Eugene Melnyk Takes on Balsillie

It can’t be said that the National Hockey League owners haven’t been trying to impress the courts with a show of solidarity against Research-In-Motion’s Jim Balsillie and his bid on the Phoenix Coyotes franchise.

The latest to step up to the plate against Balsillie is Eugene Melnyk, the owner of the Ottawa Senators.

Melnyk released a lengthy statement Thursday that detailed his feelings with respect to Balsillie. He opposed the application to purchase the Coyotes and generally opposed Balsillie as a person, too. “I clearly believe the sport of hockey is better off without him,” Melnyk said in the statement.

The Melnyk blast came as the result of comments Balsillie made in regards to Melnyk and other owners. With his bid rejected by the Board of Governors on the grounds of “character” and “integrity,” Balsillie fired back mentioning other owners, including Melnyk, and an apparent lack of character. The move certainly didn’t (and shouldn’t) sit well, but it’s understandable that Balsillie would feel as though he were being ganged up on by the owners of the NHL.

“I will say in response publicly that his willingness to drag down anyone he can get his hands on along with him is discouraging and saddens me,” said Melnyk.

According to TSN, “Melnyk acknowledges in his statement that he’s paid fines to the Ontario Securities Commission for ‘administrative oversights’ but notes that it was a far cry from the sanctions that have been levied against Balsillie and his company RIM.”

Both men have had well-documented brushes with the Ontario Securities Commission, with Melnyk brought before a panel in June over charges of misleading investors and Balsillie settling allegations that he and his group had participated in the back-dating of stock options.

It’s hard to argue in favour of any particular National Hockey League owner on the basis of character or integrity, but this seems to be about more than that and is getting rapidly personal. Balsillie, through his actions, isn’t endearing himself to any owner in the NHL and will certainly have problems getting what he wants. He may be shooting himself in the foot here, which is unfortunate for hockey fans in Hamilton.

Posted by Jordan Richardson.

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5 thoughts on “Eugene Melnyk Takes on Balsillie

  1. Since when has hockey had wonderful owners who cared about hockey
    yes there are some
    I can name a few who didn’t or should I say still don’t
    only thing they care about is th green, not the city and it’s people
    The Owner of the Islanders, Harold Ballard, the old owner of the Black Hawks ( can’t think of his name)
    The owners of the Pheonix Coyotes, Peter Pocklington, Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment,
    and many more
    But I think if JImmy ever got the team ( most likely he wont ) he would make all efforts to make the city of Hamilton proud.


  2. I agree that Balsillie would be good for hockey, but I also think he’d be REALLY good for business in the NHL. For Bettman and his goons to turn their backs on the co-CEO of one of Canada’s biggest and fastest-growing corporations is just flat-out stupid. Think of the marketing opportunities that could grow between BlackBerry and the NHL with the co-CEO of RIM owning a franchise in Canada. It would be huge for the game and huge for growing the game.


  3. How can the league finally get someone else besides Bettman to be in charge
    If everyone is upset with him how come this hasn’t happened
    Is it the owners who make Bettman the guy?
    I Know He got the salary cap to become a part of hockey
    But tell me,Who is it?

    I wish someone could fix it, Restore the game that is so involved with dirty politics
    I think the last time I remember hockey being in such a mess was the travesty involving the players vs Alan Eagleson
    He was a scoundral
    Finally he was exposed and dealt with, Bettman and some of his actions have been obvious for quite some time.
    Eagleson stole from the players, Bettman is stealing from the fans
    How about impeachment?
    Kind of radical but could be necessary, nevertheless
    Bring the game back to the fans
    Do what ever it takes.
    I am curious to see what the nhl would be like without these guys who don’t even understand the game of hockey


  4. I think the owners would have to have Bettman removed, yeah, although I’m not sure on the particulars. It would probably have to go before the Board of Governors, but I’m not sure they’d do anything either. The Board seems to think that they’re above the law and above everyone else, including the interest of the fans, so I wouldn’t count on anything happening from them.

    It’s the business of hockey that put Bettman in charge in the first place and he is representing the interests of the owners and corporations to an extent, but he’s also making a bunch of moves that make no sense from either standpoint. He was originally brought in on the basis of “growing the game in the United States,” so it stands to reason that he’d want to keep the team in Phoenix. I think that mandate has to go and he needs to concentrate on growing the game…period. If that means going to Canada, then go to Canada with one or two more teams.

    He’s so stuck on this idea of a 30 team league with multiple U.S. markets that it’s crippling the chance for other teams to grow and blossom in their own markets. He plays protectionist politics too, which is never good in terms of growing a business. Bettman’s also not been the best at getting bigger sponsors (ie. BlackBerry) and his use of technology to market the game is archaic in comparison to other major sports leagues.

    So yeah…I agree with you entirely.


  5. Here’s an interesting article from 1993 about Bettman that somewhat explains why he was put in charge and by whom:


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