Needless drama

Wanye
June 12 2009 11:24AM

jimvgary

Anyone want to talk about the 0.000045% chance that Heatley becomes an Oiler? Kidding. We believe that horse has been beaten to death. Instead let's talk about something that hasn't been mentioned once by the sports media in the past two months: this business of the Coyotes and Jim Balsillie.

This Jim Balsillie v Gary Bettman thing is starting to piss us off. So much media coverage, so much bad blood though all that has really happened is that an uber rich potential owner appeared out of thin air and tried to purchase an NHL team that by all accounts is twelve shades of screwed. How dare he have the nerve right?

If for no other reason than to write article 1,459,604 on the subject we will also run the scenario past our brain banana and boil it down to a gelatinous concentration of what we think needs conversation. And hey - gelatinous goo is often delicious.

Things we will ignore

1. The Canada – US angle

We will leave this hornets nest alone and just say that passionate hockey fans live on both sides of the border and somehow bringing patriotism into the issue will not further any sort of debate or fix the situation.

2. The fact the Coyotes used to be the Jets

Yeah our very own brother lives in Winnipeg and basically considered going on a murderous rampage when the Jets left town. Fast forward a couple decades and the team could potentially return to Canada. But it ain’t returning to Winnipeg and Teemu Selanne won’t be returning in the early years of a sterling career. The damage has been done in the 'Peg and it doesn’t seem to look like they are next in line for a franchise.

3. The idea that Phoenix somehow doesn’t have fans

This is probably the most annoying angle some people are taking on this whole issue. Of course Phoenix has hockey fans. Tens of thousands of them. It’s just that they have a couple other things to worry about these days – an economy in freefall, local industry crumbling to dust, house prices dropping faster than Chris Brown album sales and state services coming to a halt. You will have to forgive the city of Glendale/Phoenix if a good many of its residents decide to save their money for things like “food” and “car payments” not watching the likes of Enver Lisin and Daniel Winnik light the world on fire en route to another losing season.

4. That a lot of people don’t like Gary Bettman though he has toiled long and hard in the name of the NHL

Yeah yeah, tons of people don’t like Gary Bettman - but overall we do.  So let’s just leave the hatred of Uncle Gary that exists in some sets aside for the moment.

5. The economy is in the crapper

Fact: the North American economy is in the crapper. For the purposes of this debate let’s leave that alone too. You can’t move a hockey team solely on the basis that Phoenix is having economic troubles and is losing money – or you could make a case to move 10 or 11 teams in the NHL.

Things that enrage us completely

1. In the NHL there are a boat load of shady owners

We don’t have the energy nor do you have the time to discuss all the shady crap owners in the NHL have done in the history of the league. From ripping off players and pension funds, to numerous white collar crimes, jail time, bankruptcy, that dude in Buffalo that did something really bad, Pocklington dang near going to jail if it weren’t for Slats. Let’s just leave it at “the NHL has allowed a lot of shady folks into the owners suites provided they play by league rules. This lax screening process has been bad for the game, league stability in general and has doubtlessly scared off other potential owners of NHL teams.” How does a screening system that admits Oren Koules exclude Jim Balsillie exactly?

2. You are only as strong as your weakest link

Remember when you played Atom hockey and you had that super out of shape kid on your team who insisted on playing super long shifts even though people were going around him with alarming frequency? Remember how your Coach insisted that Fatso McOutofshape get equal ice time because you were “all on the same team?”

Same thing in a series of franchises like the NHL. You think a solid owner like Mike Illich is impressed having to sit back and watch all this drama unfolding with Balsillie and all these other owners that are having trouble? He owns the team in Detroit for heaven's sakes. You know Detroit right – it’s the City that has lost over 50% of its population since the 1950s and has many sections that resemble Berlin after WWII? Yeah, the Detroit that is also in the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in as many years and has most of its team signed through the year 2020? The team that in theory should be one of your weakest links? Think the owner of that team wants to see his investment cut in value because you can only sell a team to someone that has successfully courted Gary Bettman?

Phoenix has also been hit hard by the economic clusterfuck that has become the US in the past 18 months. Is this their fault? No. Are the long term prospects for the area looking up? Hardly. Is there any reason to think that a team that has by some accounts lost upwards of $70 million and is playing to a third full barn is going to be able to turn it around any time soon on the strength of some local Phoenix owner?

No.

So why force the issue? Thowing up a bunch of financial barriers only to keep the team in a down market and be bought by much less financially sound owners than Jim Balsillie is terrible for franchise owners and is just bad business.

We repeat: bad business.

3. Gary Bettman thinks he can somehow trump bankruptcy law with NHL bylaws.

Bankruptcy laws in the US are crazy powerful. Just ask anyone who has a defective product lawsuit with Chrysler in the US right now. Because of the impending bankruptcy of the company, a judge has ruled that Chrysler has no obligations to pay anyone that has a lawsuit or is receiving payments from Chrysler as compensation for injuries that have resulted from defective Chrysler cars and trucks. This means people who have had their backs broken, legs severed or a myriad of other horrific injuries will receive absolutely nothing by way of compensation due to a bankruptcy court ruling. This is serious stuff, bankruptcy court — all they set out to do is restructure things and recoup as much lost money as possible. It matters little who gets screwed over in the process.

Creditors be damned, they are going to get their pound of flesh in these here bankruptcy courts. And yet our friend Gary Bettman is having lawyers stand before a judge and say, "Well yes, technically the Coyotes are millions of dollars in debt. But rather than repaying these people we ask that you play hockey fan for a moment and consider the impact of moving the Coyotes to Canada and having everyone repaid. Wouldn't that be bad?" If a bankruptcy court won't help someone who has been severely injured as a result of the negligence of Chrysler, why on earth are they listening to byzantine NHL bylaws like Section 68-3J/4k2395 of the NHL Code of Governance which states:

“No person or persons shall do anything relating to the NHL unless Gary David Merle Bettman has expressly ok’d the transaction.”

Know what matters in bankruptcy court? Recovering investor money. But the NHL seems to think it is about the obligations of a franchise to play by league rules. That might be the case in good times but when you have declared bankruptcy nothing else matters except repaying creditors to the largest extent possible.

You would rather see millions of creditor dollars go unpaid in Phoenix because you don’t like the white knight that has offered to allow a good company man like Jerry Moyes to recoup his investment? You would rather send a message to NHL owners that their investment is treated this carelessly by NHL brass who aren't there when a hail Mary investor materializes out of nowhere and offers a potential break even scenario to a man — who like many NHL owners — has taken an absolute bath on his investment?

This could cost you your job Gary. Be careful.

09049f03ecb006ab29372206f2a88f75
Blog so hard motherf**ckers try and find me. Email me at wanyegretz@gmail.com or tweet me @wanyegretz provided it is about Jordan Eberle or babes.
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#1 The Towel Boy
June 12 2009, 10:45AM
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Nice read!

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#2 GSC
June 12 2009, 10:50AM
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Point 3 regarding the Bankruptcy Law is absolutely correct.

The court has no obligation whatsoever to consider the NHL's by-laws, especially when the league has a history of failing to follow those conditions. Not to mention, the clauses outlined by the Balsillie lawyers raise numerous questions about competition and anti-trust law.

If the NHL wants their Constitution and by-laws weighed in the same light as bankruptcy law, then they'll have to answer some difficult and legitimate challenges to the legality of several of those clauses (particularly regarding territorial rights and relocation).

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#3 Sandra Blood
June 12 2009, 10:54AM
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Hopefully it does cost Dracula his job.

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#4 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 11:01AM
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@ GSC:

You make an excellent point. Somewhere or other I read something about Raiders owner Al Davis (yes the crazy one) getting into a brawl with the NFL on this same anti-trust law business.

I love the drama though - remembering RIM just finished a massive legal battle over copyright infringement. Balsillie's lawyers are a well oiled machine.

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#5 Archaeologuy
June 12 2009, 11:05AM
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I totally understand why the NHL wants Balsille to play by the rules, but I think at this point Balsille feels like he NEEDS to circumvent the "rules" in order to get this done. The guy is a businessy type guy. If he could have gotten his team without paying high priced lawyers a tonne of cash and banking on a 3rd party judge to rule on the matter, he would have. I wonder how many quiet attempts he really made to buy a team before he decided the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

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#6 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 11:16AM
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The more I hear about this story, the sketchier it all gets. Personally, I'm still stuck on the fact that Gretzky makes $8 million to coach the Coyotes.

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#7 Rick
June 12 2009, 11:21AM
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I find the bankruptcy issue very interesting.

Yes the Coyotes have lost a boat load of money since they arrived in Phoenix so it only makes sense that they qualify for bankruptcy.

But what I wonder is if the league doesn't have a point when say that they didn't need to go Chapter 11.

Obviously all of the available numbers get slanted one way or another depending on what points people are trying to get accross and when talking about losses and profits there are 1000 ways manipulate things in terms of debt, interest and so on.

But just for the sake of my point, if use the profit/loss numbers offered by Forbes and weigh it against how the Coyotes spent on just player salaries in the last 10 years it paints a picture of self destruction. Not a problem with the market specifically.

There are only 3 years that the Coyotes would have had to be the lowest spending team in the league to avoid losses. Now granted two of those years they still would have had losses due to the salary floor.

The remaining years they would have had to be around 23rd on average in the league in payroll.

Edmonton, who operated on a strict budget routinely ranked around there and we are considered a very viable hockey market. Also interesting is that almost all of the teams that spent less have had more success on the ice.

I wonder when this is all over if the league will try to find a way to prevent owners from willingly over spending on salaries just because they can afford to take the losses in any given year. I wonder if that is even a possibility to consider.

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#8 Milli
June 12 2009, 11:29AM
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I don't hate Gary Bettman, but I really don't like him at all anymore. To hear him question the Coyotes losses is astounding. To hear him compare saving hockey in Phonix to saving hockey in the Kingdom Of Edmonton (hockeys true home), Calgary, Detroit or even Chicao. Well Gary, there is a big diference between where hockey has decades of roots and where it dosn't even get mentioned on sports shows. If this was a pure business dispute, I could kind of understand, but it is so clearly a "I don't like him, and he isn't allowed in my club" thing. I for one think that Gary must be skating on really thin ice with HIS BOARD OF GOVERNORS, and if he loses, and has wasted alot of the money....could get bloody. Anyone checked out the www.makeitseven.ca ? Show your support if you believe.

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#9 Prop Jay
June 12 2009, 11:39AM
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Dear Wanye,

I read your post. Enjoyed your post. Thought about your post. And I even returned to your post (comments section).

One thing:

Dany "F****g" Heatley. -my moms approves of these words. I checked.

That is all

Your homie,

Prop. (I prefer Jay but to specific for the internet)

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#10 Ender the Dragon
June 12 2009, 11:40AM
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Regardless of what we may view as the 'justice' of the situation, the Coyotes are not moving to Hamilton.

Reason #1: The 'movement fee' that Bettman proposed and that the judge seems to have accepted as fair in theory is going to be set at an amount that equals or exceeds the actual value of the franchise. Ballsillie wants the team, but he isn't stupid either.

Reason #2: Even if the judge says that it's fair to move the team and Ballsillie agree's to pay the extortion demanded, Bettman will tie this up in Appeals Court until the cows come home, or at least until it's too late to move the team in time for next season, at which point Ballsillie loses interest.

Either way, The Coyotes are the Phoenix Coyotes next season. At this point, a best-case scenario probably just sees Bettman trying to wipe the egg off his face at this time next year.

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#11 bingofuel
June 12 2009, 11:45AM
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@ Milli: Interesting link... Poorly designed site (it's not immediately apparent what they want to make into seven). I've emailed them told them as much. Still: fascinating.

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#12 Ender the Dragon
June 12 2009, 11:54AM
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Milli wrote:

Anyone checked out the http://www.makeitseven.ca ? Show your support if you believe.

bingofuel wrote:

Interesting link… Poorly designed site (it’s not immediately apparent what they want to make into seven).

I agree. Terrible. If you are putting up a site you want millions of people to view, you might take the time to ensure that your logo doesn't run over top of part of your header text, or that you don't have huge empty spaces that feature only abiguous links to 'somewhere'. [click here: it's a surprise!]

I expected more somehow from the guy who invented the Blackberry.

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#13 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 12:02PM
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@ Prop Jay:

DANY HEATLEY? WHERE???

@ Ender the Dragon:

Good points. But don't you think Balsillie's interest in the team would extend past one season?

Question for YOU:

If the bid for the Coyotes fails, does Balsillie try again with another team?

Archaeologuy wrote:

I wonder how many quiet attempts he really made to buy a team before he decided the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

An EXCELLENT point. I can't see him trying to circumvent the process for no particular reason. This must have been Balsillie's "and if THAT doesn't work, I will go after a screwed team directly" plan.

I just can't understand how Oren Koules walks out of Bettman's office smiling, franchise documents in hand whilst Balsillie and his cohorts wait outside for hours only to be told no.* I guess if you are willing to take on a garbage market like TB every single screening process and rule goes out the window.

*This happened exactly like as described

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#14 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 12:13PM
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PRONGER DEALT TO LA?

The internets are buzzing - no confirmation on any of the big sites as of yet

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#15 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 12:15PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

Hasn't happened. Andy Strickland posted it at Hockeybuzz, and it's mysteriously disappeared.

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#16 Reggie
June 12 2009, 12:18PM
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I believe this is "the hill bettman has chosen to die on" ... he will be exposed, the league exposed and the power owners of the NHL will have a new Comissioner by January 1, 2010 (if it even takes that long to happen).

Thanks for all your hard work Gary, but you are the weakest link. You went all in ... and you lost your shirt. Good-bye.

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#17 TonyT
June 12 2009, 12:27PM
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Another argument I can't stand is: Gary Bettman's a terrible commissioner because teams in the NHL are losing money. No sh!t, not one pro sports league has all their franchises make money, that's what happens in a league of 30 teams. Heck the CFL had two teams lose money (Argos and Ti-Cats) and they're only an 8 team league!

Anybody remember PALM pilots or still use a Startac cell. phone? I hope they move to Hamilton already just to get this over with, then the Balsillie and the folks of Hamilton can pick and choose which AHL team they want to watch. I'd take the Bulldogs.

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#18 Reggie
June 12 2009, 12:29PM
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TonyT wrote:

I hope they move to Hamilton already just to get this over with, then the Balsillie and the folks of Hamilton can pick and choose which AHL team they want to watch. I’d take the Bulldogs.

Don't forget the 3rd minor league team in that market ... the Make Beliefs ...

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#19 TonyT
June 12 2009, 12:34PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

@ Ender the Dragon: If the bid for the Coyotes fails, does Balsillie try again with another team?

Hi Wayne, Great column, honestly, if Balsillie's bid fails, I can't even see the CFL or any other league for that matter grant him franchise after this stunt. Honestly, if he's granted ownership and relocation what is their legally stopping the conglomerate that owns the KHL from buying the whole SE division and moving them to Russia?

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#20 Cam
June 12 2009, 12:36PM
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The only reason that Edmonton still has a team is because the city of Edmonton was smart enough to handcuff Peter Pucks hands when they gave him money to improve the arena.

I don't think Bettman had anything to do with it.

When the Jets were leaving town did you know that the people of Winnipeg scraped together 15 million dollars thoruhg donations etc to try and keep the team there. That's like 30 bucks a person... in the nineties with no oil money in Manitoba.

Bettman doesn't give a rats ass about moving franchises around. He proved that without a doubt with the North Stars, Whalers, Jets, and Quebec.

This is a personal vendetta by him against Jim B and I hope he burns for it.

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#21 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 12:38PM
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@ TonyT:

Why would that be? Because he didn't abide by the league rules? I bet that he has tried to do it "by the book" and this is the only way he has left.

At the end of the day a Billionaire is generally in the business of getting what he/she wants. Sooner or later it will happen unless he gives up.

Oh and you are telling me if Balsillie wanted to buy a WNBA team for $212.5 they wouldn't let him move it to Hamilton? LOLZ

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#22 Wanye Gretz
June 12 2009, 12:38PM
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Cam wrote:

This is a personal vendetta by him against Jim B and I hope he burns for it.

SPIT THAT HOT FIRE!

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#23 Reggie
June 12 2009, 12:41PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

Cam wrote: This is a personal vendetta by him against Jim B and I hope he burns for it. SPIT THAT HOT FIRE!

Ah we should just trust Bettman ... after all he trusted a guy name Boots ... and I don't mean the hero Puss N Boots .... LMAO

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#24 Chester Copperpot
June 12 2009, 12:42PM
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TonyT wrote:

Wanye Gretz wrote: @ Ender the Dragon: If the bid for the Coyotes fails, does Balsillie try again with another team? Hi Wayne, Great column, honestly, if Balsillie’s bid fails, I can’t even see the CFL or any other league for that matter grant him franchise after this stunt. Honestly, if he’s granted ownership and relocation what is their legally stopping the conglomerate that owns the KHL from buying the whole SE division and moving them to Russia?

Forget Russia and the KHL. If Balsillie is gets his team I believe a dangerous precident is set. What's stopping a and wealthy kazoollionaire from out bidding the Molson Brothers & Celine Dion and moving the Habs to Old Glory, Texas????

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#25 Archaeologuy
June 12 2009, 12:43PM
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The Score is reporting the Pronger JJ trade!

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#26 Chester Copperpot
June 12 2009, 12:46PM
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@ Archaeologuy:

Yup, Score.ca breaking news:

Ducks trade D Chris Pronger to LA Kings for D Jack Johnson and 5th overall pick.

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#27 TonyT
June 12 2009, 12:46PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

@ TonyT: Why would that be? Because he didn’t abide by the league rules? I bet that he has tried to do it “by the book” and this is the only way he has left. At the end of the day a Billionaire is generally in the business of getting what he/she wants. Sooner or later it will happen unless he gives up. Oh and you are telling me if Balsillie wanted to buy a WNBA team for $212.5 they wouldn’t let him move it to Hamilton? LOLZ

With the big four (NHL, NBA, NFL, MLB) telling Balsillie where to shove his ownership bid, I can't see any legitimate league not giving Balsillie a hard time, however I'm sure Balsillie could own a roller derby franchise or maybe one of those Slamball teams in Hamilton. Also, I was serious about the KHL question, any thoughts on that?

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#28 Librarian Mike
June 12 2009, 12:53PM
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@ Wanye Gretz:

Maybe it is time for a new commissioner. Now, bear with me on this, but can you think of someone who's been there both on the ice and behind the bench? How about someone who's got a good relationship with the old boys and with the media? Someone who's looking for work?

You know what I'm saying...

MacT for Commissioner!

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#29 Cam
June 12 2009, 12:56PM
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@ Wanye Gretz: Boy that felt good.

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#30 patty
June 12 2009, 12:58PM
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I puke in my mouth a little every time I go there, but Strickland's comment is back up at hockeybuzz:

"Sources indicate that a blockbuster trade could very well be in the works involving Anaheim and the LA Kings.

The trade would involve Chris Pronger going to Los Angeles.

Nothing has been confirmed as we sit right now.

I have spoken to people with the Kings organization as well as Chris Pronger who has yet to be notified of a trade.

More to come,

Andy Strickland "

It was up, then down, now up again.

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#31 Fatso McOutofshape
June 12 2009, 01:08PM
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....but my Mom said I was one of the best players on the team....if she lied about that, I wonder if she also lied about my "Glandular Problem." I need a McFlurry to calm my nerves...

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#32 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 01:09PM
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The Score just confirmed the Pronger trade.

I guess LA isn't getting Heatley after all.

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#33 Ogden Brother
June 12 2009, 01:12PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Score just confirmed the Pronger trade. I guess LA isn’t getting Heatley after all.

Is it just me or did LA just get horribly fleeced?

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#34 patty
June 12 2009, 01:17PM
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1 year of Pronger (unless maybe he signs an extension?) for that package? Usually the team who gets the best player wins, but I don't know about this in the long term. Fantastic move for the ducks.

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#35 Reggie
June 12 2009, 01:17PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Is it just me or did LA just get horribly fleeced?

That's a lot to give up if they do not extend Pronger. He has one season left on his contract.

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#36 Jonathan Willis
June 12 2009, 01:17PM
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@ Ogden Brother:

It's not just you. I wonder if this is the whole deal or there's more to it.

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#37 Chaz
June 12 2009, 01:18PM
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@ Ogden Brother: I would say they got fleeced.

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#38 Archaeologuy
June 12 2009, 01:20PM
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Ogden Brother wrote:

Is it just me or did LA just get horribly fleeced?

But if the Oilers gave up Gilbert, Cogliano, O'Sullivan, and the 10th overall for Heatly they wouldnt be Fleeced? :)

seriously, that's a lot of future to give up for a guy who only has 1 yr left on his contract. Has Pronger ever gone to Free Agency? I dont think he has. He could very easily decide to go play for a contender after next season. Yikes.

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#39 Chester Copperpot
June 12 2009, 01:20PM
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@ Jonathan Willis:

Not on TSN Not on Sportsnet

I'm starting to wonder if Ludzik jumped the gun after reading Strickland's HBuzz blog.

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#40 Ogden Brother
June 12 2009, 01:22PM
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Reggie wrote:

Ogden Brother wrote: Is it just me or did LA just get horribly fleeced? That’s a lot to give up if they do not extend Pronger. He has one season left on his contract.

Even if they extend him, he'll be what? 35 next year?

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#41 RossCreek
June 12 2009, 01:24PM
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My guess would be that Pronger likes it there and will be signed to an extension july 1st. Like the trade from both sides. Can we get some more confirmation. Listening to fan960 and they haven't said anything.

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#42 Milli
June 12 2009, 01:24PM
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so does that take LA outta the heatley stakes?

Hope so.

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#43 Tackleberry
June 12 2009, 01:26PM
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@ Jonathan Willis: Well if this is indeed the case then my Souray trade for the Kings 5th pick wasn't such a far out idea now was it? LOL

Could always try Anaheim now if the Oil can sign Bouwmeester, ha.

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#44 Ogden Brother
June 12 2009, 01:26PM
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RossCreek wrote:

My guess would be that Pronger likes it there and will be signed to an extension july 1st. Like the trade from both sides. Can we get some more confirmation. Listening to fan960 and they haven’t said anything.

I don't know man, he's not the player he was when he was here. 2/3 years down the road?

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#45 Tackleberry
June 12 2009, 01:27PM
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@ Tackleberry: I meant far out in general, not directed at you Jonathan W. I have to get used to using the quote button better.

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#46 DK0
June 12 2009, 01:37PM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Score just confirmed the Pronger trade. I guess LA isn’t getting Heatley after all.

What if this is just half the deal and they do Pronger + someone for Heatley?

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#47 OvenChicken8
June 12 2009, 01:40PM
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@ DK0: Then they will be getting completely hosed imo.

But who am I to say that won't happen?

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#48 Ender the Dragon
June 12 2009, 01:41PM
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Wanye Gretz wrote:

: Question for Ender the Dragon: If the bid for the Coyotes fails, does Balsillie try again with another team?

Absolutely. I don't think for a minute that Balsillie ever gave this whole Coyotes things more than a 10% chance of working. Just like in any war, the best way to gain advantage is to send in a diversionary force, get your enemy to commit, and then crush him with a flank attack.

Balsillie just wants to get Bettman to show the whole world was an ass he is and how silly his 'ownership rules' are. Mission already [more than] accomplished. The Coyotes were the diversion; the suicide squad. $212M for them? Balsillie is laughing about not having to pay that bid and still come out smelling like the victim here.

The next bid; that'll be the serious one. When Bettman doesn't have the support to fight this fight again. That's when Balsillie puts in, very publically, a very realistic bid on a good franchise, and dares Bettman to even try to come up with dumb excuses a second time.

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#49 RossCreek
June 12 2009, 01:41PM
Trash it!
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cheers

The Fan960 is talking about it. Trying to get Strickland on. With Gregor's approval I'll give an update.

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#50 The Menace
June 12 2009, 01:43PM
Trash it!
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

The Score just confirmed the Pronger trade. I guess LA isn’t getting Heatley after all.

What about Anaheim? Doesn't this open them up into the Heatly arena?

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