Eugene Melnyk Responds to Offside Remarks by Jim Balsillie



    OTTAWA, Aug. 20 /CNW/ - The following is a statement by Eugene Melnyk and
a reprint of an NHL statement issued earlier today:

    "As a businessman, I know about playing tough and getting your elbows up.
    I also know lessons that most of us learned early in our childhoods - you
play fair; you play by the rules and you help others when you can.
    I have watched with some dismay Jim Balsillie's fall from being a
deserving business icon to what now appears to be a desperate man willing to
say anything or do anything to buy an NHL franchise.
    I used to privately feel sympathy for his plight, but as I've watched his
conduct with and towards the league and other owners, I clearly believe the
sport of hockey is better off without him.
    In a recent legal filing, he dragged me into his hurricane of legal
filings and panicked pleas and cited me as someone who is lacking the personal
integrity to own the Ottawa Senators hockey franchise.
    I've tried to reach Jim through his office to find out why he would say
something like this about me - we barely know each other - but I've received
no response.
    I will say in response publicly that his willingness to drag down anyone
he can get his hands on along with him is discouraging and saddens me.
    Jim and I both found great success in our Canadian businesses. And that
is where the comparisons stop.
    When I sought to purchase the Ottawa Senators, there were great obstacles
but I played by the rules and respected the NHL as an institution. I have
spent my adult life helping others - supporting charities, orphanages, day
care centres, supporting our troops and our athletes.
    I do these things to give back to my country and to really deserving men,
women and children in Canada. I mind my own business and don't drag in others
when I get into trouble.
    It is well documented that I was required to pay fines to the OSC over
civil administrative oversights like filing paperwork on time. This is a far
cry from the sanctions imposed on Jim Balsillie by the Ontario Securities
Commission arising from his role in the improper grant by Research In Motion
(NASDAQ:  RIMM, TSX: RIM) of more than 1,000 stock options involving millions of
shares over a period of almost ten years, his role in the systematic and
repeated issuance by RIM over many years of misleading disclosure concerning
RIM's stock option dating practices, and the benefits Balsillie derived
personally from stock options that were granted improperly to him . These
sanctions are widely acknowledged to be among the most severe ever imposed by
a Securities Commission in Canada (see
http://www.osc.gov.on.ca/Enforcement/Proceedings/AlphaListing/ep_r_index.jsp)
    I'm comfortable in my own skin, Jim. You should look around at the
friends you are losing and the damage you are causing to yourself, the NHL and
all Canadians."

    NHL Statement

    The following is a statement issued to media earlier today by the NHL
spokesperson Bill Daly:

    "I'm not going to comment specifically except to say that none of the
cited situations are even remotely comparable to Balsillie's situation.
    With respect to Mr. Melnyk in particular, Balsillie's attempt in any way
to disparage his reputation and his good standing as an NHL owner is nothing
more than a malicious act of desperation. During his time in the League, Mr.
Melnyk has been a model owner and good and loyal business partner to the rest
of the League's Clubs. He has consistently and effectively advocated in the
best interests of his franchise, while at the same time acting consistently
with, and in support of, broader League interests and initiatives.
    None of the circumstances cited in Balsillie's legal filings have in any
way affected Mr. Melnyk's ability to be an effective owner, or have otherwise
adversely impacted the reputation of the National Hockey League. Mr. Balsillie
knows full well why he was unanimously rejected by the NHL Board of Governors.
He has consistently and repeatedly demonstrated a total disregard of League
rules and structure. He has turned his back on numerous commitments and
representations made to the League and to our owners demonstrating a clear
lack of personal integrity. And he has spent considerable time and resources
deliberately attempting to destabilize and undermine both the League and
several of our franchises, which has caused significant damage to our business
as a result. Why would any team or owner in our League want him as a business
partner?"





For further information:

For further information: Joanne Kearney, (416) 804-5949,
Joanne.kearney@fleishman.ca

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