Pittsburgh Penguins owner Mario Lemieux credits fellow Penguins owner Ron Burkle for all of the success the franchise has enjoyed over the last decade, according to Dave Molinari of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Lemieux and Burkle partnered up to buy the Penguins in 1999 when the team was in bankruptcy.
Since then, Pittsburgh has won three Stanley Cup championships (including back-to-back titles the past two years) and has made the playoffs 13 times out of 17 seasons.
“Ron is one of the main reasons we still have hockey in Pittsburgh,” said Lemieux. “If I was not able to buy the Penguins and have Ron as our top investor, I don’t think the Penguins would be here today.”
Had Burkle not partnered with Lemieux, Lemieux probably would not have had enough to buy the franchise.
“He’s a great guy and a very smart businessman,” Lemieux said of Burkle. “He loves Pittsburgh, he loves the Penguins. I think people should know that.”
The partnership has worked well, as both men just take care of their business and don’t go out of their way to be in the public eye.
“It doesn’t serve the team any purpose or me any purpose to have a high profile,” said Burkle. “Mario is the hockey guy and he’s the Pittsburgh guy and he’s also an incredibly nice and easy-going person and everything.”
Lemieux feels the same way.
“We’re the same, in that regard,” he said. “We don’t look for the spotlight. It works well for both of us.”
Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby echoes those thoughts about the organization’s owners.
“He (Burkle) and Mario are both really supportive, but I think they do it because they care about the team,” said Crosby. “They don’t necessarily need the attention or need everything that comes with it.”