Gretzky, MLSE's silence is telling

Gretzky stands to make more than $22 million (all terms US) should Jim Balsillie's attempt to...

Gretzky stands to make more than $22 million (all terms US) should Jim Balsillie's attempt to purchase the Coyotes go through. (Lyle Aspinall/Sun Media)

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:35 AM ET

The silence of both Wayne Gretzky and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd. is indeed strange in this very entangled business of the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Coyotes.

Gretzky stands to make more than $22 million (all terms US) should Jim Balsillie's attempt to purchase the Coyotes go through. This is the same Gretzky who has coached the Coyotes to four non-playoff seasons in the Valley of the Sun.

MLSEL, owners of the Maple Leafs, stand to be most affected by the possibility of another team in southern Ontario, yet they are mum on the subject. Not a word from blabber mouth CEO Richard Peddie. Not a call returned from chairman of the board Larry Tanenbaum, who always returns calls. Even quiet from GM Brian Burke, who is never quiet.

While the Leafs clearly don't want company in the marketplace, the market does want competition. It wants available tickets. It wants more affordable tickets. It wants a playoff team. It wants an organization it can trust and believe in.

By remaining silent, MLSEL comes off as arrogant and monopolistic. The Balsillie-NHL fight isn't about the Maple Leafs, but it affects their business. Hockey fans want to hear from them, and hear from Gretzky, who has come out in favour of more Canadian teams, just not necessarily his.

This and that

Funny, I can't remember Gary "we don't run out on cities" Bettman doing much to prevent the moving of the Winnipeg Jets, Quebec Nordiques or Hartford Whalers. But how about him running out on owner Jerry Moyes, who only pumped about a $100 million of his own money on the lost cause that is hockey in Phoenix and now is fighting Bettman? ... Another Bettman quickie: He insisted media people were guilty of "irresponsible reporting" when questioning the financial state of the Coyotes ... A question for NHL owners: The league is the second-largest secured creditor, at $35 million, in the Phoenix bankruptcy. So how does the commissioner explain to the owners he works for that he is fighting against getting the league's money back? ... Eric Staal isn't just a lock for the Canadian Olympic team, but he should play on the first line with Sidney Crosby and Jarome Iginla. My second line would have Ryan Getzlaf, centring Corey Perry and Rick Nash. I'd like a fourth line of Mike Richards, Shane Doan and Derek Roy. Just not sure about the third line ... In this era of overhyping everything, the Crosby-Alex Ovechkin show is surpassing any and all expectations. Haven't seen anything this much fun at that speed since Calgary-Edmonton in the mid-1980s.

Hear and there

There is every reason to doubt many of the unsubstantiated accusations in Selena Roberts' book about Alex Rodriguez, which her former New York Times colleague Murray Chass calls a "journalistic abomination." I have my own Roberts story, although I have never met the woman. Years back, when Mike Danton was accused of trying to bump off agent David Frost, she lifted several quotes from an exclusive interview I did with Frost and basically rewrote my work for the Times, crediting the Toronto Star. When I contacted her and requested a correction, she never replied. The ombudsman from the Times said he would look into it: He never got back to me either ... One more quick Roberts story: She was the journalist who screamed loudest about the apparent rape involving lacrosse players at Duke University. She wrote vigilantly about it, almost all of it proving to be untrue upon further examination ... There's nothing wrong with what Manny Ramirez did, if you happen to be a female and trying to get pregnant ... And to think, the only thing that used to be artificially enhanced at Dodger Stadium was certain parts of certain fans.

Scene and heard

How strange will it be to see a Baseball Hall of Fame without its leading hitter, Pete Rose, and its leading home run hitter, Barry Bonds. Isn't that like a Hockey Hall without Gordie Howe and Gretzky? ... No need to drug test a knuckleball pitcher: Tim Wakefield, at age 43, is pitching better than ever ... Another team certain to be against Balsillie's bid to move a team to Hamilton -- the Red Wings. The Wings, who want out of the Western Conference, would not agree to any team moving from West to East ... Three words for the unforgettable Brett Favre: Please go away ... And hey, whatever became of Josh Towers?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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