Penguins on Thin Ice?

Shame on the NHL for last-minute meddling in a deal that would have given the Penguins some financial stability, and kudos to Jim Balsillie for pulling out of a no-win deal.

More interesting than the failure of the deal itself -- and, by the way, what sane person would buy the team now? -- is comparing the Post-Gazette's initial coverage, which concentrates on reaction from County Exec Dan Onorato and Mayor Luke, to Sports Illustrated's coverage, which emphasizes current owner Mario Lemieux. One is about pandering in local politics, the other is about sports.


7 Responses to "Penguins on Thin Ice?"

Mark Rauterkus said... 12/16/2006 9:20 AM

Shame on Jim B to stand before a state agency and harp just days ago about the certainty of the Penguins with its tie to gambling and IOC.

Being certain isn't a value he should trumpet.

See my blog for more.

Anonymous said... 12/16/2006 11:17 AM

That ass was determined to move the team. The "meddling" is a sports league looking after a franchise as it should. Bye bye Balsilly... go steal another team.

Anonymous said... 12/16/2006 9:11 PM

People should stick to their word, I agree. And the NHL should strive to keep teams in the markets where they will be most successful.

But I'm not sure how moving a team that one owns is "stealing." It's time cities stop looking at professional sports teams like civic assets and starting treating them like what they are--private businesses.

Mark Rauterkus said... 12/18/2006 1:08 PM

Right J.P.

But, a team that owns a building can't move the team to another city and take its building with them.

So, if the teams owned the buildings, they'd have deeper roots to where they are now.

So, I think that the Penguins should have the building's ownership. I think if they get a free building -- fine -- but they can hold the lease.

And, pay its taxes.

But, if the Pens own the building and bolt -- then they'll have a kick in the teeth with the building's ownership.

Plus, with the same logic.

The Steelers and Pirates should be urged -- if not forced -- to buy the buildings they play in now.

Anonymous said... 12/18/2006 7:47 PM

Was Madison's blog entry a joke?

Anonymous said... 12/18/2006 7:57 PM

Is this a joke? The NHL's stipulations were that Balls agree to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, regardless. Balls pulls his offer off the table because HE WANTS TO MOVE THE TEAM OUT OF PITTSBURGH. Pittsburgh loses if the team moves, regardless of the financial stability of the would-be owner.

I cannot for the life of me figure out if Madison's post was a joke? Or am I reading it wrong? The NHL can meddle all it wants if it will prevent the team from moving.

Mike Madison said... 12/18/2006 9:21 PM

No, not a joke. Quite serious. If the Pens go, they go.

Balsillie put up $175 million to buy a hockey franchise that only recently emerged from bankruptcy court and that is part of the least well-run professional sports league in the country. He can do what he wants with the team, and if this were a business like any other in this country, he could do with it as he pleases. If that means that Pittsburgh loses a hockey team, so be it. Frankly, and honestly, I think that Pittsburgh would be better off, since we would no longer have to put up with politicians pandering to this particular pro sports league and its owners.

Sure, Pittsburgh could use a new arena. If the hockey team wants one so badly, let the hockey team pay for it. Or let a private developer run the numbers and raise private money to build an arena that makes financial sense. The casino/arena deal offered by Isle of Capri is a mirage, a way to get the taxpaying public pay for an arena without actually being aware of it. Moreover, Duquesne U. doesn't want a casino/arena next door, and a good part of the Hill District doesn't want it, either.

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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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