Put on your rally caps!

JOE WARMINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

About the only thing Jim Balsillie hasn't done during his quest to relocate an NHL team to Hamilton is score the phantom franchise's first goal himself!

Would that be against the rules?

It would not stop the BlackBerry boss. If there is one thing we have learned about this man it is that he is relentless. While Gary Bettman is the kind of guy who enforces the rules, Balsillie is the kind of guy who makes his own.

He's already had season-ticket drives, ticked off just about everybody with any power in hockey, and now is spearheading a Make It Seven Day rally today that is actually giving away tickets for a team that still does not exist.

Tenacity! Just like the Canadians on Juno Beach, Balsillie is fearless toward potential danger but no matter the peril is going anyway!

The message with today's rally in Hamilton, and other barbecues and events across the country, is as clear and concise as a BlackBerry message coming from your boss.

Balsillie is getting himself an NHL team -- even if it's the last thing he does.

It's a goal that seems to be so clear to him. You can see it in his comments.

"Canadians have proven themselves to be the best hockey fans in the world," he said in a release. "It all adds up. We have a market that is crying out for an NHL franchise, great fans, a plan for a state-of-the-art arena and tremendous corporate support from Home Hardware, Labatt Blue, Prime Restaurants, DEWALT and FirstOntario Credit Union."

Phoenix seems to have a bankruptcy judge, fans who don't care and an empty arena!

You do the math.

Today Balsillie may get a better idea of just how many Canadians actually share his dream of bringing an NHL team to Hamilton. He already has 160,000 signatures on his website and now he'll find out who is prepared to stand up and fight in person.

Either way, it is clear he is not going away. This is the problem when you go to war with a Canadian hockey player. You have to be at the top of your game for 60 minutes and whatever overtime is necessary. Bettman is finding that out about Jim Balsillie.

There is no quit in this man. No matter how hard you body-check him he keeps getting up -- as he grabs your number to start plotting the payback hit.

Meanwhile Bettman, who is no slouch himself in terms of battling, will also learn what the support is really like here. You had better believe it that the NHL commissioner will be watching! And counting.

Put it this way, when Phoenix had its rally to save the Coyotes from moving this spring there were by most reports a paltry 200 people in attendance. Hamilton can in my view have no less than 10 times that today at its noon-time rally at Jackson Square behind Copps Coliseum if it is to successfully make the point that the team would be better-suited to play in a hockey-mad city rather than a desert with more rattlesnakes than hockey fans.

"I don't know how many but I do expect a good turnout," said Mayor Fred Eisenberger, adding he also expects the crowd to be "enthusiastic."

If the number who show up today is around 10,000, the NHL would be forced to take notice -- although it seems to prefer bankruptcy, lack of interest and few fans more than a rabid audience, growing market and rich ownership, so who knows.

"Make It Seven Day is all about providing a voice to Canadian hockey fans, while raising money for minor hockey teams across the country," stated Balsillie. "Canadians have proven themselves to be the best hockey fans in the world. They need to be heard."

Today is a good day to do that hockey fans because if there are just 500 people there, it's not good news for Balsillie.

Pretty gutsy and perfectly poignant for Balsillie to challenge people and publicly see who is with him. It takes a lot of guts to go against Bettman for those inside the club.

None of it seems to slow down Balsillie, who has nothing to lose because he is not in the club.

Yet.

Sooner or later this drama will have to come to an end and if I were to bet I would predict eventually Balsillie will get inside of this private lodge.

Playing the game of hockey the Canadian way usually comes out in favour of the good guys!

Who are you rooting for?

For me, I can't help myself cheering for whichever player has actually laced on a pair of skates and glided out onto that ice to play some shinny with the dream of hoisting a beautiful silver cup named Stanley.


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