Bill Daly is Probably Wrong – Just Like Bettman Was

coppscoliseum

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.

(bolding mine)

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.

  • lj

    Bad Seed wrote:

    @ jeanshorts:
    The trouble with your theory is that Subway & Quiznos are two different entities. I’m sure there are rules in the Subway world about you opening your Subway across the street from another Subway. Capice?

    Well then let's take Starbucks for example. There is literally 3 Starbucks within a one block radius of each other right by my place. And about 15 blocks down from that there are two Starbucks kitty corner to each other. Does that work for you?
    All I'm saying is that the rules the NHL uses to enforce a lot of their business practices don't hold up in the real world, and if it was ever taken to court I'm not sure the NHL would come out on top.

  • lj

    The NHL office needs to cleaned out. Look at the gaffs that have come about in the last week.

    1) Midget Bettman refuses to let a dead dog die in Phoenix. Moving the team would be good for just about everyone except for the mini man's ego. I love the blatent lies about the financial situation in AZ that JW pointed out.

    2) The obvious goal that was called off in the Carolina game. I see the line, I see the entire puck standing on end past the line, how do you not count it?

    3) Not suspending Ovechkin for a blatent knee on Pitts best D-man. Pitt should pull Brian Marchment out of retirement and let him end the guys career. I love watching him play but its just not right!

  • lj

    I fail to understand why people (especially here in Edmonton with our own period in history with instability) are so quick to rally around Balsillie and condemn Bettman. From my point of view (which I will admit may be flawed as I have no direct correlation to the league offices and therefore is open to correction) I see no reason to condemn Bettman and Daly in THIS particular instance. (1) Bettman and Daly work for the Board of Governors, therefore they represent their views and opinions. Their is a difference between a Commissioner and a President (or CEO) in that a Commissioner's job is to carry out league mandates not create them. (2) Jerry Moyes has every right to sell his share of the franchise to whomever he chooses however, the purchaser of such shares does not have the right to pick up and move the franchise without the league's approval. I've seen a few comments that the league controlling the locations of franchises is "bush league." I disagree, being able to move a franchise overnight wherever you want is "bush league". (3) The league continuing to publicly support hockey in Arizona is considered by some to be detrimental to the league's health. How is publicly supporting a franchise bad for business? It's the league's job to portray stability. How is the league supposed to promote, sell, and grow it's product when non-traditional hockey markets are constantly scrutinized and threatened with relocation? I find it very ignorant for us Canadian hockey fans to dismiss the 10,000 fans in Phoenix as a non-hockey market. I've watched the Oilers play at jobing.com arena and sure there weren't that many fans, but there were Phoenix fans there. It's disrespectful to those fans to constantly challenge their right to exist, not to mention ignorant given the history of western Canadian NHL franchises and Gery Bettman's assistance in keeping hockey here, specifically Edmonton and not moving the team to Houston. There was a time in the mid-90s when the Oilers had difficulty drawing more than 12,000 to a game, dido for the Flames pre-'04 Cup run, and you need only look at the turnover rate of ownership in Vancouver to see how profitable that franchise has been.

    Don't get me wrong, do I think the Coyotes can survive in Phoenix or the Thrashers in Atlanta, I believe that remains to be seen. Since the inception of either of those franchises when have they honestly had any reason to cheer about. I think history has shown how we as Canadians (specifically Edmontonians) have responded to non-competitive hockey teams, to say that those same franchises would be succesful in Canada with identical records is pretty ignorant.

    If I were responsible for franchise locations, I would first consider moving the New Jersey Devils, here is a team that is always a threat to win and still has trouble drawing fans on a consistent basis. That to me is an exhausted hockey market. And while I do believe Hamilton could support an NHL team (with arena upgrades at least), I believe the NHL would be better served strengthening the western conference geographically by moving a team to Seattle or Portland (which both have NHL ready facilities and present greater geographical adavantages).

  • lj

    Whatever the long term plan for Ontario is in the NHL's mind I think they need to let it be known. If the plan is to save it for a future expansion Franchise then say so, that is something I can respect. But if the plan is we really don't know then shame on them.

    Phx is in trouble and at some point the NHL needs to stop wishing for this sunbelt fan base and instead focus on what they have and that is an area in Ontario that could support another team.

  • lj

    @ jeanshorts:
    The trouble with your theory is that Subway & Quiznos are two different entities. I'm sure there are rules in the Subway world about you opening your Subway across the street from another Subway. Capice?

  • lj

    I also find it hilarious that the NHL keeps condemning Balsille for not adhering to the NHL's rules when it come to franchises and business, when in reality those same rules are in violation of a lot of real world laws in terms of business owning and operating. For instance the NHL has a rule that states you are not allowed to operate a franchise within 50 miles of another franchise. Would anyone ever be able to do that in the real world? "You can't open your Subway next to my Quiznos, you're in direct violation of the sandwich shop code of conduct."

  • lj

    “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“

    Exactly, so then what the hell is bettmans problem? Does anyone know who owns the arena in glendale? Cause is seems to me that that is who bettman is working for, not the nhl. I cant wait until Bettman gets replaced

  • lj

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    I almost wonder if Bettman isn’t learning from what happened to Quebec and Winnipeg, and doesn’t want to repeat the experience.

    What happened in Quebec City and Winnipeg were squarely arena issues. Those franchises also didn't have the financial wherewithal that Balsillie has to not only keep a team in Canada, but to have it thrive.

    The NHL's Napoleon is running out of excuses. As Eric Duhatschek's brilliant article in today's Globe and Mail suggests, Bettman's belief in franchise stability is purely situational. He may be opposed to moving Phoenix right now, but he's also used the threat of relocation several times in the past in attempts to secure new arenas. Hell, he did it in Edmonton and Calgary.

    Here's to hoping this Napoleon meets his fate at Waterloo, literally.

  • lj

    @ Jonathan Willis:

    Bettman sure fought hard to get a new building in Tampa… but did nothing to help the good folks in Winnepeg. Now, several money losing years later; Does anyone really belive a Winnipeg franchise would be in as much trouble as the one in Phoenix? I know there isn't the same corporate base… but the Jets would be dominate in that albiet smaller market. Bettman put Katz through the full ringer before approving the sale of the Oilers, and now this thing with Balsillie… I think Bettman is intimidated by the next generation of strong, wealthy Canadian ownership… People credit Bettman for saving hockey in Edmonton… I wonder if that's true at all. Maybe Bettman just didn't have the right crimminal investor lined up yet stateside at the time.

  • lj

    B-Rad wrote:

    They really didn’t caer to much about losing a Canadian team, but the sure don’t want to bring them back.

    I almost wonder if Bettman isn't learning from what happened to Quebec and Winnipeg, and doesn't want to repeat the experience.

  • lj

    Bettman doesn't seem to be nearly as concerned about the overall health of the league, as he is about his own position of power. In my line of work; we refer to this phenomina as "little-man-big-desk syndrom".