NHL turns down money for bankruptcy

STEVE SIMMONS

, Last Updated: 9:00 AM ET

I understand why a control freak such as Gary Bettman is annoyed by billionaire Jim Balsillie. That much is easy.

What I don't understand is why the rest of the National Hockey League owners don't welcome Balsillie into their club with open arms.

Bettman, you may remember, wouldn't allow Balsillie to purchase the Nashville Predators. But he did usher William (Boots) Del Biaggio into the club, first with an attempt to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and move them to Kansas City and later as a minority owner in Nashville.

Balsillie has a paper worth of some $4 billion US and who knows what else he owns. Del Biaggio just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States and who knows what else he owes.

In simple terms, Bettman turned away the billionaire and ushered in the broke guy. Some leadership.

NHL owners should be asking questions of the commissioner -- like why he turns down real money for no money?

Balsillie may be a rogue and going about it all wrong, but if you look at what supposed rogues like Jerry Jones or Mark Cuban have done for the NFL or NBA, you hardly can argue with the results.

Balsillie would be great for NHL business. It's about time somebody realized that.

THIS AND THAT

This much we know: Mats Sundin has a conscience. If he's going to leave the Maple Leafs, he'd like to leave something behind. A deal may be in the works to allow Sundin to negotiate openly with NHL teams prior to the free-agent deadline of July 1. That would enable him to pick his team, agree to terms and then the Leafs could be compensated in some meagre form. In a deal like that, the Leafs save some face, Sundin saves some face. It's not dissimilar to what Nashville did last year in trading Kimmo Timonen to Philadelphia prior to free agency ... The offer to Ron Wilson to coach the Leafs comes with no shortage of questions. Starting with: Why hire a coach before you hire a general manager? Cliff Fletcher contends that any GM would be happy to have Wilson as coach. But if that is the case, why have none of the five teams, who replaced coaches at the end of the season, chosen to interview him? ... If Wilson does accept the Leafs position, the speculation about Brian Burke leaving Anaheim for Toronto will not end until next July or until Burke leaves. It is looking more and more as though Fletcher will be in charge of the Leafs for the entire 2008-09 season.

HEAR AND THERE

Everybody has had a good laugh about NHL ratings on American TV, but last Saturday night, with Game 4 of the Stanley Cup final on NBC and the widely promoted Kimbo Slice/MMA debut on CBS, the ratings for both programs were basically identical. If MMA is supposedly the hot new thing, then the NHL must be doing better in the U.S., than most of us thought ... This Sidney Crosby-Don Cherry squabble is not about to go away. Crosby insiders are furious about Hockey Night in Canada's treatment of Sid The Kid. This little war may get worse before it gets better ... One quick aside: One of the sponsors of Coach's Corner was Gatorade, with an ad that features Crosby ... Maxime Talbot, who emerged as the MVI of the playoffs -- the most valuable interview -- was holding court doing interviews in English, when he turned to the French reporters and said something. They all laughed. When I asked afterwards what Talbot had said, he said he was complaining about a certain reporter having terrible breath. We won't say who ... You may remember I once wrote that no team with Chris Osgood in goal can win the Stanley Cup. Or, better yet, you may have forgotten I wrote such nonsense ... Ken Holland is so loyal he wants both Dominik Hasek and Chris Chelios to return to the Red Wings next season, in part-time roles. The two future Hall of Famers didn't play a game in the final.

SCENE AND HEARD

For sale by auction: Evander Holyfield's humble Atlanta home. Only 109 rooms, 54,000 square feet, 17 bathrooms and a bowling alley. Holyfield can't make the mortgage payments anymore. Guess those $167 million US of career earnings could be stretched only so far ... I will never understand why the NFL pays so much for its rookies. The NHL and NBA have entry-level contracts. In baseball, you have to earn your way up the ladder. But in the NFL, Darren McFadden, for example, signs with the Oakland Raiders for $60 million without having carried the ball a single time. That's just bad business for a league that is supposed to do everything right ... I read the other day that Glen Wesley retired and honestly I thought he already had ... In other news: The Major Indoor Soccer League has folded ... Since leaving the Blue Jays, Benjie Molina has been crazy hot with the San Francisco Giants, hitting .305 in a season and a third, with 120 RBIs during that time. But he has yet to steal a base with the Giants: He did steal one with the Jays ... Floyd Mayweather Jr. has announced his retirement from boxing. This is his second retirement. Let us know when he's doing it for real.

AND ANOTHER THING

They are not kidding when they call the Red Wings a family. Every time you turned around in the playoffs you were running into one of the players' fathers ... With Kerry Joseph, Kevin Glenn, Casey Printers and ancient Anthony Calvillo at the helm, is this the strongest starting quarterbacking the East has had in years? ... While in Michigan, Tiger Woods said that nobody watches hockey anymore. And at the very same time, the Red Wings were outdrawing the Pistons on local TV ... Even though Pens winger Marian Hossa was terrific in the playoffs and, especially, in the last four games of the Stanley Cup final, he still can't be the best player on your team. He's a superb complementary player and would be wise to stay in Pittsburgh ... Kobe Bryant was very quiet in Game 1 of the NBA final. Don't expect him to be quiet in Game 2 tonight ... If everyone in baseball knew that Armando Benitez was toast, why didn't the Blue Jays know? .... Purely personal: But I still miss Orlando Hudson ... And, hey, whatever became of Frank Pietrangelo?


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