The Pittsburgh Penguins are looking into a possible sale of the National Hockey League franchise and hired Morgan Stanley to review their options.
NHL Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle bought the team out of bankruptcy in 1999 for $85 million. Forbes magazine ranked the Penguins as the NHL’s 10th most-valuable franchise at $565 million in 2014.
“Because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel,” Lemieux and Burkle said in a joint statement. “After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”
Since Lemieux, who will turn 50 in October, and Burkle bought the team, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 and opened the $312 million CONSOL Energy Center, in 2010. The team was eliminated in the first round of this year’s playoffs, losing to the New York Rangers in five games.
Lemieux was drafted by the Penguins in 1984 and spent his entire playing career in Pittsburgh. He retired as a player in 1997 before returning to the ice as player-owner from 2000-06. He won two Stanley Cups as a player and one as an owner.
“Our goal all along was to solidify the franchise both on and off the ice,” he said. “Our star players are signed to long-term contracts, they’ve got a deep and passionate base to support them, and I believe the Penguins are well positioned for the future. Regardless of what happens, I plan on staying involved with the team in some capacity, and Ron and I plan to retain an ownership stake.”
The Penguins have made the playoffs for nine straight seasons, the second-longest active streak in the NHL, and have sold out 377 straight games, dating back to February 2007.