Sabres mum on Preds' move as Hamilton launches tix drive

Updated: June 14, 2007, 7:54 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have expressed no concern about the Nashville Predators' potentially relocating to nearby Hamilton, Ontario. Not yet, anyway.

"It's a fool's game for me to speculate on things like that," Sabres managing partner Larry Quinn said Thursday. "If and when somebody decides to put a franchise in Hamilton, they're going to have to go through a procedure. ... We'll act accordingly."

Quinn declined to say whether the Sabres would oppose locating a franchise in the Southern Ontario steel city some 70 miles west of Buffalo. The Sabres count about 12 percent of their season-ticket holders from Ontario's Niagara region.

Quinn said the topic of a franchise in Hamilton never came up when he met with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly earlier this week.

The Predators' move north has been raised as a possibility after BlackBerry billionaire Jim Balsillie reached a tentative agreement to purchase the Predators from Wisconsin businessman Craig Leipold.

On Wednesday, Hamilton's city council approved an agreement that would allow the city's Copps Coliseum to become the Predators' home if the franchise relocates. Balsillie's lawyer, Richard Rodier, has repeatedly stressed that there's a lease in place in Nashville, and he termed the agreement in Hamilton a contingency plan.

Balsillie's purchase must also be approved by the league's board of governors.

That didn't prevent the launch of a ticket drive in Hamilton on Thursday. Ticketmaster began taking deposits for "Hamilton Predators" season tickets.

It's unclear whether the Sabres would have a case against -- or receive compensation from -- a team moving to Hamilton. The city is located just outside a 50-mile radius that, under an NHL bylaw, is considered Buffalo's market.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

ALSO SEE