Wednesday, June 03, 2009

A little levity, a little Gary and little coming from MLSE

A little levity is always good with regard to the Phoenix Coyotes situation. Seeing Gary Bettman represented by Nathan Thurm, the chain-smoking lawyer character whom Martin Short played on the mid-'80s Saturday Night Live is almost as funny as the commish himselfclaiming the Coyotes "were never in jeopardy."

Meantime, and it's not as if people are unawares about this, but there is nothing-but-nothing coming out of MLSE about the possibilty of a team moving into Southern Ontario.

One would expect that to be the case, of course, and perhaps people who read the business section faithfully would have heard about the following. However, this section from a Phoenix Business Journal profile of Richard Rodier, Jim Balsillie's legal eagle, really shows how defensive MLSE is about the A-word, antitrust.
"At a 2008 sports business conference in Toronto run by then-Anaheim Ducks General Manager Brian Burke, several people in attendance recount a tense moment when Rodier posed an antitrust question to Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment President Richard Peddie at the end of a panel session.

" 'Why, if I’m in the city of Toronto, can’t I watch the Ottawa Senators?' Rodier asked.

" 'I’m not going to debate antitrust law with you,' said Peddie, who did not return calls requesting comment for this story.

"Rodier defended the question last week, saying that it was legitimate. 'To ask a question that makes someone who may be operating outside the law uncomfortable is not in my view a bad thing,' he said."
That can be backed 100 per cent. No doubt a few people have wondered about an antitrust suit against the NHL at some point down the line. A court has found that Major League Baseball's infamous antitrust exemption does not apply to the sale of franchises, so speaking as a layperson, it could be a legal tempest.

Also on this topic, this site's own Andrew Bucholtz was on a conference call where former CFL commish Tom Wright talked about Balsillie's application. Here's Part 1 and Part 2.

That's about it from here. It would be remiss not to pass along something from the article on Rodier that seemed funny, since it furthered the stereotype that all Canadians know each other.
"(Rodier) then went on to the University of Toronto Law School, earning a law degree in 1984 and coming to the Canadian bar in 1986.

"Balsillie graduated from the University of Toronto in 1984 with an undergraduate degree, but Rodier said they didn’t know each other at the time."
The U of T only has 60,000 students. There's a good chance a law student and an undergrad would not be acquainted.

(Pretty please keep in mind a much lazier man was earlier to the game with the Bettman-as-Thurm comparison. Granted, this space has also likened Bettman to the Chip Diller character in National Lampoon's Animal House ("Remain calm! All is well!) and the NHL to Cameron Frye in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.)

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