Report: Canadian businessman shows interest in Pens

Updated: September 22, 2006, 2:43 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

The Pittsburgh Penguins in Canada? While that leap can't be made just yet, a recent report throws another wrench in the works for the race to a new team owner.

Citing two sources with knowledge of the sale process, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Friday that Jim Balsillie, chairman and co-CEO of Research in Motion, the Ontario-based company maker of Blackberry, has surfaced as a frontrunner to buy the Penguins.

According to the report, this is the second time Balsillie has pursued the NHL team -- he was the reported Canadian bidder who almost signed on with the Penguins in July. The Post-Gazette reported that Balsillie backed out of those original talks when he saw how complicated it would be to carry out his believed wish -- to move the team to Hamilton, Ontario.

It is not know what Balsillie's intentions are this second time around, the Post-Gazette reported.

After Balsillie's first attempt, four other suitors, Hartford real-estate developer Sam Fingold, New York businessman Andrew Murstein and Ohio businessman and Ringgold High School graduate Jim Renacci, engaged in a bidding war.

The Post-Gazette reported that while the trio remains interested in the team, Balsillie is ahead of them with his offer. In July, his offer was reported to be between $175-$180 million.

It still isn't clear whether Balsillie will try to move the Penguins if he does take control of the Penguins, but the new owner is tied to the team's Isle of Capri Gaming deal. The Isle of Capri will give $290 million toward a new arena if it is awarded a slots license this year, according to the newspaper.

The Penguins' lease with Mellon Arena runs out in June.