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Report Gives Clue To Mario's Woes

The disputed contract for retired Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux is valid even if the NHL voids it, a newspaper reported Monday.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said the 13-page contract, which was signed in 1992, guarantees salaries, bonuses and other payments to Lemieux beyond the authority of the league office.

The deal also includes an unusual "rights" payment that could be the source of the lawsuit that Lemieux is threatening against Penguins co-owner Roger Marino, according to the newspaper.

A notice of the coming lawsuit was filed last month in Allegheny County Court.

The deal gives Lemieux $2 million payments on New Year's Day of 1997 and 1998.

The threatened lawsuit centers on missed payments in January 1997 and January 1998, Lemieux's agent, Tom Reich, has said. He has not specified what the payments were, however.

The contract employs Lemieux as a "special adviser" to Penguins co-owner Howard Baldwin for 10 years beginning Jan. 1, 2000. The annual salary for the position is $500,000.

Lemieux keeps the job "so long as Mr. Baldwin shall remain as chief executive and controlling shareholder."

At the time it was signed, the overall value of the deal was reported at $42 million over six years, although reports since have indicated numerous deferred payments.

©1998 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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