Lemieux to get $21M in Pens bankruptcy settlement

Updated: October 20, 2007, 9:13 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Mario Lemieux will get $21 million as part of the team's settlement of its 1998 bankruptcy.

"He's finally getting paid from his playing contract that he signed in 1992," team spokesman Tom McMillan said Friday.

Lemieux was owed $32 million in deferred compensation from that contract when he retired as a player in 1997. But the team filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection the next year, after running up $120 million in debt under former owners Howard Baldwin and Roger Marino.

Lemieux put together a group that purchased the bankrupt team and agreed to discount his debt claim to $25 million. Lemieux took a $20 million equity stake in the team and was paid $5 million, which he also invested in the franchise.

Lemieux won't get additional money from his playing contract and is believed to be the only unsecured creditor to get less than 100 percent of money owed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported Friday.

California businessman Ron Burkle, who shares control of the franchise with Lemieux, and the other investors who purchased a piece of it when it came out of bankruptcy in 1999 will be given varying percentages of their original outlay as part of a refinancing of the team completed this week.

Penguins CEO Ken Sawyer talked about the deal at the team's morning skate and McMillan confirmed the details later in the day.

The distribution of money comes with a stipulation that if the team experiences major financial problems, the investors must put their money back into the franchise.

The refinancing will not affect the ownership structure of the team.

Lemieux could not immediately be reached for comment.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press