NHL rightfully wins case in court

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:16 AM ET

Hopefully, the NHL has seen the last of Jim Balsillie and any other rogues who think they can buy their way into anything.

While those in Southern Ontario (and anywhere else Balsillie managed to suck in followers by waving the Canadian flag) are surely disappointed with last night's ruling from Judge Redfield T. Baum, the reality is the RIM owner had no right to dictate how or where the NHL conducts its business.

Whether the Coyotes will ever be viable in Phoenix is irrelevant.

The point is local and state governments, many businesses (and even some fans) had invested heavily in giving NHL hockey a chance to grow there. The NHL did well to protect their interests by defending its simple right to establish where franchises are located.

More importantly, the league reinforced it is solely up to the league's governors -- not a court or a group of well-heeled businessmen -- to choose who joins their esteemed ranks.

And while the rest of the professional sporting world breathes a sigh of relief, so can hockey fans who will now be spared having a dangerously overzealous owner in the NHL who has demonstrated repeatedly he doesn't want to play by the rules.

No different than Bill Gates' inability to gain membership at Augusta National golf course, Balsillie was simply denied entry to a private club.

Again.

Had his backdoor attempt to purchase and relocate the Coyotes franchise to Hamilton via bankruptcy court been successful, the floodgates would have opened on sports teams picking up stakes at the first sign of trouble and/or a juicy offer.

Flames co-owner and longtime chair of the NHL's board of governors Harley Hotchkiss told the Sun Sunday the Flames likely wouldn't still be in Calgary had his group had the ability to entertain the notion of a sale elsewhere.

There is a process, and Balsillie refused to accept that.

He will now pay the price by being forever shut out of a league that will eventually see another team in southern Ontario. He will never be allowed to take part in it, especially after waging the type of public relations campaign he ran to try making the league look like bad guys in all this.

While commissioner Gary Bettman is nothing if not hardheaded when it comes to admitting the prospect of NHL prosperity in the desert is unlikely, one only needs to look at the resurrection of the Pittsburgh Penguins to realize a winning team could fix anything anywhere.

See the Flames or the Ottawa Senators for more on that.

Prior to yesterday's ruling, the greatest triumph in all this was the phenomenal seven-game series between the Penguins and the Detroit Red Wings was so spectacular it was never overshadowed by the courtroom proceedings in Phoenix.

Sorry Jim, but the game won out.

Again.

As persistent and irritating as Matt Cooke, Balsillie's bunch refused to admit defeat last night, insisting they still held out hope the league would be willing to participate in the mediation process the court originally suggested.

Suffice it to say the league and its governors (who are thoroughly disgusted by the Balsillie-induced headaches, legal fees and grandstanding) will not play nice with a man who tried bullying his way into its ranks.

The league doesn't need Balsillie's money, and it doesn't need his type.

And thanks to Judge Baum, it won't have to put up with him any longer.

They can now handpick the Coyotes' next owner -- someone who could have been Balsillie had he decided years ago to take a diplomatic approach.

You play by the league's rules or you can't play at all.

And there's nothing wrong with that.


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