Saturday, August 29, 2009

Antitrust? The Leafs and NHL asked for it

From The Rink has linked to a Reuters article which said Jim Balsillie is going to have ground for an antitrust suit vs. the NHL.

Wait, there's more: Balsillie and the boys, according to a court filing transcribed by James Mirtle, have "discovered evidence that, despite the NHL repeatedly telling this Court and the Canadian Competition Bureau that the territorial veto rights provision in Article 4.3 of the NHL Constitution is no longer operative, the Toronto Maple Leafs take the exact opposite view." That could be kind of huge, especially with what business experts have said in the past 24-72 hours:

"By offering to buy the Phoenix Coyotes for $140 million in the hope of then flipping it to a buyer of its choice, however, the North American sports league risks hemorrhaging money and an antitrust lawsuit, sports bankers and analysts said.

" 'It's a way to prevent the court's becoming the de facto new commissioner of the NHL,' said Roger Noll, a professor of economics at Stanford University."

" ... Several sports bankers also expect Balsillie to sue the NHL on antitrust grounds, arguing the league is preventing a team in Hamilton for no valid reason.

"In the end, a settlement with Balsillie remains the best option, said Mark Conrad, who teaches sports law at Fordham University's School of Business.

" 'Stranger things have happened,' Conrad said. 'If you want to replicate Middle East peace talks you may have that possibility happen.' "

It is not as if the Toronto Maple Leafs and NHL had no inkling this might be coming. As noted in June, "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." It might go double if MLSEL believes it could act unilaterally to restrict competition. (Actually, in antitrust ruling, it goes triple if the court finds for the plaintiff.)

(You have no idea how long the wait has been to bust out that Rachael Leigh Cook reference.)

1 comment:

Bill said...

They obviously need some help down there: How about these Top Ten Ways to get a resolution to the Phoenix Coyotes Bankruptcy Case: