Cold Hard Rants: Due Diligence Done Dirt Cheap

Posted by Drew Mindell in Cold Hard Rants on November 24, 2009 — 2 Comments

On Sunday morning, as I was eagerly awaiting noon, and the kickoff of NFL Sunday, I was going through my typical motions of a lazy Sunday morning, reading my usual websites, and catching up with the NHL’s goings on, thanks to Richard’s publishing of the Morning Papers. While, as usual, there were several worthwhile stories, what really caught my eye is the headline that the Tampa Bay Lightning were still having financial difficulties.

Clicking on the article, because nothing makes me smile more than articles documenting the failures of the NHL’s Southern Expansion, I read the following passage,

Operationally, the team has been stable this season, with co-owner Oren Koules and general manager Brian Lawton running things, and co-owner Len Barrie, as per Commissioner Gary Bettman, involved only in transactions worth more than $2 million.

Reading this, it got me thinking, of all the disastrous moves in the legacy of Gary Bettman, has one ever rivaled the approval of ownership to the two clowns currently “owning” the Tampa Bay Lightning?

So, with that in mind, I did what I do best (ridicule Gary Bettman), and I compiled a list of all of the ownership catastrophes that have occurred under his tiny perfect management. Without further adieu, here is my top ten list (with apologies to David Letterman) of epic ownership failures under the watch of Gary Bettman:

10) Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk is placed under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

9) Anaheim Mighty Ducks owner Henry Samueli takes it up a notch and he too is placed under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). In June of 2008, Samueli is suspended as owner of the Ducks, and is only reinstated this month after pleading guilty to a felony charge of lying to the SEC. In newspaper articles he is referred to as a “billionaire philanthropist.”

8 ) Alan Cohen sells the Florida Panthers to minority owners Cliff Viner and Stu Siegel. The price tag was a cool $0.00 and instead the only thing Cohen got from the sale was no longer being responsible for the teams growing debts. In less promising news for the financial success of Viner and Siegel’s enterprise, you can currently get a free Florida Panthers ticket simply by showing a State of Florida driver’s license.

7) The Pittsburgh Penguins, a team with a solid legacy in the NHL thanks to Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr are “near death” before Mario Lemieux purchases the franchise. The cost? $0.00 as Lemieux is owed many millions in deferred pay.

6) The Atlanta Thrashers ownership group is in the midst of a divorce that the writers of “War of the Roses” would describe as excessively messy. Don’t worry though, this apocalypse of a franchise has had its owners locked in this court battle since 2005, so it’s just status quo in Dixie.

5) Is your majority owner in jail? If you answered no, you are doing better than former Sabres owner John Rigas, who is currently doing 15 years in prison for bank, wire, and securities fraud. In George W. Bush’s only good decision, he chose not to respond to Rigas’s plea for a presidential pardon.

4) Much like two petulant teenagers, Gary Bettman had to separate Tampa Bay owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie from each other. Now Barrie has no say unless the issue involves more than 2 million dollars. No confirmation was available to the rumour that Koules threatened to treat Barrie like one of the characters in his “Saw” movie franchise.

3) It takes a rare breed to of incompetence to not only fail in an attempt to be an NHL owner, but to then end up in prison over this failure. Fortunately William “Boots” Del Biaggio was up to the challenge as he is now serving eight years in prison for bilking investors and a bank he used to own out of millions of dollars. The best part of this incompetent’s failed scheme is that two of the investors he bilked were existing NHL owners Craig Leopold of the Minnesota Wild and Los Angeles Kings owner AEG. Oh yeah, he pulled this off after the NHL introduced a new, rigorous, due diligence process.

2) Prospective New York Islanders owner John Spano had the NHL’s approval to buy the Isles, and all systems were a go until the time came for Spano to pay for the team. Only then was it discovered he actually had no money and all of his documents were forgeries. Maybe, in hindsight, the NHL should have paid more than $600.00 to investigate the financial wherewithal of Mr. Spano.

1) The Phoenix Coyotes. Need I say more?

For, I am Drew Mindell.

Do you have a top ten list that you want to see in the future, or do you disagree with my rankings? Let’s hear from you in the comments.

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