Over the past few years Canadian Businessman Jim Balsillie has tried to buy several NHL franchises. Along the way he has ruffled some feathers. He had a near agreement to purchase the Nashville Predators but before the team was done he began selling season ticket packages to the good folks of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and that was a big no-no. Selling tickets to a team that has not been purchased or granted permission to relocate is frowned upon by the NHL owners. He then tried to backdoor his way into the ownership club by attempting to purchase the Phoenix Coyotes from the bankruptcy court.
Needless to say Mr. Balsillie is not very popular with NHL boss Gary Bettman, nor the 29 other owners who make decisions like this. This week there have been several reports both confirming and denying that the NHL has told Balsillie to tone down his antics and he will one day get a NHL team of his very own. That is likely a reaction to the strong showing Winnipeg, Manitoba fans have shown in buying up all of the season ticket packages in a little less that a quarter of an hour.
There is no doubt that whatever (and probably whenever) team Balsillie get his hands one will be relocated to Hamilton, Ontario. That is his plan and it looks to be a good one. Hamilton is on Lake Erie a few hours for both Toronto and Buffalo so having a team there would be very beneficial to the league in terms of geographical competition. Canada is also a strong hockey market and I thin any reasonably sized Canadian city can support a NHL franchise.
It in the end Bettman will once again have to admit that he was wrong. Many hockey fans see what True North did with the season ticket selling drive as teh same thing Balsillie tried to do. It’s not but we can see the argument there. Hamilton deserves a NHL team far more than cities like Columbus, Ohio, Long Island, New York, and yes Phoenix, Arizona do.