October 04, 2006

RIM CEO buys Penguins: Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of the company that invented sells the Blackberry, has purchased the Pittsburgh Penguins from Mario Lemieux and company. Rumours abound that Balsillie wants to move the team to southern Ontario.

posted by Amateur to hockey at 08:48 PM - 24 comments

By the sounds of this Sportsnet article ... this deal is still far from being "final". Although, dodging the questions about this deal does seem par for the course when something of this magnitude is about to take place.

posted by Spitztengle at 10:15 PM on October 04, 2006

The Kitchener Penguins? The Waterloo Penguins? The Hamilton Penguins? I've got it, the Berlin Penguins! It could work! Sign me up for a 5 game ticket package.

posted by tommybiden at 10:56 PM on October 04, 2006

Why should they keep the name? They could be the Hamilton Ay's.

posted by apoch at 11:29 PM on October 04, 2006

Do you mean ehs? Or are you going with a nautical theme, as in, ay! captain!

posted by tommybiden at 11:57 PM on October 04, 2006

Story was this morning that they would be moved to Hamilton if the City of Pittsburgh doesn't get the money for a new arena. It's a shame too. The Pirates, who are awful, get a $300 million dollar stadium, the Steelers, 5 time SB Champs, get a new stadium., and the Penguins who have won Stanley Cups get the shaft. Just another fast way for the city to lose tax revenue.

posted by dbt302 at 08:11 AM on October 05, 2006

Yeah, those Pirates have no history at all. Especially when compared to the Penguins. The Pens are as much to blame as anyone for not getting a new arena. Long story, but they still are being hard-headed with the gambling license. The state tried to work with them on a back-up arena plan but they refused. I'd hate to see them move, but they've certainly done all they could to get out of town.

posted by SummersEve at 08:28 AM on October 05, 2006

If they do move the team, that would suck for the city of Pittsburgh. But it would be nice to see another team in Canada. How about the Hamilton Hosers?

posted by wingnut4life at 08:29 AM on October 05, 2006

Story was this morning that they would be moved to Hamilton if the City of Pittsburgh doesn't get the money for a new arena. I'd be very surprised if Hamilton gets an NHL team in my lifetime while Buffalo and Toronto still have franchises. Both teams would extract a HUGE fee from the new franchise for infringing on their location(s). It's always been the main stumbling block for Hamilton to get a team. Besides, the Copps arena is no longer "NHL" quality. It might have been back in 1991, but things have changed (luxury box requirements, amenities) since then.

posted by grum@work at 08:32 AM on October 05, 2006

Yeah -- the odds of an NHL team coming to Hamilton are super-slim. Regardless of what perpetually-bankrupt Buffalo has to say about it, The Leafs Machine will do all it can to not let this happen. I'm pulling for Winnipeg. Have you ever been there? They need something to entertain them.

posted by fabulon7 at 09:40 AM on October 05, 2006

There should be two teams in Toronto - a la New York. It's totally supportable and frankly, deserved for the 40+ years of buffoonery that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hamilton/Toronto gets another team with some actual talent and the Leafs can get a big cheque (their favorite thing) - everyone wins! However, they should try to keep that team in Pittsburgh. I don't care who's fault it was/is that there isn't a new rink, but the Mellon arena is a total fucking bush-league joke. New stadium or new town, it really has come down to that. Also - there are remarkable similarities between Hamilton and Pittsburgh in terms of their core industries. This just seems right. Also - how about Winnipeg?

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:41 AM on October 05, 2006

Does this mean the Penguins aren't moving to Hartford? -sniff, sniff-

posted by YukonGold at 09:46 AM on October 05, 2006

The team officially says he's signed the purchase agreement. Now he just needs the approval of the board of gov's which he should get this fall. Accordign the team, Lemieux says he knows Basillie's "hope is to get a new arena deal and keep the team here in Pittsburgh for the long-term."

posted by SummersEve at 11:19 AM on October 05, 2006

See, that's bullshit. This guy has no intention of keeping the team in Pittsburgh. He has created a little empire out there in Hamilton/Halton and wants his hockey team. The talk is for the benefit of curious onlookers. I give the franchise one more year in Pittsburgh. Which is too bad, but okay. Hockey seems pretty much unsupportable in that town as it exists today. Baring in mind that Toronto and Buffalo cannot legally "block" a franchise from going to Hamilton - they can demand and negotiate potential large penalty payments from the new franchise, but they cannot prevent it from moving. My understanding is that Basillie has lawyers working on this now, and has secured a $50,000 exclusive rights contract with Copps Colliseum in the event of a move (meaning that he gets first right to use at the drop of a hat).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:00 PM on October 05, 2006

It is looking more and more like the Penguins time in Pittsburgh is coming to an end. Remember 7 years ago when the NHL wanted to dissolve the team? It seems Mario did all he could and now he is washing his hands of the whole mess.

posted by MrFrisby at 01:50 PM on October 05, 2006

Weedy, I have mixed feelings about the idea of a second NHL franchise in Toronto. On the one hand, even more Toronto media coverage about hockey will drive me to hard drugs. On the other hand, it could drive more desperate Raptors fans my way. Anyway, I can't believe that I'm the first person to suggest that if the team moves, it should be to Hartford so they can resurrect the greatest NHL logo of all time.

posted by Scott Carefoot at 03:17 PM on October 05, 2006

Ah, Scott, I think it's all very sustainable. This town can afford two teams, and basing the other in Hamilton gives the former a small, but significant buffer. There's no way in hell it would be put it Kitchener/Waterloo (though, to be fair, that town isn't smaller than Raleigh). Frankly, though, part of me is excited for this because I'm mad at the Leafs for their decades of ineptitude and feel a little actual competition is nothing short of deserved (and a good thing - call it motivation). With a population of over 5 million screaming hockey fans (4.9999 million of which can't ever get tickets, let alone afford 'em) to choose from, there's room for both. As much as we all love "the Whale" there is little to suggest you wouldn't be moving the team again five years from now.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:29 PM on October 05, 2006

Is it time to say "I told you so"yet? WIN-NI-PEG!

posted by garfield at 03:58 PM on October 05, 2006

Okay, in this Post-Gazette story from last month, they say: A new owner would be bound to the team's arrangement with Isle of Capri Gaming, which will donate $290 million toward a new arena if it is awarded the city's slots license later this year. If Forest City/Harrah's or PITG Gaming land the city's slots license, there is a proposed "Plan B" for arena funding that draws on slots and state money as well as contributions from the Penguins. and: Under NHL Bylaw 36, the league can block a move to another city if there is a plan to make a team viable. We've had this discussion before, but if there's one thing those of us stuck in Pennsyltucky can tell you, the PA State legislature is very dumb and very petty. There's slow progress, but there's also a chance this whole slot-machine-funded arena plan totally falls through especially since a bunch of very powerful incumbents are getting the boot from voters after giving themselves a huge pay raise. The gambling stuff don't sit well with them good morality folk. The lease is up in June, how much longer can they wait? A glance at their history shows they've been failing more than they've been successful. So maybe a move isn't a bad idea. Sucks, though since the Philadelphia-Pittsburgh rivalry is coming back in a big way. Political contributions seriously have zero bearing on this.

posted by SummersEve at 04:18 PM on October 05, 2006

Gene Collier's column in today's Post Gazette: Maybe it's me, but I got that vague sense that if plans for a new building aren't firm sometime this winter and moving the franchise were to become an inevitable alternative, it wouldn't exactly turn Balsillie's Blackberrys blue. ... Winding up as the guy who was in charge when the Penguins moved to Hamilton isn't really going to sully Balsillie's resume very far from Blawnox.

posted by SummersEve at 06:34 AM on October 06, 2006

Baring in mind that Toronto and Buffalo cannot legally "block" a franchise from going to Hamilton - they can demand and negotiate potential large penalty payments from the new franchise, but they cannot prevent it from moving. Well, all moves have to be voted upon by the other teams. Toronto and Buffalo could convince a few other teams (Dallas, Vancouver, Columbus and others) to vote against the move (without first extracting a pound of flesh), with the promise of support in return if there is a chance of a move to San Antonio, Seattle or Cleveland. I can't remember the exact number, but I believe a small group of teams could block the vote in that way.

posted by grum@work at 11:43 AM on October 06, 2006

moving the franchise were to become an inevitable alternative not yet, then? ok.

posted by garfield at 12:37 PM on October 06, 2006

The press conference sure looked like Mario was thrilled to hand the keys over. I still hope they stay in Pittsburgh, and I honestly believe that's still the way to bet, but ... Hamilton? with an overhauled Copps Coliseum, maybe. Winnipeg? Same thing. Kitchener-Waterloo? They still only have the Memorial Arena there, right? What does that hold, 7,000? It may be as big as Raleigh there, but Raleigh has the countryside for a long way in every direction. The Kitchener Rangers Water-Lous have Toronto, Buffalo and Detroit all within 100 miles. It's a non-starter. They'll put a team back in Quebec City before they move a team to another Canadian town no American has ever heard of. People down here are still bending their minds around where Calgary is, and they held an Olympics there not too long ago. Kitchener's a non-starter. On the other side of the border, Kansas City & Hartford are both looking like longer shots, I guess.

posted by chicobangs at 02:18 PM on October 06, 2006

He looked thrilled because he has managed to get some cash that has been owed to him for some time now. He still hasn't recouped everything he was owed, right? Or am I way off on that? He also looked thrilled because he, the team's alpha hero, won't be responsible for the team re-locating, which is why the team is being sold in the first place, imo, and has been the end team management has being moving towards ever since the NHL re-opened its doors, due to the unlikelihood of the arena getting off the ground. Why would ownership sell if they thought they could get a new arena and all the revenue that comes with that? I'd like to see the Pens stay put too...What kind of a person wants to rip a pro-sports franchise away from some place else? I just don't think it is in the cards. Maybe if there is a massive increase in the price of steel...

posted by garfield at 03:20 PM on October 06, 2006

just wanted to pass this along to reinforce the idea that political contributions have zero bearing on this issue.

posted by garfield at 03:32 PM on October 24, 2006

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