Monday, June 15, 2009

It's back to the drawing board for Gary Balsillie

I've had this feeling from the start the Judge Redfield Baum was not going to make a ruling outside his court's jurisdiction. He repeatedly directed the parties to negotiate but to no avail. Lets face it, bankruptcy judges are not going to rule on anti-trust matters. You have to bring those suits before the proper court. So those the majority who voted in my poll last month turned out to be wrong.

Most laypeople like myself interpreted some of the criticism aimed at the NHL by Judge Baum as siding with Balsillie However, that was not the case. While noting that the case raised many unique legal issues, Judge Baum sided with the league on most of the issues. The judge said the Coyotes had a contract to play in Glendale, a Phoenix suburb, and Balsillie’s offer would violate that contract. I understand the type of bankruptcy filing in this case requires that all existing contracts be honoured.

So where does that leave Gary Balsillie. He has several options as I see it:

  • Submit a new bid to purchase the team but it couldn't include a relocation requirement. Then sue the NHL under anti-trust law. Though that has been tried before and failed.
  • Appeal the decision but a successful appeal is unlikely.
  • Try purchasing another team under distress. There quite a few of these around but somehow I suspect the NHL will reject him as an owner.
  • Start winning over existing NHL owner one at a time. When he has enough support then go after a franchise at that time.