Saturday, June 7, 2008

Dope Tests For Owners

Cue Music:

Bad Boys Bad Boys What you going to do
When an NHL owner needs a bail bond or two?

Sometimes when we swear we are going to take a night off something, catches our eye that really can not be ignored. See our friend Dubi over the Blueshirt Bulletin normally does a better job at finding these kinds of stories but this one dropped into our lap.

We are always in favor of drug testing for players but after reading this, we think you will agree that the NHL also needs Dope Testing for potential owners. Not Dope as in drug testing but dope as in dumb criminal behavior as this started as just reading one story and then grew.

It started with a story on Yahoo about the co-owner of the Nashville Predators William “Boots” Del Biaggio III filing for bankruptcy which in today's world is no big deal. Then we read the story here about why he was filing bankruptcy and we could not help but start laughing.

Well gee golly whizzy an NHL owner accused of loan fraud or being investigated for criminal behavior, now there is something one does not see every day now do they? Sadly in the NHL they seem to do especially over the last couple of months.

We started laughing because we had this crazy idea to do the old "google" for "indicted NHL owners" which then led to this story by Rich Westhead of the which told about past NHL owners who got in trouble but also told us about still even more current NHL owners who are under investigation.

The current owner of the Ducks Henry Samueli is under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission for "backdating stock options". According to this report in the Los Angeles Times, Samueli stepped down as the chairman of Broadcom after the SEC filed their civil complaint.

The SEC filing seeks to have Samueli and his co-conspirators barred permanently from ever serving directors or officials of public traded companies. Sadly it does not say anything about owning a sports franchise.

The owner of the Ottawa Senators Eugene Melnyk had this nice complaint filed against him by the SEC on March 24th. The key point we saw in the SEC's allegations was that "And, when it ultimately became impossible to continue to conceal the Company's poor performance, Biovail actively misled investors and analysts as to its cause. This corrupt strategy was employed by Biovail's most senior officers: Eugene Melnyk, (and others).

For those who do not remember it was Melnyk who was the "savior" who rescued the Ottawa Senators from bankruptcy. Melnyk of course denies any wrongdoing and has not been either indicted or convicted of any crime as of this writing.

Yet there is enough evidence for the SEC to investigate him which alone hurts the image of both the NHL but more importantly NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. We really have to wonder if our friendly commissioner can find an owner who does not wind up indicted, investigated or forced to resign.

We have to go back to our new pal "Boots" who just last season was seen as part of the team that "saved" the Nashville Predators from being purchased by Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie and moved to Hamilton Ontario. Now the folks at the Preds and NHL front office can not wait to find a way to get him out as part of the ownership group.

Bill Brister over at the Daily Deke wrote this piece about yet another attempt by Jim Balsillie to purchase either a part or whole of an NHL team. We had wondered why Gary Bettman had such a dislike for Balsillie but now we figured out that if Balsillie ever wants to become an NHL owner then he needs to have a criminal investigation start to qualify.

We know that Gary Bettman has repeatedly and actively fought Balsillie's attempt to purchase an NHL team as Brister wrote in his piece. Bettman has shown himself to be a poor judge of character when it comes to supporting those wishing to own an NHL team.

Remember John Spanos? The first of many Bettman "favorites" to own a team, Spanos who was supposed to "save" the New York Islanders eventually spent time in jail for fraud. Nice job there Gary as Spanos is not the only Islander owner who face legal trouble as current co-owner Sanjay Kumar is under indictment as well.

We sense a trend here developing don't you as the same league that have given us great players has also given us some convicted owners like Bruce McNall of the Los Angeles Kings and the Rigas father and son team that ran the Buffalo Sabres until they too were sent to jail for corporate theft.

Is it now scary to realize that Ranger owner James Dolan is many things but at least we have not seen him appearing on either COPS or America's Most Wanted. We can see the message boards now "Our owners have more indictments than yours" but it really is a sad picture of the NHL.

The NHL claims that they have stringent standards for who is allowed to purchase a franchise. When you stop laughing at that statement we will try to move on.

Really the evidence says that those standards are a joke because we wonder when the NHL sits down with the NHLPA to work out the next Collective Bargaining Agreement, will they hold the talks at the NHL offices in Manhattan or at Sing Sing?

Gary Bettman has been never a favorite of ours as in our eyes the best way to improve the NHL starts by removing him as NHL Commissioner. He never been in our eyes a real hockey person and his era of errors has done more harm than good.

It would take us a week to list all the issues we have with Gary Bettman but Those issues are for another day but seriously how can one expect anyone to consider the NHL as a well run league with clouds hanging over the owners like these?

Bad Boys Bad Boys what are you going to do
When an NHL owner needs a bail bond or two?

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