BlackBerry maker’s CEO sends letters of reference to sway NHL
Balsillie has tried twice in recent years to buy a hockey team, only to be blocked by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who this week assured people there was nothing personal between him and Balsillie. Balsillie is currently locked in a court battle with the NHL in his efforts to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.
On Monday, Balsillie sent in his application to the NHL explaining why the Phoenix Coyotes should move to Hamilton, Ontario and why he’d make a good owner. Late Tuesday, he supplemented that with 22 letters of recommendation from a variety of mostly Canadian VIPs.
Still, with friends like these, maybe Bettman will be swayed this time. Here are some excerpts:
From Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty , congratulating Balsillie on May 21 for receiving a Public Policy Forum Testimonial Award: “Take pride in knowing that you are playing a pivotal role in advancing the discourse that is so vital to the health of a democratic society.”
Fellow Premier, Brad Wall of Saskatchewan, also sent him a written note on April 4 to congratulate him on the honor.
From Isadore Sharp, CEO of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts: “Congratulations on this distinguished honour” in reference to receiving Order of the Business Hall of Fame in Canada.
From WIlliam Swanson, CEO of Raytheon: “Your presentation helped us better understand the importance of driving innovation through leadership.”
From former U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins: “Please know how much your friendship (those two words underlined by hand by Wilkins) has meant to me these past few years.”
Others providing heart-warming testimonials for Balsillie: the member of the Canadian Parliament for Kitchener-Waterloo, where RIM is based, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade, the Elton John AIDS Foundation for a $48,305gift, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation for the free BlackBerry Curves.
But curiously, no letter praised Balsillie for his gumption for trying to buy a hockey team that filed for bankruptcy without even telling the NHL first and going through the courts, rather than the usual channels, to make his case.
(PHOTO: Reuters/Fred Thornhill, Sept. 2008 at charity hockey game in Toronto.)