The Three Little Pigs: Balsillie, Bettman, and the Toronto Maple Leafs
A puppet, a giant, and a man on a mission makes for an interesting test of wills.
THE PUPPET - GARY BETTMAN
It's easy for people to target Mr Bettman and say he's the cause of all the evil behind the "apparent" NHL blockade of another franchise in Canada. If we look at his role in the NHL it really is clear however that he is merely a puppet for the rest of the NHL brass.
There is probably no brass more powerful in the league than those "brilliant minds" at the headquarters of The Toronto Maple Leafs. Considering that they are a revenue generating machine for NHL and an original six team and also in what some might call the the hockey centre of the universe for the NHL, they carry tons of weight.
So if you see or hear Gary Bettman hard lining about this and that, remember he's paid to voice the concerns of the existing owners as a group.
THE GIANT - THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS EMPIRE
Big money, big city, big egos, deep pockets, and greedy investors with big mouths. Welcome to Maple Leafs Sport & Entertainment Ltd.
It has been clear for a long time that the Leafs loath the idea of a team anywhere close to the GTA. To be honest, if you were a corporation who had millions of dollars worth of customer loyalty in the cities of Hamilton and KW you would want to protect those interests too.
Also it is possible that the addition of the Ottawa Senators not so many years ago slammed the profit margins of MLS more than they had anticipated, thus leaving a very bad taste in their mouths.
This might explain their reluctance to allow another team anywhere close to their market, not to mention during an economic recession. If you think the Leafs are going to budge from their position THINK AGAIN. Balsillie has a mammoth mountain to climb to convince the MLS that their pockets won't be hit because the fact is THEY WILL BE.
MAN ON A MISSION - JIM BALSILLIE
To be honest, I must first clarify the use of little pigs was just a hook and not made in any way to reflect on Jim Balsillie. I mean, come on let's face it, how can anybody not respect this man's tenacity?
What Canadian born hockey player who ended up with billions in their bank account wouldn't want to buy themselves an NHL hockey franchise? If there ever was a more suitable "David" to take down Goliath, I don't think I can think of one.
Personally, I think if Jim can't pull off buying the Coyotes and bringing them here, then his next step should be to go after the ultimate prize...THE TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS and give them an owner with guts and heart.
Perhaps this is just an early chapter in a long book that ends up with Balsillie owning the Leafs. We'll have to wait and see, but it would be sweet justice wouldn't it?
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