May 09 2009 11:31AM
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly continued the NHL’s PR war against Jim Balsillie and Jerry Moyes on Friday, claiming that there were “at least three” serious suitors for the Phoenix Coyotes before Moyes pulled the rug out of everyone’s feet and moved the Coyotes into bankruptcy.
Here are the money quotes, courtesy of TSN:
”There have been at least three expressions of interest with serious money behind them to operate this team in Glendale. The most recent expression and the one that's farthest along would have involved all of the creditors being paid all their money back and having stable ownership and a fully funded franchise going forward."
"The only person who generates additional cash out of the Balsillie bid for relocation to Hamilton would be Jerry Moyes. None of the creditors would get any additional money from that bid."
I’ve got a few points to make about these quotes:
1) When Bill Daly says that the only person who will make any extra money out of this bid would be Jerry Moyes. I’m quite sure he’s wrong there; it won’t just be Jerry Moyes, it will be everyone with an ownership stake, including Wayne Gretzky. 2) Since Daly admits that Moyes is going to make more money out of a Balsillie bid, obviously none of the other three “expressions of interest” were willing to pony up as much money, and that’s a key consideration. 3) Why shouldn’t Moyes make some of his money back? Since investing his personal fortune in the club, he’s lost a ton of cash. Back in 2003 the number was pegged at $100 million by ESPN, and Moyes now puts the figure at “over $300 million”; whatever the actual number is, Moyes clearly isn’t making any money on this transaction. 4) It’s a lot easier for Bill Daly to talk about “expressions of interest with serious money behind them” than it is for a potential owner to put up more than $200 million dollars to buy the team. Balsillie’s put the money up, which is more than the NHL can say about any of these other bidders, who by their own admission aren’t offering as much money. 5) Those “three expressions of interest” wouldn’t be from these three people, would they? The reason I ask is because if the NHL approaches someone, they take a look at the books and say no, I don’t think it’s fair to call it an “expression of interest”.
Of course, all of those points are even assuming that we’re willing to give the NHL the benefit of the doubt and take them at their word; something which I personally see no compelling reason to do. In fact, I distrust virtually everything the NHL says on this front, based on what they’ve said in the past. Consider for example what Gary Bettman said back in February:
"There's been a tremendous amount of speculation and commentary about the state of the Coyotes. I think most of it has been terribly unfair to the Coyotes organization, to the players, and, most important, to the fans. There are some issues we're working on in terms of getting a new capital infusion for the club, which will probably take the form of some new partners for (majority investor) Jerry Moyes, or even a possible sale of the franchise. But these reports of the franchise's demise are just ridiculous."
"I think the thing people shouldn't lose sight of is that Jerry Moyes has been committed to Glendale, he's been committed to the Coyotes. We're not just talking about energy and passion, we're talking about a huge financial commitment. He's somebody who believes, as do I, that the future of the Coyotes is in Glendale."
We're working on bringing this to a conclusion by season's end. Business is being conducted as usual, and all the rumors about things that are going wrong are simply without merit.
There’s absolutely no reason to trust the NHL on this one and there are a lot of very good reasons not to.
And It’s All About Hamilton
Of course, it may not just be Balsillie who has his eyes on Hamilton. A report in the Hamilton Spectator suggests that Vancouver-based Tom Gaglardi (who has previously tried to purchase the Vancouver Canucks) is interested in purchasing the Atlanta Thrashers and moving them to Hamilton.
A quote from the article:
Gaglardi's group is Steeltown's second NHL suitor. There are now rumours of as many as five groups looking at Hamilton and Copps Coliseum for an NHL team.
It almost sounds like Balsillie’s started an avalanche here, and that may end up hurting him, because I’m fairly sure that Gary Bettman would welcome Satan (and we’re not talking Miroslav) as an investor before he would welcome Balsillie. It’s a disappointing tack for Gary Bettman to take, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it eventually ends him as NHL commissioner. After all, right now he’s fighting to keep a money-losing franchise in Phoenix by finding a new owner who will pay less money than Balsillie for the team. This directly hurts NHL owners, who a) pay financial assistance to money-losing clubs and b) almost certainly wouldn’t mind seeing franchise values inflated by bids like Balsillie’s.