190-balsillie070622

Jim Balsillie signed a letter of intent to buy the Nashiville Predators in May. ((Mark Lennihan/Associated Press))

Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie has accused NHL commissioner Gary Bettman of sabotaging his bid to buy the Nashville Predators, according to an ESPN.com report.

Balsillie's legal representative, Richard Rodier, alleges that Bettman forced Predators owner Craig Leipold to walk away from Balsillie's offer of $220 million US and attempt to sell his franchise to William (Boots) Del Biaggio.

Del Biaggio, a San Jose Sharks minority owner, is heading a group trying to bring an NHL team to Kansas City.

"We were advised by Mr. Leipold that the commissioner had found out about the existence of the negotiations and ordered him to immediately cease any further communications with us," Rodier told ESPN.com.

The website reported that Leipold and Rodier were involved in a series of e-mails discussing Bettman's alleged involvement when negotiations between the two sides broke off.

The e-mails also contained Bettman's alleged uneasiness about Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion Ltd., becoming the Predators's new owner.

While Bettman refused to comment directly about the report, he denied the allegations through NHL spokesman Gary Meagher.

Should the charges be proven, the NHL's board of governors could hold discussions to decide whether Bettman acted with the league's best interests in mind.

The board is scheduled to meet in September, with Chicago a likely location.

On Wednesday, Leipold and a few representatives of a Nashville group attempting to purchase the Predators flew to New York for a meeting with the NHL commissioner.

Balsillie's bid to buy the Predators has been stalled since he signed a letter of intent in May.

With files from the Canadian Press