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Caption: Richard Rodier, legal consel for Jim Balsillie, answers questions during a press conference in Toronto on Tuesday, June 16, 2009 regarding the reaction of the ruling on the relocation application to move the Phoenix Coyotes to Hamiton, Ont. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

NATHAN DENETTE

The absence of Richard Rodier from Jim Balsillie's big day is generating almost as much talk around the courthouse as the possible outcome of the BlackBerry billionaire's quest to land the Phoenix Coyotes.

Rodier is the Toronto lawyer who implemented Jim Balsillie's strategy to become an NHL owner and put a team into Hamilton by using the bankruptcy laws. But as the court battle with the NHL moved into yesterday's climax with an auction sale Rodier was in Toronto and listening to the proceedings by telephone.

It was an odd turn of events given that Rodier made it his life's work to study the bankruptcy laws with an eye to forcing the NHL to accept a second team in Southern Ontario.

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There was no indication last week of any conflict with the new lawyer on Balsillie's team, anti-trust expert Jeffrey Kessler, who has a big reputation.

But Susan Freeman, one of the lawyers on Balsillie's team, said Rodier was still involved in the fight and there was no falling-out with Balsillie.

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