Lemieux, Penguins Partly Settle
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The Pittsburgh Penguins and former All-Star center Mario Lemieux agreed to talk about their $33 million contract dispute instead of arbitrating it and settled some of their differences.
The team said Friday that there had been agreement on ``several significant issues″ in 1 1/2 days of talks.
``We expect to continue meaningful discussions that we all hope will lead to an amicable, positive resolution,″ said Penguins co-owner Roger Marino, the defendant in Lemieux’s lawsuit.
Lemieux said that Marino, while owning half the team but essentially controlling all of it, was cheating him out of the rest of the $42 million deal he had signed with the other co-owner, Howard Baldwin, in 1992.
The deal called for Lemieux to be paid whether or not he played hockey. A back injury and cancer of the lymph nodes led to his retirement after the 1996-97 season.
Marino has said the expense of paying Lemieux while he was off the roster was hurting the Penguins’ bottom line, particularly because fewer fans are coming to games at the Civic Arena. The team has lost $37 million during the last two seasons.
Tom McMillan, a team spokesman, said there would be no elaboration on Friday’s partial settlement, including details of what remains to be resolved. Douglas Campbell, Lemieux’s attorney, also would not discuss the deal.
Lemieux also filed a grievance with the NHL player’s union and that claim was to be heard Thursday by league-appointed arbitrator John Sands. The hearing never took place because team officials began talks with Lemieux’s agent, Tom Reich.
Lemieux, the league’s first overall pick by the Penguins in 1984, won three MVP awards and led the long-struggling franchise to two Stanley Cups. He had a career total of 683 goals and 1,649 points.