Balsillie to rally Canadians behind bid

6/18/2009 - NHL Phoenix Coyotes

HAMILTON, Ontario -- Jim Balsillie is looking for help in his bid to bring NHL hockey to Southern Ontario.

Balsillie, who is trying to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move the team to Hamilton, will stage a rally on Friday -- dubbed "Make It Seven Day." There are currently six NHL franchises in Canada.

The billionaire, whose $212.5 million offer for the Coyotes was rejected by an Arizona bankruptcy judge Monday, believes a strong showing from fans will boost his pursuit to bring a team to the region.

"Make It Seven Day is all about providing a voice to Canadian hockey fans, while raising money for minor hockey teams across the country," Balsillie, a billionaire whose company makes the Blackberry, said in a statement Thursday. "Canadians have proven themselves to be the best hockey fans in the world. They need to be heard."

Balsillie's team has said the judge's ruling does not close the door on a deal for the Coyotes and a move to Hamilton. A campaign urging fans to send letters of support to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was launched Wednesday.

"It all adds up," Balsillie said. "We have a market that is crying out for an NHL franchise, great fans, a plan for a state-of-the-art arena and tremendous corporate support."

The NHL is looking for a buyer interested in keeping the Coyotes in Arizona.