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Lemieux, Burkle, and the future of the Pens


brelic

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Interesting, in-depth article on THW.

http://thehockeywriters.com/pittsburgh-penguins-mario-lemieux-ron-burkle-future/

 

What is your take on it?

 

Here's the setup for the three-part story:
 

Pittsburgh Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle are very different people.
 
Both go to great lengths to sidestep the media. Both have significant amounts of money. Neither has a college degree. And that’s about as far as the similarities go.
 
The two personalities seemingly couldn’t be more different.
 
I initially started to read about Lemieux and Burkle last May after the two men came out from the shadows to discuss the surprising firing of former Penguins GM Ray Shero.  In sitdown interviews with Pittsburgh media personalities, the pair presented themselves as a united front just as any PR playbook would recommend.
 
But who are these men?
 
What do the public breadcrumbs tell us about their personalities and business dealings?
 
Did they just stumble upon a Sidney Crosby lottery ball one day back in 2005 or did they have some kind of magic touch that took a franchise from the ashes of bankruptcy to the peak of the hockey mountain?
 
Much of the following was originally written in May as the second part of my series called ‘The Rise and Fall of Ray Shero’s Pittsburgh Penguins‘.  I wanted to try to piece together the role Lemieux and Burkle played in Shero’s demise, but soon realized the story was bigger than Shero.
 
It wasn’t about a General Manager’s rapid fall from untouchable status, or Sidney Crosby, or even bad bounces against the Boston Bruins.
 
The Penguins are limping into the 2015 playoffs with low expectations and a frustrated fanbase.  Another early playoff exit will probably mean more change in the form of lost jobs and reactionary player trades.
 
It might also mean the end of the Lemieux-Burkle era of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
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@brelic

 

excellent read.  Very fascinating.  One line already struck me....

 

"The funny thing is, loyal people often have the biggest blind spots."

 

Can this be said of our own team.  We joke about the good ol' boys, but truth be hold, this team is always promoting from withing and hanging on to the good ol' days.  Anyway just a very striking statement..... gonna  have to finish the article before commenting more.

 

EDIT: So I finished reading the article.  SO is it the intend of the author to say that there is some discord in the Pens front office?  Is there a possibility that the Pens other owner, Burkle, may want out?  Very curious article.

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@brelic

 

excellent read.  Very fascinating.  One line already struck me....

 

"The funny thing is, loyal people often have the biggest blind spots."

 

Can this be said of our own team.  We joke about the good ol' boys, but truth be hold, this team is always promoting from withing and hanging on to the good ol' days.  Anyway just a very striking statement..... gonna  have to finish the article before commenting more.

 

 

Very good point, doc. That is a huge blindspot for the Flyers org.

 

The other thing that struck me is something I've just taken for granted as a Flyers fan - and that's the financial well-being of the org. We never have to worry about ownership and finances.

 

 

Back to the article, I thought it was a nice behind-the-scenes look at some of the important decisions that get made, and how little context we as fans usually have. Fans and the media have come to treat coaches, players, and even GMs as commodities, like chess pieces, simply to be moved around a board at will. But they are people with friends, families, teammates, and I think this article did a nice job at bringing that element to the forefront.

 

It will probably be another interesting - and possibly tumultuous - offseason for the Pens.

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The other thing that struck me is something I've just taken for granted as a Flyers fan - and that's the financial well-being of the org. We never have to worry about ownership and finances.

 

It will probably be another interesting - and possibly tumultuous - offseason for the Pens.

 

the Flyers are extremely lucky when it comes to financial security. Totally agree.  See my EDIT comments since you posted before you probably saw my EDIT comments.

 

I think if the Pens miss the playoffs all together, things are about to get real ugly real quick.  One has to realize that you can't wrap up 1/2 of your cap space into 5 or 6 players.  Having 2 mega-superstars (Malkin, Crosby and I will throw MAF in the mix too) is both a blessing and curse.  You need to have manueverbility aroung the cap to accquire the right supporting cast.  I'm curious to see how this all plays out. 

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EDIT: So I finished reading the article.  SO is it the intend of the author to say that there is some discord in the Pens front office?  Is there a possibility that the Pens other owner, Burkle, may want out?  Very curious article.

 

I'm not sure he's saying there's discord - only that because of timing and the state of the Pens' franchise, it's conceivable for Burkle to activate an exit plan based on protecting profits and moving money elsewhere, and for Mario to move on to life after hockey. That would usher in a new era.

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I'm not sure he's saying there's discord - only that because of timing and the state of the Pens' franchise, it's conceivable for Burkle to activate an exit plan based on protecting profits and moving money elsewhere, and for Mario to move on to life after hockey. That would usher in a new era.

 

That would definitely change the perspective of the team...to suddenly have your 2 primary owners move on.  The reason I mentioned discord, was the thought present that Mario seemed to have wanted Shero to stay while others wanted him gone.  I agree with your earlier statement, it is fascinating to see the behind the scenes look so to speak.

 

EDIT:  I am interested in hearing what our resident Pen fans think of the article. Polaris / b21 / Noss..care to chime in?

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You need to have manueverbility aroung the cap to accquire the right supporting cast.  I'm curious to see how this all plays out. 

 

Well, it's hard to say.

 

The top 5 Hawks players make a combined $29.5M - which is 43% of the $69M cap.  Next year with the new Kane and Toews contracts, that top 5 will cost $39.6M - which is 57% of a $69M cap.  And those top 5 hits doesn't include Seabrook who is due a new contract after next season.

 

The top 5 Pens players make a combined $35.45M - which is 51% of the $69M cap.

 

We'll see how the top-heavy contracts affect the Hawks going forward.

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@brelic

 

Great find and a very interesting read. All the signs - at least from Lemieux's perspective - point to an "exit" in the next three to five years (give or take).   The youngest finishing high school. The house in Montreal. If you are going to sell it makes sense to sell at peak value: i.e. - while Crosby and Malkin are still in their primes.  Once those two move on, who knows.

 

As for Burkle, most of what the author said about his thought process is speculative.  My hunch is that is how Burkle likes things. From a business point of view, it makes sense for him to sell at peak value as well.

 

It will be a tumultuous offseason if they miss the playoffs or suffer another early exit but I think we are a few more years away from the possibility of an ownership change.

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Well, it's hard to say.

 

The top 5 Hawks players make a combined $29.5M - which is 43% of the $69M cap.  Next year with the new Kane and Toews contracts, that top 5 will cost $39.6M - which is 57% of a $69M cap.  And those top 5 hits doesn't include Seabrook who is due a new contract after next season.

 

The top 5 Pens players make a combined $35.45M - which is 51% of the $69M cap.

 

We'll see how the top-heavy contracts affect the Hawks going forward.

 

I was actually think of the Hawks too as I was typing that.  I know the lengthy thread that ensued once the terms of the both Kanes and Toews contracts were made known.   Gonna need to watch the off season transactions real close. 

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@brelic

@pilldoc

 

So long as the payers taking up such a large percentage of the cap are actually worth their salary, that's a problem I would think any NHL GM would want and I will argue until I am blue in the face that it is just as hard to build a contender with that kind of talent and limited cap space versus a roster where the top 4-5 players are a little less talented but also not quite as well paid.  A smart GM can work with either and the Cup winners of the last 6-7 years prove that.

 

Top heavy? Pens. Hawks.

 

More balanced? Bruins. Kings.

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@brelic

@pilldoc

 

So long as the payers taking up such a large percentage of the cap are actually worth their salary, that's a problem I would think any NHL GM would want and I will argue until I am blue in the face that it is just as hard to build a contender with that kind of talent and limited cap space versus a roster where the top 4-5 players are a little less talented but also not quite as well paid.  A smart GM can work with either and the Cup winners of the last 6-7 years prove that.

 

Top heavy? Pens. Hawks.

 

More balanced? Bruins. Kings.

 

 

Yes, totally agree. There's more than one way to build a cup team, and I would actually think it's harder to do with top-heavy rosters like the Pens. The Hawks have now hit that reality as well, and I would guess their Cup winning days are over for a while. They have a lot of players expiring this year and next, so could have a high roster turnover to accommodate the inflated salaries.

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Yes, totally agree. There's more than one way to build a cup team, and I would actually think it's harder to do with top-heavy rosters like the Pens. The Hawks have now hit that reality as well, and I would guess their Cup winning days are over for a while. They have a lot of players expiring this year and next, so could have a high roster turnover to accommodate the inflated salaries.

 

the only way a top heavy team can compete year in and year out, IMHO, would be to have younger players to step in immediately AND who are ready to contribute.  I know the Hawks have some real good prospects in their pipeline.

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Yes, totally agree. There's more than one way to build a cup team, and I would actually think it's harder to do with top-heavy rosters like the Pens. The Hawks have now hit that reality as well, and I would guess their Cup winning days are over for a while. They have a lot of players expiring this year and next, so could have a high roster turnover to accommodate the inflated salaries.

 

I wouldn't say more difficult.  Just different.  I just don't by the assertion that if you have players like Kane/Toews or Crosby/Malkin you have to make a Cup final every year or your season is a failure.  I'm just as curious to see how the Hawks manage next year but that is a management team I trust if I am a Hawks fan. Keeping Kane and Toews probably costs them Seabrook but if they draft well, maybe there is a replacement ready and waiting.

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I just don't by the assertion that if you have players like Kane/Toews or Crosby/Malkin you have to make a Cup final every year or your season is a failure.

 

From a rational point of view, you're absolutely right. There are 29 other teams fighting for the same thing, and dynasties just don't exist anymore, having been replaced with surprising parity.

 

But from the fan or media point of view, those expectations are very real and can push organizations to make irrational decisions.

 

When Crosby and Malkin leave the league, and you look back and see they've brought a Cup to Pittsburgh, would you view that as a success or a failure? 

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From a rational point of view, you're absolutely right. There are 29 other teams fighting for the same thing, and dynasties just don't exist anymore, having been replaced with surprising parity.

 

But from the fan or media point of view, those expectations are very real and can push organizations to make irrational decisions.

 

When Crosby and Malkin leave the league, and you look back and see they've brought a Cup to Pittsburgh, would you view that as a success or a failure? 

 

One Cup only? Failure "to be determined".  The big picture? Even more of a failure due to (up to this point) falling short in the playoffs so many times.  It's not all on them.  There have been injuries. Hot goaltenders. Lost composure. You name it.  I just think it's reasonable to have expected a few more playoff series at this point?

 

That being said, all this talk of the window closing is a little premature.  I think the core of Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Fleury has 3 or 4 more seasons where - with the right pieces around them (or the right coach?) - can be the core of a Cup contender. 

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One Cup only? Failure "to be determined".  The big picture? Even more of a failure due to (up to this point) falling short in the playoffs so many times.  It's not all on them.  There have been injuries. Hot goaltenders. Lost composure. You name it.  I just think it's reasonable to have expected a few more playoff series at this point?

 

Sure, that's a fair expectation.

 


That being said, all this talk of the window closing is a little premature.

 

Oh for sure. That's not what I was suggesting.

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From what I understand, this article is complete BS. Nothing here is from Burkle or Lemieux. Kovacevic has had sit downs as recently as May 16th with both of them and steadfastly says these two are as on the same page as it gets.

If an article like this cane with quotes or some form if inside info is out weight into it. But nothing in this article rings of any more than speculation.

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