So it looks like neither successful Canadian businessman and ardent hockey fan Jim Balsillie, nor the NHL itself, represented by Commissioner Gary Bettman, will be the owner of the Phoenix Coyotes! A court in Arizona ruled on Wednesday that neither bid to take over the team was acceptable, but that the fate of the team will rest, nonetheless, in the hands of the League.
In a sense, it was a victory for the NHL Board of Governors, which retains the right to select its owners and the locations of its franchises. The judge did say that it wouldn’t take much to bring the NHL’s bid up to snuff, but the bid of the Blackberry Billionaire is over. And he’s not appealing, saying that he has done all he can to attempt to bring a seventh NHL franchise to Canada. To be sure, it was not a victory for fans who would love to see another team in Canada, and particularly in the most densely-populated part of the country: southern Ontario.
When I heard the result of this bit of legal stickhandling, my mind immediately went to a story that is recorded in 1 Kings 3.16-28, whereby King Solomon demonstrated just how wise he was:
Some time later two prostitutes came to the king to have an argument settled. “Please, my lord,” one of them began, “this woman and I live in the same house. I gave birth to a baby while she was with me in the house. Three days later this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there were only two of us in the house.
“But her baby died during the night when she rolled over on it. Then she got up in the night and took my son from beside me while I was asleep. She laid her dead child in my arms and took mine to sleep beside her. And in the morning when I tried to nurse my son, he was dead! But when I looked more closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t my son at all.”
Then the other woman interrupted, “It certainly was your son, and the living child is mine.”
“No,” the first woman said, “the living child is mine, and the dead one is yours.” And so they argued back and forth before the king.
Then the king said, “Let’s get the facts straight. Both of you claim the living child is yours, and each says that the dead one belongs to the other. All right, bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought to the king.
Then he said, “Cut the living child in two, and give half to one woman and half to the other!”
Then the woman who was the real mother of the living child, and who loved him very much, cried out, “Oh no, my lord! Give her the child—please do not kill him!”
But the other woman said, “All right, he will be neither yours nor mine; divide him between us!”
Then the king said, “Do not kill the child, but give him to the woman who wants him to live, for she is his mother!”
When all Israel heard the king’s decision, the people were in awe of the king, for they saw the wisdom God had given him for rendering justice. (NLT)
Of course, the analogy breaks down, since most Canadians would think that Balsillie would be the ‘real mother’ of this ‘baby’! And yet, the analogy works, because many of us would reason that Balsillie really is the party to this case that wants the Phoenix Coyotes to live. He just doesn’t want them to live in Phoenix, and the NHL can’t handle the sort of spirit with which the RIM boss comes to the table.
Will this ‘baby’ die? It wasn’t cut in two, but its creditors would say it was already on life support.
Solomon demonstrated his God-given wisdom in his order to cut the baby in two, because he knew that love would prompt the real mother to give up the child rather than see it die.
I sometimes wonder if churches are like that. There are times that churches die because bickering parties can’t agree on what is usually not a life-and-death issue. For all churches everywhere, let’s pray for wisdom from God to see them live and thrive!
As for the Phoenix Coyotes, well, I guess time will tell.