Balsillie ‘one step closer’

Jim Balsillie says he’s “one step closer” to bringing the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton even though the Canadian billionaire may have to pay the NHL a hefty relocation fee to do it.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly answers questions as he leaves U.S. Bankruptcy Court after a hearing on Tuesday.

TORONTO — Jim Balsillie says he’s “one step closer” to bringing the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton even though the Canadian billionaire may have to pay the NHL a hefty relocation fee to do it.

Balsillie made the statement on his website Wednesday, a day after a hearing in U.S. bankruptcy court on his bid to buy the Coyotes and move them over the objections of the NHL.

On Tuesday, Judge Redfield T. Baum said he believes the NHL has the right to request a relocation fee — which could amount to US$100 million or more — and suggested he might force the league to establish a price by granting the motion to relocate the Coyotes in order to settle the bitter standoff.

Baum is considering the matter and plans to issue a ruling in the near future.

Balsillie has offered US$212.5 million to purchase the Coyotes, conditional on a move to Hamilton and closing by month’s end. However, Balsillie’s lawyer, Susan Freeman, said her client would walk away if the relocation fee was too exorbitant.

On Wednesday, Balsillie seemed to leave the door open.

“However it works out, the issue of a relocation fee, while a new development, does move us one step closer to bringing the Coyotes to Hamilton,” the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion said on www.makeitseven.ca. “I am fighting for Canadian hockey fans because I know you’ve been out there fighting for my bid.”

Balsillie also assured fans who have supported his cause that he is still moving toward his goal.

“We’re looking forward to instructions from Judge Baum,” he said. “But you should know as a makeitseven.ca supporter that I am committed to continuing and winning this fight to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada.”

His campaign has been aggressive so far. He’s already unveiled plans to renovate Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum should the Coyotes come to town and he has recruited corporate partners in his cause, with Prime Restaurants, DeWalt Tools and FirstOntario Credit Union the latest to sign on, joining Labatt Blue and Home Hardware .

On Wednesday, the Balsillie camp declared June 19 “Make It Seven Day” across Canada, encouraging fans to rally support for the cause that day.

Should Balsillie walk away from a third attempt to buy an NHL team, the other thorny legal issues before Baum would not need to be solved since if not paid by the buyer, the relocation fee would leave too little money for the creditors. And under that scenario, it appears the NHL would get its wish for a Sept. 10 auction of the club, with at least one more Coyotes season in Phoenix.

Freeman said she expects the NHL to demand $100 million as a relocation fee — a number the league hasn’t confirmed and that was blacked out in court documents — and deputy commissioner Bill Daly refused to speculate Tuesday on how much would be enough.

“I don’t think we are prepared to put out a number,” Daly told reporters. “That’s something that is generally determined by the board of governors in the context of a relocation application and from our perspective, we have a couple of steps before we get to a relocation application.”

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The Red Deer College Queens hosted the Olds College Broncos at the… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read