Report: Canadian brewery owner interested in Pens

Updated: December 17, 2006, 1:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Toronto businessman Frank D'Angelo, who failed in an attempt to become an owner of a new Canadian Football League franchise in Ottawa, has turned his interest to the NHL.

According to a report in the Ottawa Citizen, the Steelback Brewery owner said he and billionaire partner Dr. Barry Sherman are interested in buying the Pittsburgh Penguins.

D'Angelo told the newspaper they discussed the situation during a six-hour meeting Friday and decided to pursue a purchase.

"We are going to be pursuing every avenue to get into the sports business, and what better way then to invest in a great franchise like the Pittsburgh Penguins," D'Angelo said. "We want to go in there, buy the team, and make sure it has a proper home. The City of Pittsburgh deserves to keep its team."

The fate of the Penguins was tossed back into the air Friday, when Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie walked away from his proposed deal.

Balsillie, whose company makes the BlackBerry wireless messaging device, had signed an agreement on Oct. 5 to buy the Penguins from Lemieux's group for about $175 million. The deal was expected to be finalized any day.

But talks between Balsillie and the NHL, which must approve the purchase, broke down and Balsillie issued a notice of termination Friday, the team said.

D'Angelo said told the newspaper he and Sherman, chief executive of drug maker Apotex Inc., were trying to set up a meeting with Penguins chief executive officer Ken Sawyer via Phil Esposito, the Hockey Hall of Fame inductee who has appeared in several advertisements for D'Angelo's Steelback beer.

"Steelback beer in Steeltown, what an incredible fit," D'Angelo said.

Balsillie had said he was committed to keeping the team in Pittsburgh -- a condition the NHL had all but mandated as long as a new arena is built.

On Friday, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman repeated warnings that the Penguins' future in Pittsburgh is uncertain if the Isle of Capri casino chain is not awarded a license to build a slots parlor in the city.

"If the Isle of Capri is not granted the license on Wednesday, then an already volatile situation will be aggravated," he said. "It is imperative that the Penguins have a new arena on economic terms that make sense for the franchise and for the team to remain in Pittsburgh."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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