“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, however, to say whether the Sabres would oppose locating a franchise in the Southern Ontario city some 110 kilometres west of Buffalo, potentially drawing from the Sabres fan base. Buffalo counts about 12 per cent of its season-ticket holders from Ontario’s Niagara region.
Quinn said the topic of a franchise in Hamilton never came up after he met with both NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and deputy commissioner Bill Daly earlier this week.
The Predators’ move north has been raised as a possibility after Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, 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 Copps Coliseum to become the Predators’ home if the franchise ever relocated. 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 hasn’t prevented the launch of a ticket drive in Hamilton on Thursday.
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 80-kilometre radius that, under an NHL bylaw, is considered the Sabres market.