Thursday, June 05, 2008

Timing is everything: Del Biaggio's demise and Balsillie's reprise

I was pleasantly surprised to see separate but related news stories lately. In one, William "Boots" Del Biaggio, is reported to have four lawsuits filed against him, including failure to pay back a $1 million loan, fraud, and falsifying documents to get loans. If you remember, this was Bettman's golden boy for rescuing the Nashville Predators instead of supporting the sale to Jim Balsillie. 

As a refresher, here is what the mood was like one year ago (from ESPN's Scott Burnside, July 13, 2007):

"The commissioner can ram the sale of the [Nashville] team down the collective throats of Leipold and Del Biaggio -- which is what he's been trying to do since he learned Balsillie was on the verge of signing a letter of intent to buy the Predators in late April... or Bettman can find a way to backtrack and do what's right for Leipold, the fans, the other owners, and the game."

Bettman is looking like a real genius, especially now that Boots' owns a substantial portion of the Predators--about 27%. Good luck finding local ownership to fill that gap Gary. It is really nice to see Nashville on solid ground, and to see the NHL deal with such a stand-up businessman.

Maybe it is just a coincidence, but Teresa Tedesco from the National Post reported the other day that Jim Balsillie has been in talks with several teams in the southern USA. With the economic situation down there, and the fact that Canadian teams provided one-third of the NHL's ticket revenue, suggests moving a team to Canada in the near future is very likely. 

I doubt this will happen during Bettman's tenure, unless of course, he visits the Emerald City for a heart, a brain, and some courage.

Stay posted for more developments, this could be an interesting off-season.

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