Thanks again to Patrick Romanoski for providing this article.
I don’t think Gabe Macaluso would mind me printing this article in full here, as the more exposure this gets the better.
As a recap, the issue is proof that a veto right exists for MLSE and the Buffalo Sabres.
Well, Gabe tells it like it is from his vast experience. We certainly hope the Balsillie legal team can use this to have an impact on the Phoenix Coyotes court case.
Here is the letter:
Dear Mr. Walker,
As the former CEO of Copps (HECFI) 1989-2005, I have been following Mr Balsillie’s bid with the outmost of interest and wish him nothing but success. I know first hand, having been involved with several past attempts to land a relocation/expansion team for Hamilton, that Toronto always reared its ugly head with threats of a veto. Here are some examples:
1) Met with Cliff Fletcher, who was with the Calgary Flames, at the Omni Hotel in Detroit. Present with me was Jerry Patterson. Cliff told us straight out that it was going to be a huge uphill battle for Hamilton to obtain an expansion franchise as the Toronto Maple Leafs had a “Veto” vote.
2) Met with Barry Shenkarow, owner of Winnipeg Jets, at his office in Winnipeg. Present with me were the Mayor and Harrah’s Casino’s potential buyer of the Jets. Mr Shenkarow was forthright in his statement to us. He said that he would be wasting his time dealing with selling the team to Hamilton’s prospective owner because the Leafs had made it very clear to him that they would use their veto against any attempt to sell the team to a potential Hamilton owner. Although our prospective owner had a check in amount of $75,000,000 on his person and in fact showed it to Mr Shenkarow. Mr Shenkarow reacted angrily and stated that the dollar amount was not the issue, Toronto’s NHL constitutional right of a veto, was.
3) Met with Marcel Aubut, who was the owner of the Quebec Nordiques in Quebec City at the Colisee. Present with me was Jerry Patterson and Frank DeNardis. Mr Aubut made it clear to us that he could not accept the offer of $75,000,000 from Harrah’s Casino, for the purchase of the Nordiques(although he stated he wanted to badly) because the NHL had their hands tied due to Toronto’s insistence that they would exercise their veto vote.
4) Met with Peter Pocklington in Hamilton and Edmonton and was informed and also given a copy of the NHL constitution and pointed out the article dealing with the veto power a team had with regards to a team locating within their 50 mile territory. Mr Pocklington was adamant that he could challenge the Leafs and the NHL via a complaint to the Competition Bureau and win. I met with his lawyers (Cassels Brock) who were preparing the paper work for the Competition Bureau. Mr Montemurro,a former lawyer with the Competition Bureau, was handling Mr Pocklington’s case. Pocklington was prepared to emulate the Al Davis LA Rams move. Unfortunately the City of Edmonton decided to sweeten the lease agreement with the Oilers and subsequently remained there. As a result of this situation, I was informed by Peter on a visit to Edmonton as a guest of his at a Pavarotti concert, that the NHL removed the clause dealing with a veto and substituted it with a majority vote clause. He showed the amended article to me.
5) Invited to meet with Seymour Knox(senior 2nd) in his office at the old Buffalo Auditorium three weeks after Ron Joyce’s bid was rejected. Present with me was the Mayor.He was quite irate and angry with us regarding trying to get a team in Hamilton. He said he had a lot of money invested in the Sabers and was not about to let anyone in his 50 mile protected territory. I advised him that Hamilton was over the 50 mile radius to Buffalo and that there was no veto provisions for him in the NHL constitution. He said I was wrong and that his measurement was related to “how the crow flies) and not by land. He said that having a team in Hamilton would hurt both Buffalo & Toronto and that both had the veto power to exclude us at any time. He suggested that a team would never come and swore “over his dead body”. He told us to be happy with an AHL team and stop whining as we were not a primary market but a secondary one. He also stated that we should have never built Copps Coliseum….it was a stupid government decision.
I stand behind the aforementioned 100% and am prepared to sign an affidavit if it will help Mr Balsillie. Please note that the Mayor involved with me at some of the above mentioned meetings was Bob Morrow. He is now a Citizenship Judge in our Region. Imagine getting an affidavit from a Judge and submitting it to Judge Baum.
All the best
Should we bother to question why Toronto and Buffalo were abstainers from the ‘character’ assasination otherwise known as the ownership vote of Jim Balsillie?
As I said before, is there an authority that can police this league before the farce gets too out of control?
Justice must be served. The sooner the better.