Balsillie's camp trades harsh words with NHL Staff

6/4/2008 10:55:10 PM

The war of words between the National Hockey League and Jim Balsillie continues amidst a report this week that several NHL teams have approached the Research In Motion billionaire about a possible sale or minority partnership.

"The commissioner made it very clear he does not want Jim in the league under any circumstances.period," Balsillie's advisor Richard Rodier told TSN on Wednesday.

Rodier's remarks came in light of a National Post report that eight ownership groups - including the Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars - have engaged in talks and negotiations with Balsillie.

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was quick to address the quote from Balsillie's camp, maintaining that the league's decisions on the matter are based on what the owners want.

"That certainly is inconsistent with anything I have ever heard the commissioner say," Daly told TSN on Wednesday.

"Ultimately, Mr. Balsillie's ability to be an owner in the NHL will depend on his ability to find an existing owner who wants to sell him a team, and his ability to persuade the 29 other team owners - his prospective partners - that he would be a good owner and good partner in the league venture. That's not something the Commissioner decides. Maybe Mr. Rodier would be better off confining his comments to subject matters as to which he might have some small level of knowledge; this subject isn't one of them."

Balsillie has been unsuccessful in two attempts to buy an existing NHL franchise.