Steve Belkin = Dr. Evil? Surely You Jest

Steve Belkin…Dr. Evil.

To listen to Bruce Levenson, the two are one-in-the same. You know…come to think of it…I’ve never seen the two in the same room at the same time. Hmmmmmm….

Anywhooo, as Kristie Swartz reported yesterday, “In a memo cited in court Tuesday by Belkin’s attorney, Atlanta Spirit LLC co-owner Bruce Levenson mentions ‘Belkin’s misdeeds’ as a business partner and says his wrongdoings should have a ‘not-so-subliminal affect against the evil Belkin’”.

Can’t you just imagine the lawyer placing his pinkie to the corner of his mouth as he uttered the word… EEEeeee-vil?

At the root of this mess is the deal that brought Joe Johnson to the NBA Hawks from the Phoenix Suns a few years back. Belkin, who owns a 30% stake in the two teams and was supposedly the Hawks NBA representative of the eight,  didn’t much cotton to the idea.

But, the other seven wanted Joe and eventually Belkin stepped down.

Now, as I am quite sure all Thrashers and Hawks fans are aware, this week the two parties face off in a Maryland court seeking judgement on exactly how seven of these clowns that make up the Spirit Group LLC…or to some, the Spirit Clowns SUX…are going to be able to buy out the eighth one, Belkin.

Almost since the beginning of this “partnership” in March 2004, the two sides have bickering and arguing over such things as who gets the better seats at the NBA All Star game, who owes who how much money and so forth. In the process, they have all but starved the Thrashers of the resources it needs to build a successful organ-I-zation. Such things like money for better players and better GM…you know, the basics.

Some have argued that the remaining seven clowns have intentionally tried to drive down the overall value of this team so, should an unfavorable ruling be handed down by the bench, they wouldn’t have to dish out quite so much payola to Belkin. Indeed, if you examine how the payroll for this team has declined over the past few seasons…which some would point out is a direct link to their decline in the standings during that time…it’s really not to hard for one to come to such a conclusion.

Continuing with Ms. Swartz’s fine report…Belkin’s attorney, Jack Fabiano “argued that Belkin completed his side of the deal — he let the owners sign Joe Johnson, and he stepped down as NBA governor. So now, the others should pay up — $142.8 million — plus millions in interest”.

That’s… One hundred and forty two point eight Millllllllion dollars! Mwa-HAHAHAHA!

Oh yeah…plus interest.

The trial will not only circulate around the Joe Johnson affair and the money owed…but also they are looking for the judge to decide which appraisal to use in order to place fair a value on the two teams. This will dictate the amout in which Belkin is due in order to be bought out. Belkin has chosen to go with J.P. Morgan who places the $142.8 million price tag on the teams after objecting to CitiGroup’s 2005 appraisal. The Dirty Half-Dozen + One also didn’t like CitiGrouphey look, they can agree on something…but now, “they don’t know what to do”. 

Hmmm…kinda the same way that they don’t seem to know what to do in regards to owning and running a successful NHL franchise, maybe?

So, in short, the parties are looking for the judge to point them in the right direction.

Now, the question that burns on the lips of each and every Thrashers fan is, “Which side should we be rooting for when it comes to what is best for our team”?

Most people that I have spoken to have indicated that Belkin being bought out for his price and this mess coming to an end is ultimately what is best. But, no matter which side “wins” in the coming weeks, there are sure to be appeals a-plenty just down the road. So, it could still be months… if not years… before this cluster gets settle once and for all.

In the mean time, I fear, the same clowns that have been running the Thrashers into the ground over the recent years will continue to be in control even if just for another season or two. They will continue to employ a GM that has overseen the dismantling of a promising climb to respectability not to long ago…to a second-season expansion-era team… regardless of how bad last year was, this year is and next year might be. Worse, they will continue to devalue the team as much as possible as to screw their former colleague out of as much money as they can.

And thus, the Thrashers and their fan base will be the one’s that truly suffer further in this ordeal…much like the children in a messy divorce.

And that, my friends, is truly…evil.

41 comments Add your comment

Get The Puck Out

February 18th, 2009
7:30 am

My eight year old nephew and his sister can get along better than these clowns can. All i want is someone to act like responsible adults and resolve their differences like responsible adults. Don’t they know that all they are doing is sending a message to the Thrashers fan that we don’t care if the Thrashers win, just keep that payroll low, low, low. It’s like a war that you know that you can’t win, but you still have to fight the battle. To bad DFACS can’t do anything, because these are unfit parents.

Bryan

February 18th, 2009
8:30 am

Thrasher fans should be rooting for Belkin. There are 3 possibilities, 2 of which are bad for the Thrashers, and both of these are ASG victories in court:

1. ASG wins, but must pay Belkin the inflated value he seeks ($142 million, plus interest) or something similar. This result would doom the sell of the Thrashers to raise cash that the ASG doesn’t have.
2. ASG wins, and can buy Belkin out at cost or similar. This would put the Thrashers on life support. But ASG would likely sell the Thrashers to maintain their basketball “fix” like a junkie who can’t afford his habit.
3. Belkin wins control of everything. Good bye to ASG. There are no guarantees that a Belkin win would preserve the Thrashers. We don’t know what we don’t know. But what we do know – that the odds of ASG preserving the Thrashers under any circumstance – is not good.

The possibilities under a Belkin administration are almost all to the upside, which include:

1. Belkin maintains ownership. This would almost certainly include cleaning house of the current management, including Waddell.
2. Belkin seeks to sell his new properties. Certainly selling the Hawks/Thrashers and Philips as a package has greater value than splitting them up.
3. Belkin waits. Any smart business person would seek to enhance the value of his assets before selling. This would also benefit the Thrashers.

I can find no similar arguments that would conclude that the ASG is a better option.

Sara

February 18th, 2009
8:39 am

So, just to be clear on this, the same guy who publicly called an STH an a-hole is calling Belkin “evil.” Well, glad that’s all settled…

Get The Puck Out

February 18th, 2009
9:06 am

Did anyone else see the Don Waddie interview during second intermission at LA? I could almost see the strings moving Don and Darren’s arms….

Dwayne Johnson

February 18th, 2009
9:12 am

Woz

February 18th, 2009
9:22 am

If the non-Belkin group ends up with the teams, does anyone really expect that their management abilities will improve once they are more debt laden? Belkin is flat out a better business man (self made, vs Daddy made). These teams need asset improvements, it’s a business thing. In many cases people don’t want what’s good for business. But, in this case, what’s good for the business IS good for the teams and the fans. Better product. I for one sure hope the court throws this thing to Belkin. “Change we can count on..”

Matty Ice

February 18th, 2009
9:30 am

Couldn’t agree more with Woz. The guys running the show are NOT capable guys. They will end up running it into the ground (losing a team, selling a team, 143M in debt and the money they need to inject annually, they are almost immediately bankrupt!!) Let’s let the boys go run GM, or maybe their daddy’s have some contacts with Nardelli at Chrysler. This is a real life situation boys, let real serious folks run it!! We are real fans, we love our sports, find another ‘hobby’.

Brendan

February 18th, 2009
9:38 am

I’m rooting for whatever removes the Magnificent 7 from Power. If Belkin gets control, he’ll fire Waddell. If the AS, LLC remains in charge, Waddell stays, more than likely. Look, what I don’t know about Belkin could fill a warehouse.

Honestly. I must volunteer that. I hear things like, “he’s quirky, and can be difficult.” Okay. I can think of WORSE things for a person to be. And who isn’t quirky and difficult, on occasion? Allrighteee then.

Belkin, I can almost guarantee you, will fire Waddell. And I think he’ll make a strong attempt to find a suitable GM to take over, mold and shape the team for the coming years. Belkin may even ask the NHL to step in and run the hockey side of things. I’d actually be in favor of that. It’s happened before, when the Buffalo Sabres went into Bankruptcy, amid an ownership scandal. And Buffalo came out of that with back-to-back years in the Conference Finals. And drafted well to make that happen.

I know we tend to think the NHL doesn’t like us, and has it out for us, etc. But I agree with Alan, in that the NHL knows Atlanta is an important market. There are over 4.5 million people here. Atlanta is a major U.S. city, and it keeps on growing. To get 18,545 assembled at Philips Arena for a hockey game shouldn’t be all that difficult. All you really need a product worth investing your time in.

I’d wager that Don Waddell is actually a very nice man. He’s always seemed “approachable” to fans. But, he’s had his chance. About that, there can be no denial. He’s had seven Top 10 overall picks to build the franchise, irrespective of where the budgets may have been set. The team has never advanced to even the 2nd round of the playoffs. It hasn’t won a playoff game. And to trumpet a division title, in a division as historically weak as the Southeast Division has been, is a bit “grasping.” I’m sure Don Waddell tried his very best. It’s not as if everything he did was garbage. He did some good things. There’s no denying that. But there’s also no denying that he’s not Houdini. And there’s no magical escape plan for this franchise. It’s in YEAR TWO of yet another building project. And that’s probably smartest course to take, at this point, given the set of circumstances the team find itself in.

David McDavid’s finances weren’t any better than the Spirit’s. Had he owned these teams, things might not have turned out much better. What this team needs … is an isolated owner, with deep pockets, who loves hockey, and will get out of the way while a CAPABLE GM steps in to run the team. Until then, as Rawhide says, the fans will continue to suffer.

Thrashy Thrashy

February 18th, 2009
9:40 am

Belkin wants the Hawks. He’s an NBA guy. He’ll sell the Thrashers if he ends up winning this case in the next, oh, five years.

Glovesave29

February 18th, 2009
9:41 am

The more important question is, who is going to be Mr. Bigglesworth? Clearly DW can play the role of #2, as that is what he has constructed this team of. And who will play Frau Farbissina? And is there any chance that she can double as a goaltending coach? I will gladly take the part of Austin Powers so that I may cozy on up to Elizabeth Hurley.

Jimbo

February 18th, 2009
9:45 am

Most successful NHL teams have been led by on owner who set an example of “excellence”. Success in his own profession, followed by the careful recruiting of a senior management team that reflected his values. Wintess Detroit. we have had owners starting with Time Warner who were disinterested in the team on to the incompetent ASG clowns. These guys have clearly demonstrated that they are the “gang that couldn’t shoot straight”. They’ve not shown any knowledge of hockey and have stuck with a GM who has probably the poorest track record in the history of the NHL. Does this paint any sort of a positive picture for the future? I think that the best that we can hope for is a new GM with a better sense for talent and a few players who have enough “pride” to push the others to a better level of TEAM performance. The probability of that happening is pretty low.

Smitty

February 18th, 2009
9:53 am

Name calling. How grown-up. I thought Belkin was right with the Joe Johnson deal, Good player but that was a lot of money. Is there any way the NHL can come in and do something with these ASG clowns. At least Belkin tried to show a little fiscal responsibility. By the way, the Toronto Sun reported Brian Burke had a 3-way deal in place between Pittsburg Toronto and ATL but fell through when Therien was let go. Antropov going to Pit for Ryan Malone with Kovy ending up in PIT. Bad rumor I hope but then who is our GM.

Matty Ice

February 18th, 2009
9:55 am

Re: Thrashy Thrashy comment. You may very well be right. Perhaps Belkin keeps the Hawks and sells Thrashers. AT least then the Thrashers have a chance. A new owner, with a passion for the game and a strong business sense. Maybe this two team ownership thing was flawed from the get go???

Alan

February 18th, 2009
10:11 am

I hope, for the sake of us fans, and the sake of the NHL, that this nightmare ends here and now. This trial is expected to last two weeks, “with the possibility of either side appealing.”

I honestly don’t care who wins. Neither “side” here seems to pay any mind to the Thrashers, and this is unfortunate. We have a bunch of b-ball guys running the show here. What we need is a hockey mind to come into the ownership fold – regardless of which side wins, this hockey mind is needed to bolster this team for the future.

There are a lot of unknowns about both sides heading into this. All we know is what we’ve seen, but practically all we know is how things have gone since the lockout. And as we all know, the Thrashers didn’t play that year when this whole thing with Belkin went down.

The ASG deserves all the ire the fans have given them, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be a good ownership group with the right person involved. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean they won’t can Waddell’s arse after the trial… or sooner.

The nightmare is almost over. Hopefully, neither side decides to appeal this ruling, because all it will do is prolong the nightmare. And to me, that will be the biggest loss for all the fans of basketball and hockey here in Atlanta.

I’m not holding my breath, though. What matters to me is whether or not the right decisions are made by the owner(s) after the trial, whomever that might be.

Smoothie

February 18th, 2009
11:07 am

I’m confused guys. Does Belkin even want to win control of either franchise? He is the one who agreed to step down and ostensibly allow the others buy him out…is this case not deciding how to value the franchise for the purpose of a buyout? Perhaps it’s more than that and I haven’t been reading the fine print. But I don’t recall any quotes in which Belkin has stated publicly that he hopes to regain control of the Hawks, let alone the Thrashers.

I think it would be best if the judge were to rule that Belkin is indeed correct and justified in his claim that his buyout should be $140 + M. Hopefully, that would force the cash-strapped ASG clowns to turn around and sell-off the company to someone with deeper pockets (and hopefully better business sense) so they can afford to pay Belkin.

The Idiot Seven is really the crux of the problem with the hockey franchise. They really don’t give a darn, despite Belkin’s drunken proclamations at games, about the direction of this franchise. Or they did want a Stanley Cup so bad they decided to mortgage the future in 2006-07. Now that the economy is in the crapper and they are all having cash flow issues, they realize they were ill-prepared for the long-term as a going concern. Hopefully, the appeals judge will remind them of this reality and force them into “retreat” with the correct judgment for Belkin.

Then perhaps Bettman will be able to step in and guide them in the direction of an owner like the one in Buffalo who saved that franchise from an inglorious and tragic demise after the founder of Adelphia was proven to be a crook of magnificent proportions! I don’t think we can expect Artha Blank to be our hero, but surely there are some deep-pocketed businessmen in Atlanta laying in wait for a “value” oppty like purchasing a devalued asset like the Atlanta Thrashers.

Spud Webb

February 18th, 2009
11:15 am

Man o Man what a giant mess this is. Bottom line is we are years away from this being resolved. As all 8 of the “ASG” count their millions we are stuck with this crap hole of a team. I’d give my left arm and leg along with my Ex-wifes (ahahhaha) to own an NHL hockey team. It’s funny to watch these guys botch this whole thing up when the rest of us would be in heaven running this franchise. Too bad.
Go Sabres!!!!!

R. Stroz

February 18th, 2009
12:26 pm

“They really don’t give a darn, despite Belkin’s drunken proclamations at games, about the direction of this franchise.”

Smoothie – Those would be Levenson’s drunken proclamations. You know the one that called a STH a smart@$$ at the Towne Hall meeting last spring.

Anyone up for a name game? Name the owners?

Belkin = Dr. Evil
Levenson = Mr. Smart@$$ or Otis, the town drunk?

Any ideas for naming the rest of the clowns? Turner, Gearon Sr. & Jr., Seydel?

Smoothie

February 18th, 2009
12:35 pm

Stroz, thanks for the correction! I meant to type Levenson cuz I knew it was the AS$ clown from DC, but all this Belkin talk got me to type Belkin subconciously! ;-) Or perhaps I’m the one who’s drunk! j/k

I don’t know enough about the others to name them, but I’m sure the names of the other seven dwarves would suffice: dopey, sleepy and grumpy must apply to at least 3 of the other six!

Rawhide

February 18th, 2009
12:55 pm

RStroz – I’d tell you what I’d like to call ‘em all…but I kinda like doing this gig. So I’ll just follow the call of prudence and refrain.

polskidawg

February 18th, 2009
1:04 pm

Sorry folks – this situation has a minimum of 12 months to 30 months before its finished. The only possible way it finishes earlier is for the parties to agreed (!) to a out-of-court settlement. Not likely.

Buzilla in CT

February 18th, 2009
1:09 pm

Tilly Willy the Penguin – You can call the owners whatever you like. You are the opinion guy remember? They don’t own the AJC and as far as I know you don’t get paid for doing this blog (I hope I am wrong about that)

So let’em rip! Call them all @ssclown, cheese-eating, surrender monkeys! …or whatever you like.

Rawhide

February 18th, 2009
1:30 pm

Zillinator – Oh, I have no issue whatsoever saying what I think about ‘em. But if I were to assign them the names that I would like to give ‘em…it would exceed the PG-13 level I try to keep things at around here. :mad:

kracker

February 18th, 2009
2:25 pm

WOW, this is a nice, new look to the blog, RH…You must have some juice w/ somebody, cause Knobler’s still looks the same.

As for the lawsuit, if you peel back a few layers of every onion there will be a lawyer(s) at the root of every problem. The NHL should ban lawyers (or lawyer loving people) from owning a team.

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2009
2:51 pm

I am going to buy the team. I will set up the promotions and tv rights. To hell with the present owners.

Rawhide

February 18th, 2009
3:04 pm

Kracker – Wish I could take the credit for it, the guys downtown deserve that. However, I am like a kid with a new toy when it comes to some of the stuff I cane do with it…Oh, and Knobler will take his new blog out for a spin this weekend!

Hockey Biltong – I fully support and edorse you as owner! However, to help pay for it, are you planning to…

Hold a bakesale?

have a car wash?

join the urban outdoorsmen in front of Philips with a paper cup?

ask Obama for a chunk of that massive stimulous plan?

Or…

Are you going to do what the lovely Mrs. Biltong suggested and host a series of 50/50 raffle at Philips with the proceeds going to the cost?

Buzilla in CT

February 18th, 2009
3:33 pm

So Seydel married Ted Turner’s daughter and Beau Turner is Ted’s son. Maybe Ted might step back into the picture and save the Thrashers (since he is so into saving endangered animals) since he is blood with two of the seven idiots

five_hole

February 18th, 2009
4:45 pm

Two thoughts:

1. As long as the lawsuit drags on, the Thashers will not be sold or moved. They are only in danger of leaving after the dust settles.

2. Can we sue the ASG for promises made but renegged on (such as “we’re moving in the right direction”)?

HookyBob

February 18th, 2009
6:00 pm

This may be a change off topic,..but I found this article to be interesting,..and on topic for the Thrashers (Well, on most days :) .

http://www.cbc.ca/sports/blogs/2009/02/a_few_slumpbusting_tips.html

Dwayne Johnson

February 18th, 2009
6:30 pm

i would like to know what STH stands for. anyone. And Rawhide, i did get thru today on “in the slot” with Espo and Greener (i think thats what they call him) channel 204 xm radio. He, as in “the” Phil Esposito, no relation to Angelo, has not seen a goal overturned yet because of the distinct kicking motion rule, we come to the conclusion that the ref’s union pay the goobers in toronto to agree with every call made on the ice.

Sara

February 18th, 2009
7:02 pm

STH = season ticket holder

Dwayne Johnson

February 18th, 2009
7:08 pm

Dwayne Johnson

February 18th, 2009
7:11 pm

naming the owners…turner the hooch….sara seydel

Sage of Bluesland

February 18th, 2009
7:41 pm

“2. Can we sue the ASG for promises made but renegged on (such as “we’re moving in the right direction”)?”

No, but you could stop subsidizing the incompetence which continues…or, you could continue wasting money on a product which is mere schedule-fodder for the real teams in the league…

Bumbling, blustering Donny thanks you for your continued support. That alone should be enough to boycott this abomination of a product.

But, Blueland contains many sheep…

Matty Ice

February 18th, 2009
7:43 pm

Belkin has proclaimed his interest in gaining total control. The deal was if the others didn’t agree on the appraisal(s) he could buy them out at cost. These numbers are wrong, but it’s kinda like 142M to Belkin for his 30% or he gets to buy the other clowns out for their ORIGINAL investment measured in tens of millions. So it is a money deal and a maneuver that gives him sole ownership. But that may be a better deal than letting Daddy’s offsping, inlaws and inbreds borrow 140M to buy Belkin out. AND continue to borrow tens of millions to cover losses. Starting to sound like Economic Recovery math… Best scenario, Belkin gets control, sells Thrashers to a solid owner focused on ‘Excellence’ and everybody isn’t in such huge debt!!

Now for the joke part: Then sell B of A the naming rights to Phillips upon end of that deal. Afterall B of A is using $200M of TARP moneys to have ’sponsor’ rights not even naming rights to the new Yankeee Stadium. It’s a mess.

Hopefully our kids are all smart and strong enough to deal with the piles we are leaving for them…

Rawhide

February 18th, 2009
9:17 pm

Dwayne Johnson – What time were you on? I must have just missed ya.

It does not surprise me at all that Espo said that he could not remember seeing one overturned.

You know…I have all but given up on the whole “kicking motion” rule. There was a goal scored on us not too long agao…Ottawa I think…and the play was right in front of me. The player took a pass from the right wing…lifted his right skate as he had the goal to his left…and flipped the puck in with the back part of his right skate.

It was clear what he had done, but I knew immediately the goal was gonna be allowed.

Eh…whatchagonnado?

Hockey Biltong

February 18th, 2009
9:24 pm

Saga of blue cheese, what’s with the negative waves, man??? You gonna watch some hockey, root for the home team or just squat on some fermenting mouldy chair and rant about being the only guy who can see the light???

jason

February 19th, 2009
12:00 am

Just got the invite for the Town Hall meeting. March 6. Will any owners show up to call STH’s a**holes?

Sharon

February 19th, 2009
1:40 am

Isn’t March 6th the same day that Thrashers fans are plotting a protest against the ASG and Waddell? Now that’s going to be an interesting night.

Dwayne Johnson

February 19th, 2009
7:46 am

i was on a 5:50 pm, listened to it again this a.m. on the repeat. and i remember the goal you are talking about. another one was when a player did a chest bump toward the goal after the puck bounced straight up in the air in front of Kari after he made a save. distinct motion toward the net, altho not with his leg, pretty soon thay will let the o-fense push it in with their arms, elbows, arse and head. yes, Sharon, March 6th is the protest night.

Archie

February 23rd, 2009
6:01 pm

Thrashers fans are truly stuck between a rock and a hard place here. All the downsides listed above about a Spirit owned franchise are true in my opinion. Surely the benefit of not paying 7 digits a year to a team of lawyers for a lawsuit would help with their finances, and the trial being over would create stability for the franchise that free agents and front office executives are currently avoiding like the plague. They probably can’t fire Waddell right now even if they wanted to because what competant NHL GM would volunteer to join this circus? So there is a slight glimmer of hope for Belkin-less, Spirit owned franchise. However, the most likely result is that the gets sold to recoup financial losses. Surely, any buyer for a hockey team in the South is going to try to move the team, but even if they keep them in Atlanta they will then owe rent to the ASG to play in Phillips Arena (which would be more incentive to move them out of town).

If Belkin wins the teams, it’ll be the same result. He never had any interest in the first place of owning a hockey team, it was the NBA he was after. He will sell the Thrashers in the blink of an eye if he wins. He’s also on record in earlier court documents saying he wanted to run the teams on the cheap. As ironic as it sounds, the only thing keeping the Thrashers in Atlanta right now is the bad economy. No business tycoon with the dream of owning a sports franchise is going to cash in his stock portfolio at 10 cents on the dollar to buy a hockey team that’s lost money every year of its existence.

don waddell

February 25th, 2009
4:58 am

Hi my name is don waddell on his 12 year plan remember we had former stanley cup coachwin for us i fired cause he was gettin smart about me bein a jerk n not lettin him get better players…so i showed him door…Now i just jerk off u fans again with excuse’s to bad u all want me fired but u can’t ha ha….see yall in kansas city as the New NHL team there.Yours truly Don (Bubba) Waddell