More support for the idea of a second NHL team in Southern Ontario came from Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, according to the New York Times.
The PM is a member of the Society for International Hockey Research and has written papers on the history of the game,
The NY Times quoted him saying, “I’d love another NHL team in Canada...particularly southern Ontario can support another team.”
Harper did not comment specifically on Jim Balsillie's bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, Ontario.
The Phoenix Coyotes filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, and Balsillie made a $212.5 million offer for the team, contingent on their moving to Southern Ontario.
The Balsillie group is now working on a deal for a permanent lease of Hamilton's Copps Coliseum, according to the Hamilton Spectator.
Representatives of Balsillie's hockey project met in secret yesterday with mayor Fred Eisenberger and city officials to advise them of their interest in securing the exclusive NHL rights for the 24-year-old arena.
Eisenberger told a media conference that Balsillie's bid to purchase the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes and move the club to Steeltown represent Hamilton's best chance to date to fulfill the 50-year-old dream of bringing the NHL to the city, according to the Spectator.
The Hamilton mayor skirted any comments about Balsillie's battles with the NHL commissioner over his franchise relocation efforts. He stressed Hamilton is "ready, willing and able" to become home to a second southern Ontario team.
Eisenberger confirmed that the city has had talks with a second group also interested in bringing a NHL team here. The Hamilton mayor also made it clear that Copps Coliseum can be renovated for NHL hockey in time for the 2009 season.