Thursday, May 24, 2007


First things first, James Mirtle is the man for this. Meantime, there are so many ways to take the semi-bombshell that BlackBerry baron Jim Balsillie is buying the Nashville Predators.

  1. Semi-burn on Gary Bettman, since he has franchise relocation on his plate during his league's showcase event -- ironically during the first final between two 1990s expansion teams. OK, it's not really a burn on Bettman, since the fact a NHL team can still fetch $200 million is going to make Gary's bosses very, very happy.
  2. Big burn on Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment, Ltd., which might have to pull out all the stops to keep a third team from setting up in Southern Ontario and outplaying them on the ice (we're including the Sabres).

    Writing yesterday of how the Senators came into being in late 1990, Damien Cox said, "The Leafs didn't have to formally 'block' Hamilton -- every other NHL team knew going in what the deal was."

    What kind of pull do the Leafs have now, with all the new franchises and owners that have come since 1990? As Cox noted, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk had his own battles with MLSEL over trying to install his St. Michael's Majors at Maple Leaf Gardens. A Kitchener-Waterloo team wouldn't be that much of a direct threat to Buffalo, so there goes the help from the Sabres that the Leafs got back in '90.

    The Western teams who are stewing over the lack of home dates against the Leafs and Canadiens (oh, and Ottawa) between now and 2009-10 might figure that another Canadian team increases their chances of getting a better schedule. Aside from a Bill Wirtz here or an Ed Snider there, the Leafs' allies are mostly gone.
  3. Possible burn on Winnipeg and Hamilton, who might be getting set up to have their hopes dashed again. It would right suck if that happens to the 'Peg. Hamilton, not so much. Does anyone really believe there's still a chance for Hamilton with a 1970s-vintage arena, an eroding commercial and industrial base and an AHL team which can't draw flies?

Gotta level: We're going for Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo. Mirtle has unearthed this nugget -- Balsillie's Research in Motion owns land in Cambridge right off the 401, barely a hour's drive out of Toronto proper. You don't say.

The end of the Predators (James Mirtle)
The song is over in Music City USA (Stephen Brunt,
RIM exec to buy NHL Predators (Scott Stinson, National Post)

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