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Jim Balsillie appears to have another competitor in his bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the NHL club to Hamilton. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)
Jim Balsillie appears to have another competitor in his bid to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the NHL club to Hamilton. (MARK BLINCH/Reuters)

Letters of reference? Balsillie's got a few Add to ...

Jim Balsillie has offered the NHL 22 letters of commendation from two Premiers, several business leaders, a former United States ambassador to Canada and the Elton John Aids Foundation in an effort to prove he would be a worthy owner of the Phoenix Coyotes.

On Monday, Balsillie sent the league a 43-page report on why the Coyotes were not viable in Phoenix but would succeed in Hamilton.

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The report was part of his official application to the league to move the club to Southern Ontario in conjunction with his purchase of the Coyotes for $212.5-million (U.S.).

Balsillie followed that up last night with a stack of letters and other documents including several newspaper profiles, a four-page list of his accomplishments and a certificate marking his inclusion in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame.

One letter was from Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who congratulated Balsillie on a recent public policy award.

"Congratulations once again on your well-deserved award: you continue to inspire your fellow Ontarians and Canadians," said the letter dated May 21, 2009.

Also included was a hand-written note from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall dated April 4, 2009, complimenting the BlackBerry tycoon on his "innovation and entrepreneurship."

There were several letters from business executives including one from William Swanson, the chief executive of Raytheon Co., which makes missiles and other defence systems. The letter, dated Feb 27, 2009, thanked Balsillie for speaking at a company leadership forum. "Thank you for inspiring us on our journey," Swanson wrote.

Balsillie also included a Jan. 8, 2009, "Happy New Year" note from U.S. ambassador David Wilkins, who was stepping down from his position.

"Please know how much your friendship has meant to me these past few years," Wilkins wrote, underlining the words "your" and "friendship."

The letter from the Elton John foundation, dated June 25, 2008, thanked Balsillie for a $48,000 donation.

The letters and other documents are part of Balsillie's strategy to counter the NHL's allegations that he has not played by the rules in his pursuit of the Coyotes and two other NHL teams.

The league has resisted his bid to move the club and has criticized Balsillie in court filings for allegedly working with the club's current majority owner, Jerry Moyes, to secretly put the Coyotes into Chapter 11 last month.

The NHL has said it was working on a possible bid that would have kept the club in Phoenix. However, it has not revealed details of that proposal.

In his application, Balsillie outlined the finances of the Coyotes, suggesting the club has lost more than $300-million since moving from Winnipeg in 1996.

Tom Wright, former commissioner of the CFL, wrote the report that accompanied the application. He told reporters yesterday that the Coyotes would make money immediately in Hamilton.

"There's every indication and prospective that the team will actually be profitable," Wright said. "In the event that it's not, Mr. Balsillie has expressed his willingness and his ability to cover any of those losses." 

With files from The Canadian Press

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