Twas The Night Before Christmas

….ok wait, before I get started, I have a beef. I wake up three days a week to work out. At 37 with 2 kids, I need to git a fit, at least a little fit right? (Since I started this crazyness back in late March I have dropped 30 lbs, and yes I will share the plan!) So I turned on my Rogers HD box this am to the music channels owned by Jack FM, where I used to find a good mix of decent classic music and morning radio talk. What did I find this morning??? Las Vegas nightclub music in talkless environment! What a bummmer. I have tried to listen to q107 in the am, I like their music in the AM, but in my opinion Darringer talks too much and you know how I feel about this brother, Bill turn the channel Hayes.

Now, back to the story at hand. Can you imagine the scenario, on the same night the league hands out it’s holly grail, the Stanley Cup, the league loses a court battle calling into question the league constitution and the leagues ability to self govern the location of it’s teams. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh the irony. I am not suggesting it will happen that way, but the mere fact that it could is nothing short of pathetic. Kudos to both the CBC who have a very good summary up on their site right now and Stephen Brunt who has, count em 2, yes 2 good articles about the Mess in the Desert. Brunt’s beauties are here and here

Now, how many of you are sick and tired about this whole thing? Probably the same amount who just want the NHL season to end, regardless of who wins. Should the NHL win tomorrow and Balsillie not be successful (forget appeals for a minute) how psyched will you be that this story will go away for awhile? You see folks, here is the reality you need to know and accept. The sooner you do, the better off you will be. We, the people are sheep. This, like the NHL lockout/wasted season was never about us. This is all about selfish individuals doing what is best for their own gain, pecuniary or otherwise. When Balsillie or Bettman say this isn’t personal, they are both lying through their teeth. When Bettman says he wants to do what is best for hockey fans, he is lying, as he has in the past. When Balsillie says this is about Canadian fans from coast to coast, he is lying. This is about him, and his own gains. There is nothing wrong with that. The people are being used and their emotions are up for grabs and yet totally irrelevant. When Balsillie begs for folks to to join together before the judge, you have to ask yourself whether a judge in Arizona will care what Moro from Maple thinks? Of course not. This is about $ and and ego. Do you want to know the pneuiltimate issue here is?

Gary Bettman can’t have a second team come to this area for free. That’s it. There is no other issue at hand. Just like the lockout was about one issue (franchise values), there is a lot of smoke and mirrors, but in the end, Bettman has to fidn a way to extract as much cash as possible for a 2nd team in this area as possible. That is it.

Brunt hit’s one out of the park on this analysis:

“If David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski are indeed interested in buying the Phoenix Coyotes and keeping them alive in Arizona – as suggested in an affidavit sworn by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman – it would come as a huge surprise to many who know them. That’s because the owners of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts have been actively pursuing a very different agenda: Landing an NHL team that could be uprooted and relocated to a new arena in the Greater Toronto Area. Cynamon and Sokolowski have been quietly fleshing out that plan for months now, and have discussed it, at least informally, with both the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs and with the NHL commissioner. As recently as March, Sokolowski met with Bettman at the NHL’s New York offices. And the two Toronto businessmen have met with potential investors and sketched out the design for an NHL-ready arena as part of a larger development on the federally-owned lands at Downsview in the city’s north end, dubbed “Hockeyland.” They have also recently explored the possibility of purchasing at least one other struggling, portable NHL franchise. Now, according to Bettman’s sworn statement, Cynamon and Sokolowski have experienced a remarkable epiphany and are ready to bid for the chance to own and operate a franchise thousands of kilometres from home which has lost in the neighbourhood of $100-million (U.S.) over the last four seasons.”

Now you see, guys like Cynamon and Sokolowski present Bettman with everything he needs. And I mean everything. First, they are good guys. They have deep pockets and they won’t embarass him or the league. They are well respected members of the community here and would look good in the NHL owners circle. Not only that, they may be the only ones alive in this city who could make a deal with MLSE. The are Bettman’s white knight. The irony here is unmistakable. You see, David Stern was once taken to a place he didn’t want to go and as a result the NBA was suddenly going to expand to Toronto. Those who took Stern to that point were not rewarded with the franchise in the end, instead it was another rival group. Sound familiar? Balsillie may well be the one who leads the Toronto faithful to the promise land of landing a second team. However, it says here (as it has all along), that he will never get to enjoy the land once his followers arrive! Bettman, like Stern is that vindictive. Can you imagine the scenario that Brunt envisions in his column:

“Cynamon and Sokolowski believe that by allowing their names to be placed before the bankruptcy court among those who “have indicated an interest in operating the franchise in Phoenix,” they can curry favour with the league and gain the inside track on a second Toronto team, whether it’s the Coyotes, another ailing club or an expansion franchise.”

It goes further than that though. Guys like Cynamon and Sokolowski don’t make gambles of this kind without iron clad assurances. They don’t get used in processes as it may appear. It says here there is a whole lot of nudging and winking going on. What’s more? A certain radio host, who is close to both of these guys has been trumpeting for some time the exact same thing you have been reading here, that we are going to get a second team but it won’t be in Hamilton and it won’t be Balsillie’s team. Old TSM had a hunch. The same radio host is close with these two guys. He has them on in the dead of winter to talk Argo’s football! Nothing wrong with the old return back scratching is there? You give our one team some play, we keep you in the loop on certain things. This radio host doesn’t make bold predictions all the time (Mats Sundin to the Rangers and Nashivlle Predators to Balsillie aside). He has been too positive on this issue for too long to not have known something….

“If that’s the true story, Bettman is being at the very least misleading, if not disingenuous, by suggesting Cynamon and Sokolowski have any real interest in operating in Phoenix – beyond perhaps swallowing losses for a season or two before being granted permission to move to Ontario. And there’s no mistaking what Bettman is saying in his affidavit, which reads, in part: “These local expressions of interest in owning the Coyotes, as well as the passion of the community fan base as evidenced by the ‘Save the Coyotes’ campaign and the City of Glendale’s willingness to participate in enhanced partnership initiatives designed to improve the team’s performance in the state-of-the-art Arena, all indicate that relocation may well be unnecessary and is certainly premature for the 2009-10 season.”

Oh come on Stephen you can say it, Bettman is LYING!!! Someone smarter than me said something like, can you imagine what would happen if Bettman had the same stipulations he imposed on Balsillie when he tried to buy Pittsburgh imposed on Phoenix???? Let’s say the judge were to say, ok NHL, we will give you the right to walk away from Balsillie’s offer provided that any subsequent bid must agree to keep the Coyotes in Arizona for 7 years????????? 🙂 🙂 🙂 How empty would that list of purchasers be then???????? If that were to happen, it would be harder to tell which was worth less, an Alex Rios autograph or the Phoenix Coyotes. So if Bettman wanted Balsillie to commit to other markets for 7 years, he is going to make whomever buys the Coyotes make the same commitment right? It’s a great hockey market right??????

“So let’s get this straight: The NHL believes wholeheartedly that the Coyotes can survive in Glendale and is absolutely opposed to the team being sold and relocated to Southern Ontario, but is now open to offers for the team from individuals who the commissioner knows have been planning to do exactly that. Makes you wonder about the reality of the three other “bids” mentioned in Bettman’s affidavit from Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, Coyotes minority partner John Breslow, and an unnamed “Phoenix businessman.”How legitimate are they, and what’s the real long-term strategy behind them? Makes you wonder about the NHL’s actual commitment to the Phoenix market and those loyal fans Bettman loves to talk about. It certainly seems as though that might be lip service, to be abandoned just as soon as they win the current court battle.”

This whole thing stinks of conspiracy. It’s almost as bad the Ontario e-health scandal. Bettman looked at the NHL public and promised that the lockout was about the fans, keeping the game affordable to the fans. What has happened? Prices have gone up. Bettman told the world all was fine in Phoenix and the league wasn’t running the team. He stole his defense to that one from the Bill Clinton playbook. They weren’t running the team until it became necessary to object to the owners filing for bankruptcy. He has been meeting with Toronto owners about a potential second team in the area, despite telling the public they have never contemplated such a move. Now he is peddling out Toronto based ownership for a team in Arizona???? Someone with more time than me please find all the quotes from Bettman that talk about the pitfalls of foreign ownership of sports teams.

No, Balsillie isn’t the saint in this either. No court has ever decided a case based upon public opinion. At least no court of any substance. The public have been pawns in this whole thing. If he doesn’t succeed he will leave with a bruised ego, that is it. Others who did believe will have a broken heart, yet again.

Personally, I can’t see the judge taking on these enormous issues. I think you will hear more threats tomorrow of how bad this will end for both parties should it be left to the judge to decide. Instead of the entire hockey world being focused on what should be (it’s june 9th!) the final game of the year, 20 something Canada based scribes are going to be in the desert, in a courtroom. How pathetic. In the end I hope they all get exactly what they deserve.

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