Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Balsillie Season: We Was Had!

Posted By on Tue, Dec 21, 2010 at 2:00 PM

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More than any other Canadian, BlackBerry mogul Jim Balsillie inspires derision, nerves and fear among Predators fans (yes, even more than Sidney Crosby).

His repeated efforts to buy the team and move it somewhere called "Hamilton," which is apparently located in Ontario, which is apparently a "province" — that's Canadian for "like a state, but not really" — give the Preds faithful a serious case of the heebies and the jeebies.

So when Balsillie allegedly tweeted this morning "Hi again, social friends! Very early morning. Nashville bound today! And not to learn how to write a country song. Stay tuned" the reaction from the social-media active Preds nation was swift and angry and nervous.

Of course, this tweet (the first from the account in more than 18 months) comes during what is traditionally the slowest time of the year for us news types. Ever wonder why there are so many Year In Review issues in December? It ain't because the calendar's about to change. If Christmas was in July, all us pros would be readying our list issues the week after Flag Day.

So the tweet also set reporters in motion. A big story during Christmas Week? Praise the Lord and pass the eggnog.

One bow-tie wearing reporter emailed sources at the team (their response was surprise, followed by a request for the Canadian billionaire's phone number so they could sell him tickets for Thursday's game) and called folks at the state ECD department.

The Tennessean's Michael Cass went so far as to contact the NHL, which responded it was unaware of any talks between the billionaire and the local ownership group. Cass, as Cass is wont to do, efforted the shit out of the story, tweeting out background on why everyone was so on-edge about this tweet.

Meanwhile, Bob McKenzie, who covers hockey for something called TSN (that's Canadian for "ESPN with more punting on third down and lots of curling"), actually, y'know, asked somebody if the account was real. As Cass is pounding out Balsillie background — and as a certain fellow in a bow-tie is bothering everybody he can think of about the tweet — McKenzie reveals the Balsillie account ain't real, eh.

This is, of course, the same news that Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy reported. In May 2009.

In hindsight, perhaps we should have been a bit less excitable, since the NHL has admitted — in open court — that it doesn't trust Balsillie any more than Nashvillians do, making approval of his ownership of a team seriously unlikely.

After "Balsillie" made his announcement — that he was buying a fantasy hockey team and moving it to God-Knows-Where, Canada, along with proof he was indeed in Nashville (an obviously PhotoShopped picture of him in front of the Opry House — his account was suspended by the Twitter powers-that-be.

I suppose Dec. 21 is Canadian for "April Fools Day."

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