Saturday, 21 July 2007

The Bettman/Basille Saga Continues

No surprise regarding the revelations that NHL commissioner Gary Bettmann likely tried to dissuade the owner of the Nashville Predators from selling his team to Canadian billionaire Jim Basille.

There has to be something fundamentally wrong with the core principles of a league that turns away from almost guaranteed success. A failed franchise that has been a drag on the league and its revenue sharing plan over the past few years and an individual owner losing tens of millions of dollars every season. The alternative? The most rabid, hockey-mad region in the world dying to spend their combined billions of disposable income on a new team in the Hamilton area.

And what does the marketing genius in charge of the NHL feel is the best thing to do in such circumstances? Why, try to pressure all parties involved to remain in the place where financial failure has taken place or... sell to someone who will move the team to another relatively small market in the US where an NHL team already failed many years ago. The chap who offered to pay well over market value and move the team to a location where it will instantly be one of the most financially stable franchises in the league is being accused of being disrespectful?

Of course, it's slightly more complicated than that, with a certain franchise in the vicinity of Hamilton that has just entered its fifth decade without winning a Cup determined to maintain a stranglehold on losing in the region. Still, it comes down to choosing ensured success with an existing population of millions of fans or probable failure as you try to force hockey into a disinterested location. Enough people want this within the league and together with an already willing buyer and countless fans, there is no good reason this shouldn't happen. It seems a few individuals only need to be liberated of their bizarre and unrealistic fixations.

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