NHL: we’ll take the suspected fraudster, thanks

Does the NHL exercise anything resembling due diligence when choosing those it welcomes into its rarified club of owners?

The latest laugher: William Del Biaggio III (Roman numerals his), is not only in bankruptcy protection, but under FBI investigation for possible misdealings related to the purchase of the Predators. Here’s a complicated read from CP on the latest troubles plaguing he man known as “Boots” (precious nickname his). Reading between the lines, one can’t help thinking that an FBI investigation makes Del Biaggio’s release from Chapter 11 about as likely as Florida winning the Cup. Ergo, whoever holds the debt he took on to buy the Preds and secure their arena lease is likely to get pennies on the dollar. Cost of widespread snickering at the NHL’s expense? Priceless.

Recall, folks, that “Boots” got in the door only after Gary Bettman and the league blocked BlackBerry gazillionaire Jim Balsillie from buying the Nashville Tootoos on account of their priority was to keep the club in Tennessee. They feared that Balsillie might do something stupid like move the club to a market where it would succeed.

Much more promising was “Boots’s” first ingenious plan to move the Preds to Kansas City, filling a presumably ravenous appetite for hockey in northwest Missour-ah. Now “Boots” owes something in the range of $57 million that he is evidently unable to pay. Balsillie, meanwhile, is worth a little under $5 billion, according to very recent reports.

I know what you’re thinking: Jim B’s in perfect shape to swoop in now, get a share of the Preds and prepare them to move. Don’t bet on it. Bettman et al decided long ago Balsillie’s not a worthy pledge to their fraternity.

They are, however, looking for Peter Pocklington’s number …