584-balsillie

What would happen if Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, pictured, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman decided sort the Phoenix Coyotes mess out by telephone? ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

Inspired by Phoenix bankruptcy judge Redfield T. Baum's call to find a mediated solution to the Coyotes' mess, we wondered what might happen if Gary Bettman and Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie decided to take the hint and try to sort this out by telephone.

(Ring)

Gary: Hello? This is Gary Bettman, commissioner of the National Hockey League, and the man unequivocally in charge.

Jim: Hello, Gary. It's Jim Balsillie.

Gary: Hello, Mr. Bal-Silly. How are you today?

Jim: Fine, Gary, but it's Ball-silee, the accent is on the first syllable.

Gary: Oh, Balls-illy. Well, that makes some sense, doesn't it? Don't you think so, Bill?

Bill: Yes, sir!

Jim: Bill Daly's on the line?

Gary: Oh, yes. Bill's my right-hand man. Wherever I go, Bill goes too. Am I right Bill?

Bill: Yes, sir!

Gary: So, how can I help you, Mr. Balls-illy?

Jim: (Sigh). Call me Jim, Gary, how about that?

Gary: Fine, fine. Oh, by the way, thank you for that Raspberry you sent me from Phoenix last month.

Jim: It's called a Blackberry, Gary. We make them here at RIM, in Kitchener-Waterloo.

Gary: Kitchener? Never heard of it. Well, anyway, I love it! All these buttons to push. I love pushing all the buttons, don't I Bill?

Bill: Yes, sir!

Gary: This is the third one, too. You sent me a Raspberry from Pittsburgh and another one from Nashville, and now this.

Jim: Well, I'm glad you like them Gary. Can we get down to business?

Gary: Absolutely. What would you like to talk about?

Jim: Phoenix.

Gary: Phoenix! I love Phoenix! We're doing well in Phoenix! Our numbers are almost incredibly strong there.

Jim: Gary, the team's bankrupt.

Gary: No, no. That's what Jerry Moyes said. And he was wrong. That's a fine market. Big TV audience there. NBC is very impressed by that.

Jim: But Gary, you're drawing 8,000 homes a game on some of the Coyotes telecasts.

Gary: And it's growing, up 100 per cent!

Jim: And you told the judge you're going to keep them in bankruptcy if he says the NHL is in charge.

Gary: I said that? Did I say that, Bill?

Bill: Yes, sir!

Gary: Well … quite frankly that's different from Jerry Moyes saying it. We have to look after the footprint …

Jim: I don't quite follow …

Gary: And frankly, down the road we may have to move the franchise but we haven't discussed any list. And we're not looking at moving the franchise. That's unequivocal.

Jim: Umm … well, that's what I wanted to discuss with you. Moving it.

Gary: Moving it?

Jim: Yes. The purpose of my offer is for southern Ontario. We think it's the biggest, unserved market for pro hockey in the world.

Gary: Kansas City? Oh, yes. I love Kansas City. Good location.

Jim: No, Gary. Hamilton.

Gary: Yes. Kansas City. Everything's up to date there, I'm told. You'll love it there. Fit right in. Oh … I made a good joke. Wasn't that a good joke, Bill? Everything's up to date there?

Bill: Yes, sir!

Jim: We're talking about Hamilton here, Gary. I'm willing to pay $212.5 million. That's U.S. dollars.

Gary: U.S. dollars? Oh, yes. We can talk U.S. dollars. Quite frankly, I can put you into Kansas City …

Jim: Hamilton …

Gary: Yes, Kansas City, for a reasonable franchise fee.

Jim: And what's that?

Gary: $400 million. In U.S. dollars.

(Pause)

Gary: Mr. Ball-silly? Are you there?

Jim: I think I'm being had.

Gary: Well, if in fact, and the fact is, that it is what it is.

Jim: You know, Gary. I think I may have to send you another Raspberry.

Gary: But you've already sent me one from Phoenix.

Jim: Oh, but you don't have one from this place.

Gary: Where's that?

Jim: Atlanta.

(Click)