...because...well, just because. You've been around here long enough. Don't show your ignorance.
· One of the biggest stories from late last week/over the weekend involved Jim Balsillie's decision to pull his bid to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins off the table. Here's the most interesting part:
Representatives for both Balsillie and the NHL refused to comment on Balsillie's withdrawal, but sources tell TSN the deal started to fall apart a week ago today, when the $175 million transaction was supposed to officially close.
Sources say the NHL introduced a lengthy list of terms and conditions on the closing day that Balsillie would have to agree to if he were going to be approved as the new owner of the team. The sources added that those conditions included keeping the franchise in Pittsburgh under any circumstances and also provided for a scenario where the league could take control the franchise if it deemed it necessary.
Now, was it just me, or did it seem as if Balsillie had his eye on moving the Penguins franchise right from the get-go? Whether any city in question would be feasible or appropriate is not the issue. How can Gary Bettman not have seen, let alone sensed this? I realize there was only one legitimate bid on the table, but why not wait until gaming licenses are awarded this week before taking any offers seriously? (If there was a reason for this timetable that someone is aware of, please fill us in.)
Can you really blame Balsillie for wanting to move the franchise? During the week of the NHL meetings in early December, the Penguins drew an embarrassing 12,511 for a home game vs. Florida. And on the night where Crosby scored his eye-popping six points against the Flyers, only 14,150 fans bothered to appear.
Keep in mind these numbers are coming from the NHL, so they're liable to be on the generous side.
That's some showing for the so-called best player in the league.
The Penguins possess the building blocks to ice an entertaining and highly capable franchise, and if they continue to draft effectively, it's only a matter of time before they are able to legitimately compete in the playoffs. However, time seems to be running out on the idea of keeping the team in Pittsburgh. Would a new arena permanently solve the attendance issues, when the usual refrain from a dying franchise mainly revolves around a poor team, and not a poor building?
Some so-called members of the Pittsburgh media have reacted to Balsillie's decision with tasteless and juvenile remarks. But unless Bettman is blind, he should have been able to see that Balsillie wasn't interested in losing money in an indifferent city. If Isle of Capri is not awarded a gaming license, then it's time to seriously consider the idea of moving the team elsewhere.
Does relocation look good to those who choose to criticize the NHL? Of course not -- it's fodder for the cynical masses who are waiting for the NHL to falter. But right now, doesn't it look worse to have a plethora of empty seats in a building that houses one of the faces of the NHL?
But fear not, Penguins fans -- Frank D'Angelo will save you. Hopefully they'll enjoy becoming a cheap marketing ploy while viewing commercials featuring Ben Johnson, ad nauseam. It's exactly what the league needs right now.
Update: Mario Lemieux offers his two cents regarding the Balsillie pullout, via violin solo.
Meanwhile, thank goodness for the simulcast of Prime Time Sports on Rogers Sportsnet. Today's show blatantly displayed Bob McCown shaking his head in disbelief as potential Penguins buyer Frank D'Angelo attempted to justify his capability as an NHL owner.
· And finally, here's your blind item of the week: The Coyotes have their eye on a goaltender who's been achieving success as of late, and comes highly recommended by Phoenix goaltending coach, Grant Fuhr. But the Eastern Conference team whom possesses said backstopper, doesn't hold a lot of stock in some of their other 'tenders who are prone to injury. They're not giving him up, in spite of growing interest -- they might need him to bail them out down the stretch.