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Hamilton Has a Tiger by the Tail as NHL Fever Grips the City

Martin AverySenior Writer IMay 13, 2009

CLEMSON, SC - SEPTEMBER 23:  Katy Allen cheers on the Clemson Tigers as the Tigers host the University of North Carolina Tar Heels on September 23, 2006 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, South Carolina. (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Hamilton is going NHL hockey crazy even though it appears the NHL has drawn a line in the sand of the Arizona desert and Wayne Gretzky is reportedly on the side of Chicago sports czar Jerry Reinsdorf, who may already have a deal with local Phoenix politicians.

News of Hamilton's hopes for an NHL team made headlines from Edmonton to Montreal this morning. Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal reported that BlackBerry mogul Jim Balsillie has southern Ontario buzzing with hope.
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However, Kevin Werne, of the Ancaster News, close to Hamilton, reported that Hamilton politicians failed to reach a lease agreement with Balsillie to house a potential NHL franchise at Copps Coliseum.

Also, John Kernaghan of the Hamilton Spectator says Balsillie will seek more than $120-million in federal and provincial handouts to renovate the arena in Hamilton.

Meanwhile, it's believed Reinsdorf has already negotiated an agreement with Glendale politicians. Damien Cox, writing in the Toronto Star, claimed "sources indicated yesterday that Wayne Gretzky is "supportive" of the plan presented by Chicago sports czar Jerry Reinsdorf to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and keep them in Arizona."

Cox claims Gretzky would stay with the team as head coach under the ownership of a group of investors headed by Reinsdorf that would offer an estimated $130 million (U.S.) for the Coyotes.

Hockey fans in Phoenix are rallying but NHL fever has Hamilton in its grip. A popular poll in the Hamilton Spectator aimed at renaming the Phoenix Coyotes has the Hamilton Tigers in first place.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post says it's time Basillie and Bettman stopped brawling like hockey players.

Diane Francis, editor at large for the National Post, has a piece in the Huffinton Post saying, "The Phoenix Coyotes hockey team should move to southern Ontario and BlackBerry billionaire, Jim Balsillie, and the NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman, should both head for the showers."

She points out that Bettman opposes any moveโ€”which is unjustifiable. And Balsillie has been high-handed and has attempted to make this a patriotic issue to stir up Canadian public opinion.

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