Jim Balsillie Barking Up Wrong Tree...Again

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Jim Balsillie Barking Up Wrong Tree...Again
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

The man who can't take no for an answer from the NHL is at it again.

Jim Balsillie, the man who doesn't mind if you call him the person who invented the Blackberry (he didn't), is again crossing sticks with Gary Bettman and the rest of the NHL over moving an NHL franchise into his back yard. 

Balsillie is already 0-for-2 in this game, and there is nothing to indicate that his outlandish $212 million bid to take over the Phoenix Coyotes has any better chance. 

Aligned against Balsillie this time is not only the full force of the NHL, but those of the rest of North American professional sports, the state of Arizona, a former presidential contender and perhaps the U.S. legal system. 

Friend of the court briefs filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy court are overwhelming in favor of rejection of the proposed takeover, and all point to the fact that the NHL should not be forced to take on an owner that it does not care to do business with. 

Balsillie gave up on his bid to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins when the NHL made it clear that the team would not be moved and that the league would retain the right to take the team over should a move to Hamilton be attempted. 

Balsillie went so far as to sell season-ticket licenses in his next go-around with the league, this time with the Nashville Predators. This move so angered several members of the NHL's Board of Governors that several stated they would never do business with Balsillie again, regardless of circumstances. 

The fact that Balsillie stood down, returned the money (without interest), and took down the Hamilton Predators Web site did next to nothing to quell the anger in the NHL board room. There are more than a few NHL owners today who would rather slew foot Balsillie than work with him. 

Two years later, here we are again. 

Balsillie, this time trying to use a bankruptcy court to force himself and Hamilton upon the league, needs the court to rule in quick order that the league does not own any portion of the Coyotes, that it has no legal right to control the location and ownership of its franchises, and that its present member teams would not be harmed financially or otherwise by the move. He would also have to hope that the league did not appeal the decision of the court or that the league did not simply disband the franchise. 

Maybe in Balsillie's world, imposing yourself on others is all in a day's work. Perhaps you build empires like RIM and Microsoft by forcing capitulation at all costs. 

But in the world of pro sports, especially in these dire economic times, you can't bully your way into places where you are not wanted.

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