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Lemieux May Accept Piece Of Pens


Mario Lemieux might be willing to give up part of the $30 million the Pittsburgh Penguins owe him in return for a piece of the team if Howard Baldwin wins the battle of the co-owners, a newspaper reported Saturday.

The franchise owes the retired hockey star about $30 million on a contract he signed in 1992. He would be willing to give up part of that in exchange for a minority stake in the team, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Lemieux would not join any owners' group, however, if that group included co-owner Roger Marino.

Baldwin and Marino have feuded for more than three months because each has indicated he would like to be the majority owner.

Marino paid $40 million last year to buy into the Penguins and reported losses of $37 million since then. He took charge of day-to-day operations in February.

Over the past few weeks, Baldwin has been gathering investors to start a new ownership group. His relationship with Lemieux has been cordial since Baldwin bought the team in 1991.

The Penguins have been sued by Lemieux; Spectacor Management Group, operators of the Civic Arena; and Fox Sports Pittsburgh for failure to make payments. Marino said the team can't survive under its contracts with those parties.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman met Monday with Baldwin, a Los Angeles movie producer, and Marino, a Boston businessman, to try to settle their feud. Bettman also met with Lemieux, but whether Lemieux joined any of the sessions with the co-owners was not clear.

Lemieux's contract contains a clause giving him the option of demanding accelerated payments if anyone other than Baldwin is the controlling owner. So, if Marino bought out Baldwin, Lemieux could insist on immediate payment of his entire contract.

Also, Fox Sports Pittsburgh has amended its lawsuit against the Penguins, saying Marino continues to try to form a TV network to air Penguins games in violation of a contract with Fox .

Fox filed an amended complaint Thursday in Allegheny County Court. It asked the court to force Marino to stop lining up TV affiliates, hiring on-air talent and lining up advertising.

The Penguins this summer signed a court agreement to honor the Fox contract, preventing the Fox lawsuit from going to trial in June.

In the agreement, the franchise also said it would pay $1.1 million in advertising revenue owed to Fox by July 17. The amended complaint said that money wasn't paid.

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