TORONTO — Jim Balsillie expanded his own personal NHL power play Friday, announcing a pair of corporate sponsors were on board for his bid to bring the Phoenix Coyotes to southern Ontario.
The BlackBerry boss unveiled his expanded www.makeitseven.ca website, bringing Labatt Breweries and Home Hardware into the fold as his first two “anchor corporate partners.”
“What began as a grassroots movement to support bringing a seventh NHL club to Canada is now attaining critical mass, with these two iconic Canadian brands proudly joining the effort,” Balsillie said in a statement.
Balsillie says more than 120,000 Canadians have logged onto his site to show their support for his bid to bring a seventh NHL franchise to Canada.
The co-CEO of Research In Motion has made a US$212.5-million bid for the financially ailing Phoenix Coyotes, an offer conditional on moving the franchise to southern Ontario.
A Phoenix bankruptcy judge will hear arguments Tuesday over who is currently in control of the Coyotes — majority owner Jerry Moyes, who favours the Balsillie bid, or the league, which argues Moyes signed over control to the NHL in exchange for money advanced to the franchise.
Outside the court, Balsillie now has a couple of corporate heavyweights on his side.
“Labatt has a long history of supporting grassroots hockey in Canada,” Charlie Angelakos, vice-president of corporate affairs for Labatt Breweries of Canada, said in a statement issued by the Balsillie group.
“Like many Canadians, we love NHL hockey and we want more of it here. Let’s get behind Make it Seven and let’s make it happen.”
“A new franchise will be a source of pride for all Canadians and we are excited by the possibility of creating more opportunities for Canada’s best players to play on their home ice, in front of hometown fans,” added Paul Straus, vice-president and CEO of Home Hardware Stores.
The website also features Make it Seven clothing for sale, with net proceeds donated to minor hockey programs.