Maverick Balsillie not dead just yet
There's a chilling scene at the end of
"Gooble, gobble, we accept you," the freaks chant. "We accept you. One of us."
One of us. After a tempestuous meeting Wednesday in Chicago, any slim hope that
Not that the outcome of the vote, a resounding 30-0 defeat, was all that surprising. The process was all part of the legal dance around the money pit that is the Phoenix Coyotes. In order to play nice for the courts, Balsillie had to apply for admittance to the club. The league, to protect its own interests, had to stand united in opposition. No shock that everyone's ducks remained neatly in row.
No, it was the enmity of firing squad he faced. These guys didn't aim a single bullet to the heart. They set the guns on automatic and kept the triggers depressed.
Sources have reported that
Guess that lets
The failures of his team aside, Gillett did have reason to be angry. It's thought that he himself told Balsillie of his intentions to sell the club during a conversation initiated as part of a reaching out effort by the BlackBerry billionaire. Now, the logic of sharing information that delicate with someone he barely knew can certainly be debated, but it was Balsillie's betrayal of Gillett's trust that created the storm of wrath.
The anger of former Nashville (and current Minnesota) owner
So while Balsillie may be the most financially sound suitor sniffing around the near lifeless Coyotes (not that that's been a concern in the past to a league that's approved scam artists like
I have to admit here: I've been pulling for Balsillie to get his hands on an NHL team for a long time now. It's nothing against the fans in Phoenix, whose team would be packed into a fleet of U-Hauls before the ink dried on the transfer agreement if he miraculously emerges victorious from this ridiculously plotted soap opera of a court case. Just like it wasn't a knock on the good folks of Nashville or Pittsburgh when he was pursuing their franchises.
It's certainly not the rah-rah nationalism of his "Make It Seven" campaign or any particular desire to see a team in Hamilton or Kitchener-Waterloo or wherever he eventually decided to plant the Fightin' BlackBerries.
It's just that a league filled with a dozen
But there isn't an owner in the NBA, maybe in all of North American sports, who cares as passionately about his team, about winning and about creating new fans as Cuban. And for all his arrogance and ham-handedness, there's little doubt that Balsillie would be just as dedicated to the cause. Any fan of a team owned by him could go to bed at night dreaming of a chance at a title instead of what prospect they'd be drafting with that top-10 pick.
But passion --or increased franchise value -- isn't as prized as playing along with the men who pull Bettman's strings. And so, to no one's surprise, the BoG unanimously approved Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner
And why not? Remember, this is a man so intimately devoted to the future success of the Coyotes that his bid includes not one single dollar from his own deep, personal coffers. A smart play given the financial situation in Phoenix, but a curious one from a man who reportedly told then-MLB commissioner
Even though he finally won it in 2005, one can only imagine how highly he would prioritize a property that seems destined to face considerable hardship both on the ice and in the accounting offices for the foreseeable future.
But hey, to the members of that exclusive fraternity, he's viewed as one of them. After all, he's good enough for the more exclusive MLB and NBA clubs. Plus, he's an anti-union hawk and also the leader of the coup that ousted Vincent from the MLB commissioner's office back in 1992. That's good people!
Still, after all this, nothing has been decided, and like that villager being carted away during the Black Plague scene in
Expect that to happen. And expect Balsillie to keep fighting. But at this point, you have to wonder why he'd still want to be part of a club that so obviously does not want him as a member.