Mario wants Pens to stay

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

UNIONVILLE -- It would be easy for Mario Lemieux to just turn his back on the city of Pittsburgh, sling his beloved golf clubs over his famous shoulders and walk into the sunset.

But that's not the way Super Mario sees the impending sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins playing out.

Speaking at the Bell Celebrity Classic at Angus Glen yesterday, Lemieux said he remains committed to finding a buyer who would keep the long-time NHL team in the Steel City.

"It's where the team belongs," Lemieux said yesterday as he prepared to tee off at the charitable tourney, which raises funds for the Sick Kids foundation.

Samuel Fingold, a real estate developer from Hartford who grew up in Toronto, is believed to be the leading candidate in the bidding.

Fingold has ties to Kansas City, which is seeking an NHL or NBA tenant for its new arena.

Another apparent bidder, reported to be Boston-area businessman Lawrence Gottesdiener, has expressed interest in relocating the team to Hartford.

"(Moving) is always possible, but I think the priority is keeping it where it is," Lemieux said.

Asked about reports that the group led by Mark Cuban and Dan Marino had pulled out, the Magnificent One replied: "I think they still are in the running."

Looking tanned and healthy, Lemieux said his recovery from a heart procedure back in February is going well.

"I'm feeling good," said Lemieux, the team's part-owner.

Lemieux is optimistic about the team's chances, especially with second overall pick Jordan Staal joining Sidney Crosby as part of the team's nucleus.

"(Staal) is a great kid," Lemieux said. "As for Sidney, he's just going to keep getting better."

AROUND THE NHL

NHLers yesterday scoffed at comments from former San Jose Shark Andrei Nazarov claiming 99% of enforcers are on steroids. "Where is the proof?" Maple Leafs defenceman Bryan McCabe said. "All the testing last season and no one was found to use performance enhancers. Shouldn't that tell you something?" ... The Edmonton Oilers signed Ales Hemsky to a six-year, $24.6-million US deal ... The Dallas Stars awarded general manager Doug Armstrong with a three-year contract extension ... The New York Islanders have accepted an arbitrator's decision that gave Mike York a one-year, $2.85-million deal ... New Jersey Devils forward Scott Gomez was awarded a $5-million, one-year contract by an arbitrator.


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