Jim Balsillie is not about to give up on his dream.
Not this soon. Not this easily. Not even after being belted around by a U.S. bankruptcy judge.
Balsillie, the Research in Motion co-CEO, indicated in a statement released late last night by his chief spokesperson that he was continuing his pursuit of bringing a seventh National Hockey League franchise to Canada -- and his pursuit of the Phoenix Coyotes.
"We're still here," said Bill Walker, Balsillie's public relations man. "The Phoenix court confirmed Mr. Balsillie was approved as an NHL owner in 2006 and remains so. We believe he has made the best offer and Hamilton remains the best location for this team.
"The court did not approve either our approach or the NHL's." Walker went on to state that the "court still controls the sale process. As a result, we look forward to hearing from the NHL soon on its view or our relocation application and an appropriate relocation fee, so as to allow the court to determine if that fee is reasonable."
Balsillie seems surprisingly confident that he can still purchase the Coyotes and move them to Hamilton, even if logic dictates that the NHL wants nothing to do with him.
"We still think there is enough time for the NHL to approve Mr. Balsillie's application and move the team to Hamilton by September," Walker said. He also said that Balsillie would be willing to participate in mediation if the NHL was willing to do so on the matter of the Coyotes sale.
Almost certainly, the NHL will finance the team through the summer and perhaps into next season, and as a secured creditor will get back all of their millions upon the eventual sale of the team. But the fact that a decision was made in court that appeared as a victory for the NHL does not necessarily mean that in the long term. Eventually, they'll have to deal with the mess that is Phoenix hockey and eventually they'll have to come to the determination that the Coyotes franchise cannot survive in Arizona.
Judge Redfield T. Baum hinted in court last week that he may ask the NHL to come up with a relocation fee for the Coyotes to provide him with some guidance on his ruling of the bankruptcy sale but upon further review he chose not to proceed in that manner. In his ruling, he indicated the Balsillie offer had not taken into account a relocation fee. This came to light outside court in Phoenix last week, when Balsillie's right hand man, Richard Rodier, indicated that Balsillie would walk away from his $212.5-million US offer were the relocation fee not to his liking.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted to being pleased by the Court's ruling and said "we will turn our attention" to making the Coyotes franchise viable in the Phoenix-Glendale area.
"We are confident that we will be able to find such a buyer for the Coyotes and that the claims of legitimate creditors will be addressed," Daly said.