsillie, has made a big time $212.5 million offer to buy the club and move to it Canada, which Bettman dreads even more than seeing a Canadian team win the Stanley Cup. (Yes, he dreads it that much). What a dilemna for Gary. A nice solid offer to solve the problems of the Coyotes, a team everyone except him knew was in big trouble, but it could go to southern Ontario, which shatters his big dream of seeing a franchise some day in that hockey market to end all hockey markets, Kansas City.
Gary Bettman should go back to his roots, the NBA, where there’s only one Canadian team to have bad dreams about, and bring in a real hockey man. (Ken Dryden?) Bettman’s vision of hockey in non-hockey markets is a distorted, unrealistic, weird dream, liking forming a yacht club in Somalia. Telling the world that Phoenix was on solid ground and not going anywhere a month ago and now in bankruptcy and accepting loans from the league to pay back rent and such, was not only completely incorrect, but a downright lie. He knew this franchise was hovering near a cliff. Is he that stubborn he couldn’t just admit it?
Let’s hope Jim Balsillie is successful in his bid to bring the Coyotes to southern Ontario. And it’s not only $212 million he’s ready to fork out, but another $17 million on top of it to the Coyotes to let them carry on until the sale is complete. And the math is so neat and precise. Subtract one team from a non-hockey market and add one to a hockey-mad area which will undoubtably add serious dollar bills to the league coffers. I did very poorly in math in school, but these numbers I understand completely.
Gary Bettman’s vision of making the NHL a kissing cousin of the NFL, MLB, and the NBA in the US was just silly to begin with. Why couldn’t he see that the TV rights weren’t going to happen like he thought, the corporate and advertising dollars were only a fantasy. Hockey in the US is only a very small piece of a gigantic pie. A franchise in Canada, not Phoenix, not Kansas City, is the only answer. Bettman has never understood this. Jim Balsillie, on the other hand, gets it completely.