Penguins sold to RIM exec
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been purchased by Jim Balsillie, the co-chief executive officerof Canada's Research in Motion Ltd.,the company that makes the wireless messaging device BlackBerry.
Balsillie, 45, bought the team from a group led by former NHL star Mario Lemieux.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed Thursday, but the last offerforthe Penguins was reportedly pegged at$175 million US.
The deal still needs to be approved by the league, which could take several months.
Balsillie is expected to keep the team in Pittsburgh.He denies anyintention of moving it to southern Ontario.
There had been speculation that Balsillie could try to move the franchise to Hamilton, which is close to his home and RIM's head office in Waterloo, Ont., if a new arena in Pittsburgh isn't built.
In the past, Balsillie has said the future for the Penguins — who have up-and-coming NHL superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on their roster — is bright.
"Jim is a tremendous businessman and a passionate hockey fan, and I think he is going to be a great owner for the Pittsburgh Penguins," said Lemieux.
"I know his hope is to get a new arena deal and keep the team here in Pittsburgh for the long-term."
Lemieux, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, bought the team with a group in federal bankruptcy court almost seven years ago, in part to protect more than $25 million that was owed to him by the previous ownership.
For years, Lemieuxhas attempted to secure a new facility for the team, which plays in the 45-year-old Mellon Arena.
The Penguins' lease at the 16,958-seat facility expires in 2007.
The Penguins open the 2006-07 season on Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Balsillie is expected to attend the game.
With files from the Canadian Press