Jim Balsillie talks about his love for hockey and Canada (transcribed)

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Jim Balsillie spoke with the editorial board at the Toronto Star yesterday and he expressed some frustration regarding the purchase of the Phoenix Coyotes. He talked about this love for the game and his passion for Canada. A real patriot, Jim said he had to take a “side door” approach to try and secure the Coyotes and give Canada a 7th hockey team.

I recorded the conversation with my BlackBerry 8900 using MyCaption so you could read the transcripts. There is also an audio clip for you to listen to

Jim Balsillie Toronto Star Audio

In hockey, I mean, I’ve spent well over five years on this. More millions than anybody knows, and it started out as fun. But, it segued right into to who I really am. It’s like that first Atkinson Principle. It’s like a strong independent, socially just Canada. And yes, with the commercial elite in this country, and the global affairs capacity elite in this conflict country; yes, I tilted against them.

Call me brash, it’s a compliment to me. It’s just as those students were brash, that first day of class at Harvard. I look at Hockey, and I say, “You have 11 people on the Board of Governors in the US, not one of them was Canadian. Now they’ve put one on. We’re the source of the game, and the players, and the money, and I think we should have a 7th team. We bring a lot to the game, we fund it, we provide the players, we provide the money, we provide the huge part of this fan base, and I spent five years, looking for a front door. You get all this characterization: brash, club rules, and I tell you, by complying with the club rules, the way to get what you want is comply with the club rules, and by complying the club rules, it 100% denies the very thing you’re looking for.

But I tell you, I am a resourceful guy. I’m a thoughtful guy. Yes, I’m smart on these things. I figure out these situations very quickly. It’s a strength of mine, and I’m telling you, this situation I have looked at back, forward, every which way, every engagement. There is no front door here. There is no front door, and so, we had to go to a side door. I could think of no other way to get this on the agenda. There was no other team coming to Canada. There was no team coming to Southern Ontario. No chance. No chance. And certainly not Hamilton, guaranteed. To me, the coherence is who we are as a nation, as a people. It’s consistent in everything I do, and there’s no question, a second Atkinson Principle is that when appropriate, challenge entrenched interests.

You look at the entrenched interest of commerce in Canada, RIM could not be more of an outsider, now they’re the most valuable company in the country. On global policy, could not be more of an outsider. Now they’ve become by far the biggest philanthropist in the history of this country on social sciences and by far, the largest foreign policy think tank. And now hockey. I know, my mailbox is swarmed with over a 120,000 people off the site. It’s going to a million.

[Reporter asks "why is there no front door?"]

I can speculate no better than you and I don’t think that it’s constructive to speculate. But I will tell you, I have been more engaged on this on very thorough plan. Arena designs, arena enhancements, market studies, the whole thing, and there is absolutely, categorically, zero interest to even discuss the topic. It’s just not on the table. It’s just not on the table.

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