I would consider myself a casual hockey fan; I especially enjoy the playoffs and the power of the playoff beards. My one personal fan rule is that, whenever possible, I root for Canadian teams. It’s their sport, and I think it’s silly the National Hockey League expanded into cities that only see snow when “It’s A Wonderful Life” is on television.
Cities like Phoenix, where the NHL finds itself today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court trying to seize ownership of the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes. The league’s opponent is Jim Balsillie, a Canadian billionaire who founded Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry.
Balsillie is the only prospective buyer of the club, offering more than $240 million, and he wants to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario. But this is his third attempt at buying a franchise — the two previous attempts failed — and earlier this summer NHL owners voted 26-0 against Balsillie owning a franchise because he lacked the “good character and integrity required of a new owner,” as one owner put it.
The NHL has countered with a $140 million offer, essentially becoming the team’s caretaker until another owner can be found.
Not surprisingly, today’s hearing is front-page news in Canada, with at least four major newspapers blogging live from Phoenix. The hearing is expected to continue through Friday, and Judge Redfield T. Baum has said he will rule in the case no later than Oct. 1, when the NHL’s 2009-2010 season beings.
The Coyotes franchise, incidentally, moved to Phoenix from their original home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1996 because of financial problems.