Millions of reasons why the Leafs don't want Hamilton in the NHL club
BlackBerry gazillionaire Jim Balsillie was on the FAN 590's Prime Time Sports Wednesday, an interview that was more revealing than you'd expect.
First, host Bob McCown finally asked the question that's been haunting media types for months: How DO you pronounce Balsillie? According to the man himself, it's BALL-sillie. Not Bal-SILLIE. We'll take his word for it.
Second, Balsillie sounded like he'd scored a major victory in that Phoenix courtroom, which showed that he's either seriously deluded or knows something we don't.
Third, McCown told Balsillie that he'd heard Leaf honcho Larry Tanenbaum had told a third party that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment would never agree to another team in this area. Since MLSE isn't talking on this issue, we'll never know if this is just gossip or fact. Balsillie said pretty much the same thing in his response, by the way.
Gossip or no, the Leafs have about 20 million reasons to object. That's what they'd stand to lose every year in television money if another team invaded their territory.
For example, Rogers Sportsnet pays about $15 million for the rights to 28 games in the Leafs region, which covers all of Ontario west of Belleville (approximately.) The NHL would have to give a new team its own region, which could cut the potential Leafs audience by as much as 50 per cent depending on what territory the Hamilton Coyotes were given. That would severely reduce the value of those rights.
The Leafs would then have to share a piece of the national pie on CBC and TSN broadcasts. Sources say the total reduction in TV rights could be as much as $15 million a year. One would not expect MLSE to accept that, unless Balsillie is willing to cough up that and probably a lot more. And that's just to cover potential losses on TV revenues.
That's a lot of BlackBerry sales.
On the topic of sports talk, The Bill Watters Show on Toronto 640 plans to have Larry King on Friday afternoon, which made at least one media critic wonder what King's connection was to sports. In fact, King used to do the pre and post-game shows for the Washington Capitals a couple of decades ago.
We're not sure if he did them wearing suspenders.