January 19, 2006

Is Super Mario set to ditch Pittsburgh?: Hockey insider John Davidson said this morning on FAN590-AM in Toronto that player-owner Mario Lemieux will annouce within a day or two that the Pittsburgh Penguins are up for sale, and several news outlets are backing him up. Is this a last-ditch effort to get a new building, and if the city doesn't give the Penguins' assembled group the slot licensing they want, where might the franchise be headed?

posted by wfrazerjr to hockey at 08:49 AM - 32 comments

That's something that has been in the works for a little while now. I say let them go. One of the considerations for moving has been Kansas and that could be a good place to go. Plus, after lacking a pro hockey team for a little while, Pittsburgh could turn out like Minnesota. After not having a team, they nearly bent over backwards just to get one. Once it's gone, they may miss it enough to appreciate it. Plus, it could turn an underachieving team around with the change of venue/scenery. Wherever they go, good luck to them.

posted by jager at 09:18 AM on January 19, 2006

Is anyone else ready for the Penguins to either leave Pittsburgh or stop bitching about fan support and the lack of a new arena? This pitch for an arena funded by a slot-machine parlor is offensive. Telling a community they'll lose their beloved hockey team if they don't allow gambling is wrong -- does Pittsburgh allow any other gambling at this time? It also sends a pretty interesting message for an NHL franchise to cozy up to the gambling industry.

posted by rcade at 09:19 AM on January 19, 2006

I read it like this: The slot license bid has gotten alot of publicity in an attempt to apply pressure, but it won't work in the end because the Penguins haven't lined the right pockets. The annoucement of a possible sale, with the condition that new ownership would be bound by any agreements current ownership make in regard to a new arena, is a subtle admission that the new arena ain't happening. [/tinfoil hat]

posted by garfield at 09:33 AM on January 19, 2006

I think it would be interesting to see what it would do to the divisions if Pittsburgh left for another city. (but remember Lemieux added that even if the team is sold, the new owners would be bound by an agreement to remain in Pittsburgh if a coalition assembled by the Penguins is awarded the license to run a slots parlor downtown.) Would Columbus move over to the Atlantic? Would Washington move up to the Atlantic and Nashville to the Southeast? And if Kansas City got the team how many cities/states would that be that lost team and got one back? Let's see Atlanta Colorado Minnesota and garfield has a good point.

posted by njsk8r20 at 09:46 AM on January 19, 2006

Kansas? That's one rumor, over the years, that I've never heard. My gut tells me that if they do get bought and moved, it will be to either OK City or Portland.

posted by NoMich at 09:47 AM on January 19, 2006

The Penguins are absolutely terrible. How can they not wonder why they don't have fan support? Mellon Arena is about 40 years old. In the day of cities building new stadiums every 10 years, I think Pittsburgh is way overdo. The city of Pittsburgh has no money. They were talking bankruptcy not too long ago. They have to find a way to get the money and gambling is as good as any. People love to play poker machines and cherry machines here. Might as well use that revenue to build a new arena. They are also trying to get a horse racing track built here as well.

posted by dbt302 at 09:55 AM on January 19, 2006

NoMich, Kansas City has apparently been in play on some level for a while.

posted by chicobangs at 10:00 AM on January 19, 2006

I think Kansas City is much more likely than Oklahoma City or Portland.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:11 AM on January 19, 2006

On a somewhat related note, Bob McKenzie took Penguin management to task for their "development" of Crosby.

posted by garfield at 10:40 AM on January 19, 2006

Chico: I completely missed that post back in December. Thanks for pointing it out to me.

posted by NoMich at 10:44 AM on January 19, 2006

Great link and very true ... thanks, garf!

posted by wfrazerjr at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2006

From garfield's link: From Derian Hatcher high-sticking Crosby to Ilya Kovalchuk running him, and mocking him, to the Canuck gauntlet Crosby had to run on Monday night, the Penguins have shown what they're made of. Yikes, Ilya Kovalchuk running and mocking Crosby? Kovalchuk has got an attitude problem in dire need of a fixing. I can't wait for the next Pens/Thrashers tilt.

posted by NoMich at 10:50 AM on January 19, 2006

The thing is that there is no denying that the frontrunner in KC. The only other viable option is Portland. The rose Garden is a great place. OKC and the others could come into play late in the game, when some cities are dropping out.

posted by Joe88 at 11:15 AM on January 19, 2006

Chico: I completely missed that post back in December. Thanks for pointing it out to me. Same here. I guess my post was little redundant. I did catch another point by garfield that I would like to quote (because I totally agree): I would advise the NHL to move the franchise to a city with a popular and successful youth hockey program. Does Kansas City have a large chunk of their kids playing the sport? If not, I'd advise the NHL to keep looking. There is such wealth of hockey knowledge here. I think we need to have a Spofi pick up game.

posted by njsk8r20 at 11:22 AM on January 19, 2006

Free agency will be the ruin of pro sports. I realise thats not the key issue here but thats the beauty of having yer own keyboard. As a big time Flyers fan and a fan of sports in general Im very disapointed to see any major team go. It solves nothing except to assuage some big egos. RIP Penguins.

posted by GoBirds at 11:51 AM on January 19, 2006

I don't think this link is redundant at all. I don't know about KC as far as youth hockey goes, but the moment Bill Wirtz dies, Milwaukee immediately becomes a viable option. It's a big enough town, they have a long and rich minor (& youth) hockey tradition there, and the rivalries with Minnesota & Chicago would hit the ground running. But until then? KC. Portland. Maybe Oklahoma City, though that'd be a hard sell at the head offices in New York & Toronto. Maybe Winnipeg, depending on if they have a working business model up there. But I'm clinging to the hope that this is just chicken-littleing on Mario's part, and they'll find a solution to this that keeps the Pens in Pittsburgh long term.

posted by chicobangs at 12:32 PM on January 19, 2006

Sorry for the confusion chico. I meant my Atlanta, Colorado, Minnesota coment was redundant because you already mentioned it in the other (thread?). I'm a SpoFi rookie and still learning the differences of post/link/comment etc. Anyway I think this could be a 'bluff type thing' by Mario to try and get the ball rolling.

posted by njsk8r20 at 12:53 PM on January 19, 2006

Milwaukee can't support an NHL team. Maybe they can handle the Brewers and Bucks, but not the NHL. The Brew Crew are small-market, and the Bucks were the same until Ode to Bogut and they all bought Australian flags.

posted by Joe88 at 01:08 PM on January 19, 2006

There's a good summary of Pittsburgh's options here. Quote from Tim Leiweke, president and chief executive officer of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Staples Center and Los Angeles Kings, "The Pittsburgh Penguins can be the Kansas City Penguins, no question about it," Leiweke said. "That team here ... it will sell out every ticket in advance, end of story. That team will be a huge instant home run here. And that kid, Sidney Crosby, is unbelievable."

posted by canucklehead at 01:56 PM on January 19, 2006

Good article, canucklehead, though this bit might indicate that Hamilton's problems are bigger than an out of date arena and territorial restrictions: Hamilton's story is intriguing ... one rumour identified the sugar daddy as Jim Balsillie, the millionaire chairman and co-CEO of the firm that makes BlackBerry. That firm is RIM and they seem to be on the brink of a single unfriendly ruling away from being shut down in the US for patent infringement. The PTO has gone their way recently but looks very questionable as to whether that will help in time. If not, Balsillie will not be a billionaire much longer. Also, the article mentions SF as a large market without a team. I don't see why since San Jose surely has territorial rights that would interfere as much as Toronto and Buffalo do for Hamilton. The Sharks have really good attendance but I don't see this area as strong enough to support two teams. Not even close.

posted by billsaysthis at 02:59 PM on January 19, 2006

Would bringing a new team to Hartford run into the same market problems that Hamilton has? I seem to recall hearing from Connecticut residents that one of the biggest problems that faced the Whale was too much market overlap from the NYC metro and Boston metro areas.

posted by NoMich at 03:24 PM on January 19, 2006

No more tri-state teams....For the love of puck, no! We have enough broadcast black-outs as it is.

posted by garfield at 03:30 PM on January 19, 2006

It would be great if somehow Canada managed to get a team back.

posted by Samsonov14 at 03:56 PM on January 19, 2006

All this talk of Hamilton, is it really a) big enough to support its own team and b) far enough away from Toronto and Ottowa to have its own base? What was the problem in Winnipeg that forced out the Jets? Assuming the Pen's move to the Western conference is Coloumbus the sure bet to move into the east? Detroit is only slightly further east and having the Leafs, Bs, Habs, Rangers, and Wings all in the same conference coupled with the possibilty of an Av's vs. Wings finals seems pretty exciting.

posted by HATER 187 at 04:50 PM on January 19, 2006

Hamilton ain't happening. Toronto and Buffalo are two hours' drive apart, and Hamilton is pretty much halfway between them. It's a shame, because the Copps Coliseum is a fine facility.

posted by chicobangs at 04:56 PM on January 19, 2006

After consulting a map it does stand to reason that Columbus would move east. It's a shame because I am 2 hrs. away from Nashville (the next closest hockey city is St.Louis, 3 hrs.) and unless they change the schedule I won't see the Devils there again for 3 yrs. I'm glad I went to the game last night. Great game, nice arena, I never understood a team in Nashville till now, great fans. Perhaps I am being too skeptical as to where a hockey team should go. After all, I have never been to KC. I am opposed to SF because California already has 3 teams. I am sure wherever they go (if they go) they won't be able to keep the "Penguins" name, so as long they don't come up w/ a lame name (Mighty Ducks) I won't complain too much.

posted by njsk8r20 at 08:51 AM on January 20, 2006

LeMieux is ready to dump the team because he can't recoup his money. He doesn't have any money savvy, and the league was happy to get a few more years out of the team in Pittsburgh by using him to finance it. But KC is too close to St.Louis for the NHL to accept them. They won't let Milwaukee have a team because they are within 100 miles of Chicago. Why would they accept Kansas City?

posted by mrhockey at 03:25 PM on January 20, 2006

Assuming the Pen's move to the Western conference is Coloumbus the sure bet to move into the east? Detroit is only slightly further east and having the Leafs, Bs, Habs, Rangers, and Wings all in the same conference coupled with the possibilty of an Av's vs. Wings finals seems pretty exciting. It sure would be nice to play the the quality Original Six teams at least once a season, instead of eight games against the Blackhawks... However, since this thread is not about the stupid NHL scheduling and the eight games against other teams in your division while there are few out of conference games (by the way, the Wings have no more eastern conference games, might as well give them the President's Trophy with all the games against the Blackhawks, Blues, and Blue Jackets they got left) I'll respond more to the above quote. I don't think the Wings could move since that would leave only one Original Six team in the Western Confernce, and because you miss quality games against the Stars and the Avs. Then again, it sure would be nice to play Toronto.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:25 PM on January 20, 2006

Now with his retirement, Capt.Offwing is thinking along the same lines as I.

posted by garfield at 02:37 PM on January 24, 2006

I think he may be right. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome your Kansas City Channel Cats!"

posted by njsk8r20 at 03:15 PM on January 24, 2006

I'm pulling for Winnipeg.

posted by garfield at 03:49 PM on January 24, 2006

Could they be called the Jets again or we they need something new?

posted by njsk8r20 at 04:06 PM on January 24, 2006

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