Mario Lemieux will investigate moving team after slot licence denied

Owner Mario Lemieux says the team is off the market and he will investigate relocating the Penguins outside Pennsylvania. “It is time to take control of our own destiny,” Lemieux said Thursday in a statement issued by the team.

Lemieux said he needs to take into consideration the long-term viability of the team and begin discussions with other cities that may be interested in an NHL franchise.

But he also said he’ll continue to investigate an arena plan in Pittsburgh.

“As soon as we are no longer restricted by our agreement with Isle of Capri from negotiating an arena deal here, in the next few weeks, we will also begin discussions with local leaders about a viable Pittsburgh arena plan,” he said.

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The team’s future in Pittsburgh is in doubt after the state Gaming Control Board denied Isle of Capri Casino a slots licence on Wednesday.

The licence was critical to the team’s survival in Pittsburgh as Isle of Capri had promised to spend US$290 million to build the team an arena.

Lemieux’s comments also come less than a week after a deal to sell the team to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie fell through.

Kansas City, Las Vegas, Houston, Portland and Winnipeg are among the cities hoping to lure an NHL team.