When are Jim Balsillie backers/NHL bashers going to understand that when the League says he "lacks the good character and integrity required of a new owner," comparing his record to that of John Spano and Bruce McNall is pointless. He conspired to send a team into bankruptcy so he could buy it and move it without operating within the League's bylaws. No, he's not the crook Boots Del Biaggio was; he just doesn't have an ounce of trust from the other 29 owners who played ball with the NHL. The "what about these criminals, huh HUH?!?" argument is absurd — cheap heat where a meaningful discussion of Balsillie's tactics should be instead.
Greg's right of course: The likes of Spano and friends are all pretty well irrelevant when it comes to what's happening in a courtroom in Arizona these days, and that's why I haven't been invoking their names daily when writing about this mess. Granted, the NHL's made some poor decisions in allowing some members into their club, but when faced with their misdeeds, these various miscreants have been shown the door.
That said, this "ounce of trust" nonsense is as big a red herring as anything. The league's left making an argument on character and integrity solely because that's what the language in its constitution calls for, but the only real blight on Balsillie's character that's relevant to these proceedings is where he wants a team.
It too often gets forgotten that Balsillie didn't just arrive on the scene with his attempt to buy the Penguins. In fact, Mr. BlackBerry has been lurking and looking for an NHL team in Hamilton since way back in 2004, when he set up a company and employed the services of Richard Rodier to that end. And when he arrived, cash in hand, in Pittsburgh with that franchise on death's door, the league had one eyebrow raised as to his intentions.
They didn't trust him then.
Balsillie's subsequent actions in Nashville and Phoenix are really besides the point, as the two sides were already well entrenched before these showdowns took place. The "tactics" employed are nothing but a means to an end, his tools to right what Balsillie perceives as an injustice in a league that has too often turned its back on his neighbours.
Elsewhere, the league is conspiring, Jerry Moyes is conspiring and so, too, is Jerry Reinsdorf and whoever else wants in on this sordid affair. Everyone wants what they want and, as a result, we're left with a court of law to mete out justice.
All of the evidence suggests the league has wanted nothing to do with another team in Southern Ontario for decades, and Balsillie wants nothing but that end. The two positions are incongruous, and whether or not the 29 other well-moneyed men in the club want to sing kumbaya 'round the governors' table with him has as much to do with this as Mary Poppins.
It's all cheap heat, Greg, every last word.