CHICAGO – National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman issued the following statement following today’s Board of Governors meeting:
“The National Hockey League’s Board of Governors met this afternoon to review the ownership applications of three prospective ownership groups for the Phoenix Coyotes. The Board’s process today represents the League’s best efforts to comply with the League’s review procedures pursuant to NHL Constitution Article 3.5 and NHL By-Law 35 within the timetable imposed by the ongoing court process.
“There were three applicant groups that were interviewed by the Executive Committee and considered by the Board. One was Jim Balsillie’s. The second was a group headed by Anthony LeBlanc, involving Mr. LeBlanc, Keith McCullough, Todd Jordan and Daryl Jones. And the third group, headed by Jerry Reinsdorf, included as well Tony Tavares and John Kaites.
“After interviewing all of the applications, the Executive Committee brought forward recommendations to the full Board of Governors.
“Mr. Reinsdorf’s application was unanimously approved by all those Board members present and voting, subject to the League’s completion of its due diligence and review of the final transaction. In Mr. Balsillie’s case, it was the unanimous vote of all members present and voting that his application not be approved. With respect to the LeBlanc group, it was determined that, at this stage, since they’ve only recently begun the process, the application was incomplete and could not yet be acted on by the Board. However, the Executive Committee reported favorably on the LeBlanc group’s interview and endorsed the group’s continued efforts to complete a bid to purchase the franchise.
“We will so advise the Bankruptcy Court and we will move this process forward.”
So.....The Reinsdorf Group is cleared to bid in the auction knowing that they will be approved by the league. The Balsillie's have no real leverage because no matter how good their bid is they have been unanimously denied membership in the NHL lodge. And the Ice Edge group has another 10 days to come up with a lot of money and a plan to put in front of Judge Tom next Friday.
Updates 4:55PM: "All that was considered was the suitability of owners", according to NHL Comissioner Gary Bettman. "This has nothing to do with the relocation issues", Bettman continued. So let's be very clear -- the NHL has rejected Jim Balsillie as a potential owner. While he was approved by the NHL five years ago as the perspective owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins the league Governors have now voted against him. Amazing what backing out of a purchase deal in Pittsburgh and trying to circumvent league rules can do for one's standing. Even though the Balsillie group is trying to put a positive spin on this, facts are facts. Jim Balsillie will not be approved as an owner in the National Hockey League. There may be more motions but the fact is that Judge Tom made it very clear that NHL owners had the right to approve perspective owners. It also means his bid to take over the Coyotes is worthless.