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Jim Balsillie reportedly inquired about possibly purchasing the Buffalo Sabres. ((Mark Lennihan/Associated Press))

Billionaire Jim Balsillie contacted Buffalo Sabres owner Tom Golisano earlier this season about the possibility of purchasing the franchise, a sign he's still seeking an NHL franchise after two unsuccessful attempts.

Balsillie, the co-chief executive officer of Blackberry maker Research in Motion, phoned Golisano around Christmas, a source familiar with the matter told the Toronto Star.

Golisano indicated he would be open to selling the club, but not if Balsillie was planning to relocate it.

Golisano has long ties to the western New York area.

The founder of payroll processing company Paychex, based in Rochester, N.Y., bought the Sabres out of bankruptcy in 2003.

Balsillie had a tentative agreement to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006.

But he withdrew his offer after learning the NHL would restrict his ability to move the club.

His next attempt was to buy the Nashville Predators.

That was scuttled last summer after Balsillie indicated he would move the club to Hamilton and began taking deposits from prospective season ticket holders.