VANCOUVER (CP) - Days after Francesco Aquilini purchased half the Vancouver Canucks hockey club he practised fending off media questions about his partners being "stabbed in the back."
Video shown at the B.C. Supreme Court trial into the Canuck's ownership Thursday showed Aquilini practising the announcement that he'd bought the team and fending off mock questions. Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie are suing Aquilini - who was once their partner - saying he secretly negotiated for the sale of the team while they were still bidding on the club.
They want the court to declare the Aquilini sale unlawful and order that their last offer for the team be reinstated.
Aquilini since went on to become the sole owner of the NHL team.
During the videotaped fake news conference - discovered recently by Gaglardi's lawyers - Aquilini denies he was even a partner with Gaglardi and Beedie.
"The Gaglardis are saying privately that they feel like they've been stabbed in the back by you," the fake reporter pokes at him."You were sort of along for the ride with them and then you kind of struck out on your own."
Aquilini steers the fake news conference back to his purchase of the team.
"They say you screwed them," the media consultant said.
"I don't have any comment," Aquilini countered.
He practised his answers several times with the mock reporters.
Under cross examination, Aquilini denied telling members of the media consulting firm that he could be in trouble over the broken partnership, testifying they likely read the newspapers and figured out the questions for themselves.
"You told them you were involved with the Gaglardi, but that you backed out from the relationship. Correct," Gaglardi lawyer Murray Clemens asked.
"I must have told them that I did explore with Tom and Ryan (between November 2003 and March 2004.). I must have told him that. So in case questions were asked about that, just to prepare myself," Aquilini replied.
Clemens asked Aquilini if he discussed the series of mock questions with the media consulting firm "about allegations from the Gaglardis and the Beedies that you stabbed them in the back, screwed them out of the deal."
"No," Aquilini stated.
Clemens asked Aquilini why he didn't phone Beedie and Gaglardi the day before the November 2004 news conference to tell them he had purchased the team.
"I was busy," he said. "I just wanted to get through the press conference. I was nervous. I wasn't good at public speaking."
Somehow Gaglardi found out about the deal and Aquilini told the court Gaglardi went to his house and harassed his wife and frightened his children while she was trying to load the children in the car.