NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -Nashville Predators owner Craig Leipold has asked the NHL to hold off its consideration of a deal to sell the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie.
Leipold wants to have a binding agreement on the proposed $220 million sale with Balsillie, the co-CEO of Blackberry makers Research in Motion Ltd., before the league further considers the transaction.
``We did send the NHL a letter today requesting that it not do any further due diligence on Jim Balsillie's offer for the Nashville Predators until we reach a binding agreement,'' Leipold said in a statement Friday evening. ``If Jim is interested in reaching a binding agreement, we are prepared to move forward.''
Richard Rodier, Balsillie's lawyer, said in an email to The Associated Press that Leipold's letter to the NHL changes little. Rodier called the letter ``no big deal'' and suggested the sale would proceed.
A spokesman for the NHL, which held the first round of its draft Friday night, didn't return a message seeking comment.
Leipold announced May 24 he was selling the team to Balsillie after losing $70 million over 10 years with the franchise and called for the deal to be finalized by June 30, though that deadline could be extended. Leipold and Balsillie have agreed to a term sheet for the transfer of ownership of the club, but that is nonbinding.
A lack of binding agreement prevented the NHL's board of governors from voting on the Predators sale on Wednesday, and the board isn't scheduled to meet again until the fall. Any deal likely won't be approved before next season.
Balsillie has already started a process to move the Predators to Hamilton, Ontario, should a potential out in the team's lease with the arena in Nashville be exercised after the sale's completion.
Balsillie withdrew a $175 million offer to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in December because the league did not want him to relocate the team. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman earlier this week called plans to relocate the Predators premature.
A local group reportedly has emerged to buy the Predators if Balsillie's bid falls through despite Leipold's inability to find a local minority investor.
Leipold has owned the team since paying most of the $80 million for the franchise awarded in June 1997, the first team of the NHL's last expansion phase. Leipold helped negotiate the NHL's new labor agreement, which features revenue sharing for small market teams.
---
AP Sports Writer Rob Gillies in Toronto contributed to this report.
Advertisement

Top NHL Public Bets

NHL Top Stories

Thumbnail Los Angeles tasked with cooling off New York At 30-16-1, the streaking Rangers are climbing in the Metropolitan Division. The knowledge that Henrik Lundqvist once again appears unstoppable is merely icing...
Thumbnail Malkin, Pittsburgh tackle rising Carolina The Penguins are not without their problems as the NHL closes in on the All-Star break. Fortunately for Mike Sullivan’s bunch, it’s producing more than...
Thumbnail Sophomore sensation carries load for Oilers Not only does Edmonton boast the NHL’s leading scorer in Connor McDavid, but it features arguably the hottest netminder on the...
Thumbnail Crosby focused on resuscitating Pens Riding a nine-game winning streak, Washington is the hottest team in hockey right now. But will the league’s third-leading scorer throw a wrench into the Caps’...
Thumbnail Western Conference titans clash shortly John Gibson is acclimating quite nicely to his new role as the Ducks’ workhorse in net. Still, can the 23-year-old cool off the Blues tonight?

NHL Team Pages