NHL cleared by Canada's antitrust watchdog

Tue Apr 1, 2008 6:53am EDT
 
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The National Hockey League won a legal faceoff on Monday when Canada's antitrust watchdog said there was nothing improper in its handling of failed bid for the Nashville Predators.

The Competition Bureau started an investigation last year when the NHL reportedly balked at an attempt by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, to buy the Nashville team with an eye to moving the club to southern Ontario.

Locating the team in Hamilton, Ontario, would have put it in direct market competition with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres, but there was no evidence the NHL blocked the move for antitrust reasons, the regulators said.

"The NHL was consistently of the view that the Nashville Predators franchise should not be relocated at this time, irrespective of where the franchise would be relocated," the bureau said.

The Predators were eventually bought by a group of businessmen who plan to keep it in the Tennessee city.

(Reporting Allan Dowd, Editing by Peter Galloway)