THE CANADIAN PRESS
TORONTO — Jim Balsillie’s online petition supporting his bid to bring a seventh NHL team to Canada has surpassed the 100,000 mark.
Balsillie, the billionaire co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, is attempting to buy the Phoenix Coyotes for US$212.5 million and move them to southern Ontario. In a statement Friday he thanked the number of fans who have signed up on the website www.MakeItSeven.ca.
"I have been making the case that southern Ontario is the best under-served hockey market in the world," said Balsillie. "The support of these 100,000 fans, in less than a week, goes a long way to helping prove that point. Let’s keep it going."
Speaking later Friday to CTV News, Balsillie added that any perceived rift between himself and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman should not get in the way of what he’s trying to accomplish.
"For me, this is really about advancing the best interests of the league and trying to help the game," he told CTV.
"It’s not about personalities, hot and cold, or anything like that."
Balsillie also touched on why he has continued to try and bring another NHL team to Canada after failing in two previous attempts to purchase the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators.
"There’s no question this is a dream, and to live a dream in a way that you can share it with others, and share it in your home country and your home province, in your hometown … I can’t think of anything more that I would ever want," said Balsillie.
"So for me it’s a dream."