Mystery Group Cancels Nhl Bid to bring team to Hamilton

Penguin fans don’t fret about a move to Hamilton because it will not be happening now.
Here is a article from a hamilton newspaper in canada

Article by by Andrew Dreschel
of the Hamilton Spectator

Hamilton’s thin NHL hopes just got skeletal.
The group that purchased exclusive rights to bring an NHL team to Copps Coliseum is terminating its agreement with the city.
The move comes just days after billionaire Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive officer of Research in Motion, makers of BlackBerry, signed an agreement to buy the struggling Pittsburgh Penguins.
Though Balsillie has previously denied it and more recently evaded the question, it’s widely believed he is also the money man behind the tight-lipped group that first sewed up leasing rights to Copps in 2004.

The group, called HHC Acquisition, paid the city $50,000 in July to extend those exclusivity rights for another six months.
The sudden cancellation of the agreement suggests Balsillie is trying to allay fears in Pittsburgh that he wants to move the Penguins, or he is no longer interested in Copps as either an option or a pawn in a larger game.
Yesterday Mayor Larry Di Ianni confirmed HHC is pulling the plug on the deal in a phone conversation with Toronto attorney Richard Rodier, who is acting on behalf of HHC and was believed to be involved in the negotiations for the Penguins.
Rodier could not be reached for comment.
Di Ianni called Rodier to follow up on correspondence the city’s legal department received from him early this week stating his client is no longer interested in maintaining or extending rights to Copps.

Under the terms of the leasing agreement, HHC could have bought another six month extension when the current one runs out in February for an additional $50,000.
Di Ianni says it looks, at least on the surface, as if the Penguins are staying put in Pittsburgh.
“We’ve always, at best, seen Hamilton as either a long shot or, more cynically, being used to leverage concessions elsewhere,” said Di Ianni.
“This confirms what I suspected all along. That is, Hamilton was never a serious contender for any NHL team with this group.”
Di Ianni says it’s not clear whether the city will retain all the $50,000 HHC paid in July.
That money was drawn from $200,000 HHC deposited in trust as a sign of good faith when it first negotiated rights to bring in an NHL team and manage and operate Copps in exchange for paying the city $2 million in annual rent.
Under that arrangement, the balance of the deposit was to be returned when the agreement expired.

Councillor Terry Whitehead, the city’s point man on the agreement with HHC, isn’t surprised the group is pulling out of the deal.
He suspects Balsillie wants to send the NHL governors a message that he is serious about staying in Pittsburgh and he isn’t worried about anyone else marching a team into Hamilton anytime soon.
“I’ve said this before: Pittsburgh is a great hockey town,” said Whitehead. “If it’s viable, Mr. Balsillie will leave it there.
“If it’s not viable … then it’s going to put Mr. Balsillie in the position of making a decision. That’s his decision to make and I just want to make sure that if he’s ever in the position, the City of Hamilton is the first of his considerations.”
If that sounds like Whitehead thinks the relocation door may still be open a crack, it should. Balsillie himself has far from slammed it shut.

Arguments for why an NHL team won’t fly here are legion, and they’ve been amply aired in the last week by hockey high priests from Hamilton to Hogtown — from prohibitive indemnification payments to Toronto and Buffalo to costly upgrades to Copps.
But whether or not Pittsburgh is viable will depend to a large extent on whether plans for a new arena there are brought to ground.
If they are not, all bets are off and we can start spreading thin meat on Hamilton’s bony hopes again.

Depaoli’s take: This is great news and with the Isle of Capri jumping as the front runner in the latest slot projections, the arena situation isn’t looking so gloomy.

Tensions are mounting between head coach Mike Therien and General manager Ray Shero. Therien stated yesterday to the Rangers radio network that he wants Jordan Staal and Kristopher Letang to stay with the Penguins while Ray Shero is adament in them returning to the juniors. Shero and Therien have already not seen eye to eye on personel moves. The releasing of Libor Pivko in training camp was all Therien. Shero brought Pivko over from Nashville Predators minor league affiliate. He is now playing Europe.

The buzz on the burgh has learned that Noah Welch will be called up by mid-November at the latest.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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