Reports: Pittsburgh Penguins owners in 'advanced' talks to sell franchise

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It's expected that Mario Lemieux will stay with the organization in a similar role that he occupies now. (Getty)
It's expected that Mario Lemieux will stay with the organization in a similar role that he occupies now. (Getty)

Just over the two decades since the Pittsburgh Penguins were rescued from financial ruin, its owners are ready to cash in.

As first reported by the Wall Street Journal and furthered by several other outlets, Fenway Sports Group, which owns the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool F.C., and part of the RFK Racing NASCAR team, are in talks to purchase the Penguins, who were last valued at well over $800 million.

Elliotte Friedman described the talks as "advanced" on the Jeff Marek Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday afternoon.

Any sale would have to be approved by the NHL's Board of Governors.

It's believed that the deal will see co-owner Ron Burkle move on from the franchise entirely, while his partner and franchise legend, Mario Lemieux, will stay with the organization in a similar minority-owner/decision-making role. It's believed other top executives will stick around in the immediate term as well.

It has been reported that Burkle has taken a considerable hit financially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It's probably too soon to talk about how an ownership change might impact the team, but the franchise is heading toward something of a transition anyway. Second-to-last in the Metropolitan Division, and with four key pending unrestricted free agents on the roster including Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang, it seems plausible that the Penguins start into a rebuild before the season is through.

Sidney Crosby, for what it's worth, has three more seasons after this one on his deal, and is not believed to be interested in ever playing elsewhere.

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is among those involved in the star-studded Fenway Sports Group. With a baseball team, a global football titan, and now potentially a successful hockey franchise checked off the list, perhaps FSG turns its attention next to acquiring an NBA team as part of its growing portfolio.

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