PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Mario Lemieux has asked an arbitrator to order the Pittsburgh Penguins to pay him $33 million.

Lemieux, an eight-time NHL All-Star center, is contending that he should be paid immediately because co-owner Roger Marino has taken over control of the hockey team.

Lemieux filed a grievance last spring with the players union. One of Lemieux's attorneys said his contract contains a clause that calls for immediate payment if someone other than Howard Baldwin takes over the Penguins.

``We're entitled to (the money) because the team is managed by someone other than Howard Baldwin. Someone has assumed operating control of the team,'' lawyer Douglas Campbell said.

Neither Lemieux nor agent Tom Reich would comment prior to an arbitration hearing on his grievance Thursday before NHL-appointed arbitrator John Sands of Pittsburgh.

The hearing was actually a less formal negotiation session, which was to continue today. No quick resolution was expected.

``These things take quite a while,'' Reich said.

On paper, Baldwin and Marino are equal partners, and Marino said Wednesday that there has been no change in the relationship.

Still, the two have offered to buy each other out, and Marino has taken on more day-to-day decision-making since he paid $40 million to buy into the team 16 months ago. The team has lost $37.5 million during the last two years.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has attempted to mediate the ownership dispute, so far unsuccessfully.

Lemieux has also demanded his $33 million in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court, claiming he should be paid immediately because Marino has refused to make deferred payments due under the $42 million contract the hockey star signed with Baldwin in 1992.