Legal liability as an individual and a company: Where will Bettman be then?

For the bullet summary, please go here.

There are proposed changes to the Competition Act that are compelling. The reason must be based on problems and issues with the current system.

The question is, ‘How far are you willing to go as Board of Governors to back up the whims of the Commissioner? Who would be the ones to ‘go down’?


Is the NHL being ‘petty’, or is this more about Peddie?

Richard Peddie: 'For' or 'against' Jim Balsillie?

Richard Peddie: 'For' or 'against' Jim Balsillie?

 Richard Peddie and the MLSE that is!

In the “Butterfly Effect” series of movies, the character can go back in time and try to alter the past. Well, given the chance now, would Peddie have intercepted the sending of the 2006 letter to Gary Bettman that the lawyer representing MLSE sent? At the very least, the lawyer could have checked the spelling of Mr. ‘Betteman’s name’. That must have been more annoying than the letter’s content. Ironically, little research or care in it’s preparation then, which may result in plenty of clockable legal hours now. Funny how that works, eh?

Translation of letter: If the MLSE doesn’t want a team in ‘our turf’, then too bad if all other teams do. Problem: Legal liability imposed by a member of the Board of Governors hanging the other members out to ‘legal’ dry.

In early August the issue of depositioning Peddie came into play:

However, the league wants Judge Redfield T. Baum to reject the proposed deposition of Toronto Maple Leafs owner Richard Peddie.

Attorneys for Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie want to question Peddie over what role the Maple Leafs might play in the proposed relocation of the Coyotes to Hamilton, Ontario. The league contends the relocation issue is moot because the NHL Board of Governors has overwhelmingly rejected Balsillie as an owner.


And, wouldn’t the NHL love to keep the deposition of Peddie a ‘moot’ point, and not have it rear it’s ugly head again. Can Peddie count on this the longer this case takes? Is he a gambling man? How does he like the ‘outside world’?

And, as reported by Globe Sports:

The NHL’s objection, filed with the court yesterday, stated the Maple Leafs abstained from the NHL governors’ unanimous vote on July 29 that rejected Balsillie as an owner. Presumably yesterday’s objection was made to counter Balsillie’s charge that the Leafs are playing a leading role in blocking the move of a team into their territory.

Peddie could not be reached for comment last night.


I’m sure he will be unavailable for quite some time too. But, he can’t stay N/A forever!


Well, if I were the Toronto Maple Leafs or the Ottawa Senators, I would be wondering the consequences of backing up the league on the issue related to anti-trust and monopoly powers.

 There are laws, and the laws are getting more stringent.

In March 2009, according to Mondaq:

The Government is proposing a long-debated reform to the cornerstone criminal conspiracy section by removing the requirement to show that an agreement among competitors would lessen or prevent competition unduly. Under the new provision, which will make such agreements “per se” illegal, competitors who agree, conspire or arrange among themselves to fix, maintain, increase or control prices or fix, maintain, control, prevent, lessen or eliminate supply of a product or allocate sales, territories, customers or markets for the production or supply of a product, are guilty of a criminal offence. Penalties will be increased to a maximum of $25 million for each count and up to 14 years of imprisonment. A new defence has been created where the agreement is ancillary to a broader agreement and is reasonably necessary to give effect to the broader agreement, provided that the broader agreement when considered alone would not contravene the criminal conspiracy provision. In addition, the common law principles that relate to a defence for regulated conduct will continue to apply to the new provision.

Criminal conspiracy! Criminal conspiracy! Did you hear that? Criminal conspiracy?

Not just collusion as we saw in Phoenix. No, this time we are talking about perhaps more serious consequences including up to 14 years behind bars. Who would be with you in that ‘pen’?

Well, commissioner Gary Bettman is an employee of the NHL. He is hired by the Board of

Will Gary Bettman be responsible for "Conspiracy to avoid Competition" charges and the potential jail term that goes with it? Should the Board of Governors be following the lead of 'the man obsessed?'

Will Gary Bettman be responsible for "Conspiracy to avoid Competition" charges and the potential jail term that goes with it? Should the Board of Governors be following the lead of 'the man obsessed?'

Governors. Ultimately, the Board of Governors and the individual members that make it up are individually and collectively responsible for the operations and the liability of the league as a whole. Not Gary Bettman.

Repeat: Not Gary Bettman. No, you’d be on your own!

This must be made clear to the members of the Board of Governors who want to ‘listen’ and ‘agree’ with the commissioner. He won’t be the one serving time for you if that is the case.

How far will you go, if you are a member of the BOG in this man’s NHL? Will you be willing to undergo examinations in court? Will you be willing to admit things you did not want to admit? Will you be willing to stand up, under oath, and testify that the reason you may have agreed to something is because, and largely due to the fact that ‘all the others were doing it, and I thought I should too’. Is that what it boils down to? Are you listening to an employee exercising his influence to the detriment of your own safety? Good questions BOG members. Better start checking with your lawyers. Good lawyers that is.

Because, here’s the deal.

If you are Eugene Melnyk in Ottawa, and Richard Peddie in Toronto, you and your operations in Canada are subject to the Canadian Competition Act.

Knowing what you know of Balsillie’s persistence, what do you figure the ‘odds’ are that will become a reality, especially if the NHL will drag this out legally for the reported years to come?

As the heads of your organizations, you can now be likely found guilty of a criminal offense to knowingly conspire to keep a competitor out of a territory. That competitor in this case may be Jim Balsillie. Mr. Bettman is an American running an American company, but in Canada, having teams here? A little different.

Is it a good idea to follow a man obsessed?

You may be subject to criminal prosecution for conspiring as two teams, even though you represent a broader league as a whole.

The members representing other teams are not the issue. In this case, the two teams in Ontario (Ottawa and Toronto) are the Canadian issue.

Do you think as companies running in Ontario, you will be able to continue to defer obligation to Gary Bettman, as has been done to date related to issues of article 4.3 of the NHL Constitution? Are you banking on that?

Do you as BOG members in the NHL, but owners of Ontario companies think that you will be immune to the laws of Ontario companies? You had better hope so, but how far are you willing to go?

According to the Hamilton Spectator of August 29th, a very interesting truth became known:

“After repeatedly telling this court that such unlawful veto rights do not exist, both Mr. Bettman and Mr. Daly were forced to admit at their depositions that the Article of the NHL Constitution providing for this veto (Article 4.3) has never been amended in an unanimous writing (as required by the explicit terms of Article 12 of the NHL Constitution) and that the Toronto ownership group has expressly ‘reserved its rights’ and to whether its unlawful veto remains in effect.”

But this week Daly advised the Spectator via e-mail that the board of governors has the final say on the NHL coming to Hamilton.

“Nothing to do with Toronto, or the alleged “veto” right.

OK, so let’s get this straight. We had Mr. Peddie and Mr. Melnyk involved likely in the article 12 ammendment that says article 4.3 must be removed. But, the article 4.3 was never actually removed by some fluke?

Now, we have the MLSE ready to stand by the ammendment (4.3), and take advantage of the fact that it still appears in the constitution, even though both companies (Leafs and Senators) agreed to it’s removal?

Oh, that’s of incredible character, don’t ya think?

And, the Teacher’s Pension Fund owns now 66% of MLSE. What is that supposed to teach the kids? Cheat when you can, and if the teacher gives you a bad mark, but it gets written in the records as a good mark, don’t do the right thing and tell her. Just take advantage of the misfortune. The teachers on Ontario would go along with this? Maybe we should have a referendum on that issue, and have it debated in classrooms everywhere. Good, let’s mark that down for the future, shall we?

OK, so Mr. Peddie wants to ensure the 4.3 that was supposed to be removed but wasn’t should be upheld, and MLSE would sue whoever tried to violate it, including the league it is part of, despite having agreed to it’s removal. For the record? OK.

Well, take a close look at who told us about the fact that it is still there. It wasn’t Mr. Peddie or Mr. Melnyk, it was Mr. Bettman and Mr. Daly, under deposition.

If I was a betting man, which I am not (sorry Eugene and Jeremy), I would guess that the Balsillie camp has got a checklist of strategy. And, once those depositions were obtained from Daly and Bettman, a little check was applied.

The information will surface again, don’t worry.

But, if I were Mr. Melnyk and Mr. Peddie I would be a little worried. Because unlike Mr. Bettman and Mr. Daly, you run corporations in Ontario subject to that nasty Competition Laws Canada has. Nasty stuff, and getting a whole lot nastier.

And, Mr. Peddie and Mr. Melnyk are directors and high ranking officials directly responsible to the laws of Canada. Lots of liablility. Mr. Daly and Mr. Bettman? Not so much.

That 26-0 vote is going to rear it’s ugly head as this goes on, don’t kid yourselves.

So, the bottom line is, if the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leaf brass are ‘listening’ to Mr. Bettman, don’t expect him to serve the penalty that might be coming your way. You know, the whole ‘together we stand, divided we fall’ thing? That’s right, you will be on your own.

You might get a ‘sorry’ from Bettman and Daly on the ‘we thought the vote would do it’ thing. But that won’t be good enough.

Again, if I were a betting man, I might be inclined to think that the vacation of Richard Peddie, and his conveniently missed attendance in the  26-0 vote was more planned than would seem apparent.

And, the fact that the NHL protected Peddie from being deposed earlier in the procedings may have been to avoid another ‘checkmark’ in the course of legal  ‘to do’ s of the Balsillie legal team.

But,don’t worry Mr. Peddie, they will get you to answer the ‘for or against’ question soon enough.

If I was a betting man, I’d bet on that!

Conspiracy to stop competition? A criminal offense, eh? Sounds a little risky. Especially for those so sensitive about their reputations.

The Ontario hockey market is looking a whole lot smaller, isn't it Mr. Melnyk?

The Ontario hockey market is looking a whole lot smaller, isn't it Mr. Melnyk?

Mr. Melnyk, how would you like a criminal record on your ‘character’ resume? Didn’t think so.

How far should you be willing to go as a person to follow the crowd?

 Or, how much should you listen to an employee telling you what to think and how to think it?


3 responses to “Legal liability as an individual and a company: Where will Bettman be then?

  1. Pingback: Are we onto ‘Something’? Time for the ‘Real Truth’! « Make It Eight, eh? Hockey again for Winnipeg!

  2. “No comment” from MLSE, unlike Melnyk’s personal & public rebuttal & condemnation of Jim Balsillie, is A-Typical of the organizations politically correct spin. Suits at the ACC wouldnt say &%#@ if their mouth’s were full of it. That being said, I really dont think MLSE opposes a team in Hamilton & would actually embrace it, as above all else, it would immediately engender a terrific rivalry which in turn engenders a great deal more in revenues. Same for the Sabres, Sens & Habs, and to a lesser extent the teams in the west. Secondly, even under oath in a deposition I dont think you’d find Peddie subscribing to the non-deleted territorial rights statute in the NHL’s Constitution for not only the obvious legal but also for the very obvious PR reasons. The duplicity & treachery of course is that privately, in hushed & whispered tones, MLSE, the Sabres & roughly 8-12 seriously hurting teams are hoping to extract extortionist/usury fee’s for the rights to another franchise in Southern Ontario to the tune of $400-$600 million.

  3. Pingback: Leafs Remain Biggest Obstacle to Balsillie Bid | Directory of Hamilton

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