Canadians back Balsillie: Poll

Rob Longley, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 4:01 PM ET

While Jim Balsillie continues to anxiously await a potentially crucial decision from Phoenix judge Redfield T. Baum, an admittedly biased court of public opinion has weighed in with a predictable result.

A "lighting" poll conducted yesterday by the NRG Research Group of Calgary indicates that 56% of Canadians believe moving the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton would be in the best interests of hockey versus 9% who believe the team would be best to remain in the Arizona desert.

Given that the poll was conducted in Canada, there is little surprise that the results came out squarely in favour of the Canadian billionaire who is attempting to purchase the Coyotes and move them here as early as next season.

In the poll of 1,013 Canadians, that number in favour of the move to Hamilton jumps to 82% among those who consider themselves loyal hockey fans.

As well, the poll indicates twice as many Canadians trust Balsillie to do what is best for the sport (38%) as opposed to 18% in favour of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

Other results - none of which come as a surprise considering the strong sentiments Canadians have shown in seeing another team moving across the border - are that two out of three Canadians have been following the story with 46% admitting they have been following it closely.

None of this matters to Bettman, of course, who has given every indication of fighting to the end to keep the move from happening. But the poll also indicated that respondents don't trust the commissioner.

"In the battle for public opinion, Jim Balsillie is clearly winning over Gary Bettman," Bruce Cameron, the senior vice-president of NRG Research said in a statement. "The NHL commissioner is trusted by only a small fraction of hockey fans in Canada do do what is best for the sport."

As for the opinion that matters most - the one coming from Baum's bankruptcy courtroom - Balsillie spokesman, Bill Walker, told Sun Media today that the group has not been given an indication whether a ruling will be handed down later today or tomorrow.

Yesterday, Balsillie expressed confidence that the court would rule in his favour.


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