Criteria for buying an NHL team


With all the craziness yesterday about the NHL formally submitting a bid for the Phoenix Coyotes, I found myself wondering what, exactly qualifies someone to submit a bid for an franchise.

As it happens, there are probably at least eight qualifications that the NHL uses to gauge whether or not you are qualified to own an NHL team. At least, that’s at least as many as I figured out before I stopped caring.

1. Do you have the money?

It’s the most important consideration, I bet, and I’d imagine that goes for any sports league. I remember back when the Red Sox were up for sale back in the first few years of this decade, and I think the current owners submitted a bid of over $700 million dollars, which was substantially more than the $2,200 I offered. I guess I get why this is an important factor, but, because the league has repeatedly told Jim Balsillie to take a hike despite his large bids, it can’t be the only one.

2. Are you a good dude?

Remember, the NHL Board of Governors recently rejected Jim Balsillie’s bid for the Coyotes, which is considerably greater than some of the other bids that have been kicked around over the last few months, on the grounds that he didn’t seem like a nice person. Well, the term was that he lacked the “character and integrity” to own an NHL team. For real. He can’t hang with regular nice guys like Charles Wang, who underreported TV ad revenues so he could pocket more money while keeping the team terrible. He can’t hold a candle to a stand-up guy like Eugene Melnyk, whose company maybe could’ve bribed doctors to prescribe an experimental drug it was putting out (charges here in the US are pending) and also possibly defrauding insurance companies over the value of a truck that crashed by anywhere from 2.5-5 times its actual worth. Y’know, real gentlemen like that.

3. What is your status as a Canadian?

This is HUGE, and it’s a yes/no question. I’m sure the application paperwork reads, “Are you Canadian?” Answering in the affirmative gets you sent straight to the reject pile no questions asked.

4. Are you willing to ignore geographical fact to make a point?

Sure, Phoenix has repeatedly shown that it has no interest whatever in attending hockey games, for any number of reasons. The most often-cited is that the Coyotes don’t actually play in Phoenix, but rather Glendale, which is, they say, a bit out of the way for Phoenix residents. And if you’ve never been to Phoenix, then this might sound like a logical argument. But I have, and Glendale is very close to the city. Google Maps says it’s just over 14 miles. BY HIGHWAY. This is like if the NHL cried over lack of attendance at Flames games because the rink was, by way of comparative distance and travel time, in Chestermere.

5. Would you like to lose boatloads of money for “the good of the game?”

Sure, the Coyotes are losing money by the bucketful and are unlikely to turn a profit any time in the next billion years thanks to a number of factors which boil down largely to crumminess of team and market. But how good of an owner you are depends largely upon how willing you are to live life on the red side of the ledger (are ledgers separated into sides? I don’t know). If you’ll suffer the indignity and financial burden of losing something like $40 million a season for forever, on top of your already-hefty bid, then you’re an ideal candidate.

6. Did you possibly try to circumvent the NHL’s rules for buying a team?

If the answer is only “maybe,” then you’re fine.

7. Are you and your bid a complete fraud?

No problem, buddy, come on in.

8. Did you invent the BlackBerry?

This is apparently very important. If you have high hopes that you’ll land an NHL franchise, please do not be a person that invented a piece of technology that changed the way we think about cell phones. This is the kind of thing that makes an interviewer frown across his desk at you before sighing deeply and checking “No” on a single sheet of paper held to a clipboard.

  • Cam wrote:

    Bettman is a jerk who only cares about American hockey markets.

    That's really not very accurate. he may be a douche-bag, and he may have way too much focus on "growing" the US market, but he's the reason we still have teams in western Canada. Particularly in Edmonton.

    Every night before I go to sleep I give my Little Gary Bettman doll (life-size) a little smooch, and thank him for saving the Oilers.

  • Please remove pick of Ryan Smyth. Every time I read a TLP post I feel like weeping and it is a bad association to be forming.

    AND… where was the NHL when the Winnipeg Jets moved there in the firsst place – did the NHL buy that team? Remember that this was the nineties and a team could be bought for 70M. The citizens of Wpg raised 15M – that could have helped the NHL. I wonder if they could raise 25 cents in Phoenix.

    Bettman is a jerk who only cares about American hockey markets.

  • I think the NHL's only problem with Mr. Balsillie is that he wants to move an existing franchise into that major southern Ontario hockey market. The NHL was/is counting on significant expansion dollars to go into that hockey hotbed and by re-locating an existing franchise is effectively cutting that cost in half.

    If he wanted to move the Coyotes to say Las Vegas….the NHL would have a very different additude towards Mr. Balsillie.

  • And Daryl Katz was one of the NHL owners! It was unanimous when they voted not to accept Balsilie into the NHL.

    Tell me there isn't something a little funny going on there? Is there a probationary period where Katz has to give the team back if he speaks up amongst the NHL owners that are sheep?

    Baaaaaaaad boy Daryl


  • Too many people seem to talk as if the NHL is a publicly traded company or something and therefore needs to be transparent. It's not and it does not have to be. The league is a private entertainment company run out of New York City and can either let in or exclude whomever they please. A big reason why the league is commiting to Glendale is because it got taxpayers to build an arena for them there. If they just walk out, it serves as a bad precedent to taxpayers in other markets when owners there want tax dollars for a new arena. Edmonton is certainly one of those marketplaces.

  • I don't see how the league can be allowed to bid on teams, that seems like shifty BS entirely pulled to give the finger to a guy they don't like.

    Never mind the fact that Capt. Blackberry likely has more money than the NHL and theoretically could outbid them if he wanted it bad enough.

  • SO far the only issue with this article is that the Canadian comment isn't necessarily true because, I believe that Darryl Katz is a canuck and is now the proud owner of an NHL team. OTherwise everything seems in order here

  • Is there a current NHL GM that doesn't use a Blackberry as their method of communication?

    Perhaps this is Balsillie's ace in the hole. Cut the power to everyone's Blackberry, cause mass confusion and panic followed by his immediate welcome into the league as it's newest owner.