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Quinn denies report that Sabres are looking for a buyer

TSN.ca Staff with files

12/8/2008 3:23:33 PM

Buffalo Sabres minority owner Larry Quinn denied a report on Monday saying majority owner Tom Golisano is looking to sell the NHL club.

A story to be released in Western New York Hockey magazine later this week says - citing an unnamed source - that talks are in the exploratory stage and that Golisano is listening to offers. The story adds that Quinn is actively looking to find a buyer, and that Research in Motion co-founder Jim Balsillie has been approached.

"Absolutely not," Quinn told TSN on Monday. "We're not selling the team, we're not moving the team to Hamilton, there is absolutely nothing going on."

Balsillie has been pursuing an NHL franchise for some time, coming up empty in plans to acquire the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators. Balsillie's $220 million offer for the Predators fell through in 2007 after he started taking season ticket deposits in Hamilton. Balsillie also made a bid to purchase the Penguins in 2006, but withdrew it after receiving notice from the NHL that the league would restrict his control over the team.

Balsillie also reportedly approached Golisano about a potential sale of the Sabres last December, only to be turned down.

"From time to time reports surface quoting anonymous sources claiming a club is for sale, or that Jim is doing this or that with respect to a particular club," Balsillie's lawyer Richard Rodier told TSN on Monday. "These reports have generally been inaccurate. More importantly, these reports unfairly put the incumbent owners (or club management) in the uncomfortable and potentially destabilizing situation of having to comment on these inaccurate reports. Very unfairly. As such we have no comment beyond referring you to the statement made by Larry Quinn, the Managing Partner of the Sabres." 

Quinn added that while the ownership group will always keep an open ear to offers, they are not looking for suitors right now.

"We listen to everything," he told TSN. "However, the reality is we're happy and we're definitely not shopping for a buyer."

The Western New York Hockey magazine article adds that a deal could be struck where the Sabres play part of their home schedule at Hamilton's Copps Coliseum.

The news comes just as the league's Board of Governors are set to meet in Palm Beach, Florida. The crumbling economy is expected to be the top issue for discussion amidst speculation that several NHL owners are struggling with rising costs.

Files from WROC-TV in Rochester, NY and rochesterhomepage.net were used for this report.