Bettman and Billionaire Balsillie Butt Heads Over Bankrupt Coyotes

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 6, 2009

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 05:  Jim Balsillie Chairman and Co-CEO of Research In Motion and new owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins poses with his Blackberry in a press conference announcing the purchase of the team alongside Mario Lemieux after the first period at Mellon Arena on October 5, 2006 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is butting heads with Jim Balsillie, again. This time, Balsillie blindsided Bettman by making a great big offer to get the Phoenix Coyotes out of bankruptcy, if he can move the team out of the false hockey market of Arizona into the hockey hotbed of Ontario.

Balsillie is a billionaire and his $212.5M USD is not likely to be topped.The Coyotes have received another offer for about half the dollar amount but with a promise to keep the team in Phoenix.

Balsillie tried to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins then the Nashville Predators and came up against Bettman both times. Balsillie planned to move the Penguins and then the Predators to Ontario.

Bettman did not like the planned move and he did not like it when Balsillie started selling season ticket packages for the the team in Hamilton, Ontario.

It will be up to a bankruptcy judge to decide if the franchise is likely to be profitable in Phoenix in the future. The Coyote's losses this year are, reportedly, $45M, according to The FAN 590 and total $200M over the years, according to Reuters.

Bettman does not call the shots, of course, but speaks on behalf of the NHL's board of governors. He tries to do what they want him to do. Even so, it appears to be a bit of a personal battle as he has locked horns with Balsillie before.

Coyotes CEO Jerry Moyes has left the keys of the club on the table and is listed as a creditor in the Section 11 bankruptcy case as he believes the team owes him over a million dollars.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.