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Fenway Reaches Agreement to Buy Penguins; Lemieux Remains to Guide Hockey Ops

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux

The sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins will be complete by the end of the year. According to the Penguins news release on Monday morning, Mario Lemieux will continue as part of the ownership group and guide the hockey operations.

Contrary to earlier reports, Ron Burkle will also remain part of the ownership group. Neither the Penguins nor Fenway has specified how much equity Lemieux or Burkle will retain, though rumored figures ($850-900 million) place Fenway’s bid over most published team values.

The Penguins said they expect to complete the deal by the end of the year.

“As the Penguins enter a new chapter, I will continue to be as active and engaged with the team as I always have been and look forward to continuing to build on our success with our incoming partners at FSG,” Lemieux said. “They have an organizational philosophy that mirrors the approach that worked so well for Ron and me over the past 22 years.”

Lemieux and Burkle bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999. Three Stanley Cups, a new arena, and 22 years later, they will remain part of the ownership group.

The Pittsburgh Penguins management will also remain intact, including CEO David Morehouse, COO Kevin Acklin, President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, General Manager Ron Hextall, and head coach Mike Sullivan.

The Fenway Group purchase includes all Penguins holdings, from the team, entertainment, and real estate.

“Fenway Sports Group brings everything we could ask for in an ownership partner to help continue the historic success of the Pittsburgh Penguins,” said Morehouse. “They understand what the Penguins mean to Pittsburgh, and they bring to us the latest in cutting-edge sports research, data analytics, player training and performance, real estate development, and organizational excellence. This combination is a truly exciting partnership that positions our club at the forefront of the future of professional sports and allows us to build upon what Ron and Mario created.”

The Penguins have had a few rough patches with the city over Hill District development, but those were recently solved. The development will proceed on land surrounding PPG Paints Arena.

“As the Penguins enter a new chapter, I will continue to be as active and engaged with the team as I always have been and look forward to continuing to build on our success with our incoming partners at FSG,” Lemieux said. “They have an organizational philosophy that mirrors the approach that worked so well for Ron and me over the past 22 years.”

The Penguins have become a premier NHL franchise and one of the most prominent in sports. The team sold out more than 600 straight games, and last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins TV ratings were the highest of any NHL or NBA team.

The final step in the sale is for the NHL Board of Governors to approve it. Bank of America served as financial advisor to FSG, and Citi served as financial advisor to the Penguins. Reed Smith served as legal advisor to the Penguins on the transaction.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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