Saturday, May 31, 2008

In the NHL's defence, Boots Del Biaggio was wearing a really nice suit

Gary Bettman was in his full-on Nathan Thurm routine, prevaricating and squirming like the coat hanger was still in his jacket, when Ron MacLean inquired during a pre-game interview on Hockey Night in Canada tonight about Nashville Predators owner William "Boots" Del Biaggio III's little legal imbroglio.

MacLean almost blew it when he asked about Del Biaggio being "charged" (no one's charged in a civil matter), but recovered by asking point-blank if this wasn't proof Jim Balsillie might have made a better owner for the Predators. Bettman responded with an all-time whopper: "You'd have to ask Craig Leipold," referring to the former owner who held out for less money.


Here's the background to what MacLean was asking about, from today's San Jose Mercury-News:
"In the lawsuit, DGB Investments, a San Jose firm that provides loans to businesses, accuses Del Biaggio of orchestrating a $3 million loan in November 2007 through 'a complete fraud,' and then refusing to pay it back when confronted. The lawsuit contends Del Biaggio secured the DGB Investments loan by claiming he had millions of dollars in assets in a Merriman account, but 'the truth was otherwise.'

"The suit says the $3.3 million account Del Biaggio used as security for the loan 'never belonged to Del Biaggio in the first place.' Rather, it was someone else's account 'doctored to make believe that the account statement belonged to Del Biaggio' with the intention of getting DGB Investments to make a $3 million loan to Del Biaggio.

"On May 15, after the loan was due, Del Biaggio 'admitted that he had significant issues and would be unable to pay,' the lawsuit says.
One would like to believe the NHL this time, since after being suckered a few times (John Spano, anyone?) it's bound to learn its lesson. None of this is proven in court, but keep an eye on how this plays out over the next few months. Also , please give Tom Benjamin from Canucks Corner credit for clueing in about Del Biaggio a year and a half ago.

(UPDATE: The Jerry Bruckheimer owning a team in Las Vegas rumour came up again during the second intermission. He would have plenty of know-how to bring the NHL about how to package a mediocre product.

UPDATE: It's on YouTube.)

Del Biaggio hit with lawsuit (Pete Carey and Howard Mintz, San Jose Mercury News)


Tyler King said...

I love the pictorial reference to one of the greatest SNL sketches of all time.

Is it on the interwebs anywhere?

sager said...

It's not the first Bettman/Thurm analogy... Jeff Z. Klein and Karl-Eric Reif introduced it back around 1998...

Here's the sketch

"I'm not being defensive! You're the one who's being defensive! Why is always the other person who's being defensive? Have you ever asked yourself that? Why don't you ask yourself that?"
(holds out paper) "This is an affadavit."
"I know that!"
"Well, let me finish. This is an affidavit from a woman who has severe nerve damage, on her upper thigh, from sitting on one of your defective whoopie cushions. Here, read it."
"You read it!"
"Well, I have read it."
"So, why do I have to read it?"

Andrew Bucholtz said...

The charge comment isn't as far off as you might think. In addition to the lawsuit, there's also an apparent SEC investigation going on, which can lead to charges (just ask Eugene Melnyk). Yes, MacLean was wrong because he hasn't been charged yet, but it's not just a civil matter. I wrote a bit about this earlier tonight. Bettman being interviewed by someone who doesn't work for his network = absolutely hilarious. The best part was him on the Canada-U.S. revenue gap: "It's a little disproportionate, and I think that might be a very good thing." Turn spin-o-meter up to 11!

sager said...

How many U.S. teams would have to be on the brink of financial disaster before Bettman lets one move into Southern Ontario? 10, 11?

Anonymous said...

The comment above about charges is a good one. Obviously, no charges have been filed, but a civil suit against one of your owners alleging fraud is still pretty bad.

Andrew Bucholtz said...

It's not just one owner, either: Melnyk's facing fraud charges from the SEC and the OSC, and the SEC's also going after the Ducks' Henry Samueli. Not so good for the league's reputation.

Robert C. said...

Ahhh yes this skit.

Nathan Thurm Skit

"Is it me? It's him right?" Yep that describes Gary.

andy grabia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sager said...

It's up Andy.

Anonymous said...

Now there is a second lawsuit against Boots. Same scam, different lender, more money.

This time he has screwed Heritage Bank, the bank he and daddy founded, out of almost $5.0 million.