The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the verge of being sold and Waterloo-based entrepreneur and co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM) Jim Balsillie is the rumoured buyer. The Penguins have had an up and down history with great success in the early 1990s. Some of the greatest hockey players have passed through the city (Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Jaromir Jagr, etc) and they have some of the brightest young stars (Sidney Crosby
and Evgeni Malkin) in their future.
Balsillie, who is by all accounts a huge hockey fan is expected to seal the deal today and pay around $175-million (U.S.) for the Pens. The sports talk radio circuit was all over the story yesterday, with a special focus on whether the Penguins would be moved. It has been rumoured that Balsillie has been in talks with Copps Colosium in Hamilton and has also considered moving the team to the Kitchener-Waterloo area. The former options would put him against a stiff fight against the Toronto Maple Leafs and Buffalo Sabres for territorial rights. The latter may still find him under attack by the Leafs, but I have my doubts if the K-W area can support an NHL team with no real facility currently available. Which is why some recent reports of the Penguins staying put in Pittsburgh make a lot of sense.
Very belated update - so it turns out that the deal between the Penguins and Balsillie did not go through. Pittsburg's NHL team is now looking for other options with Kansas City and Oklahoma City in the mix. But the smart money says that they will eventually work something out and stay in Pittsburgh.