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Lightning Round: Fenway Sports Management in line to buy Pittsburgh Penguins

For the first time since 2019 (the Arizona Coyotes) it looks like a NHL team is going to be sold. According to the Wall Street Journal the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to change owners. The Fenway Sports Group, headed by John Henry (pictured above), is reportedly in “advanced talks” to purchase the Penguins.

FSG, whose investors include NBA legend LeBron James and Interscope Records founder Jimmy Iovine, currently own the Boston Red Sox, Liverpool Football Club, 50% of Roush Fenway Racing, and various real estate properties. Adding a NHL club to their portfolio could be a wise investment for the investment group.

According to the reports it looks like the Penguins current majority owner, Ron Burkle, would sell off all of his shares while Mario Lemieux would maintain a minority stake in the new ownership group. Burkle and Lemieux purchased the club back in 1999 for about $150,000,000 while it was going through bankruptcy proceedings. Burkle should see a pretty good return on his investment as the organization is currently valued at about $650 million by Forbes.

Other than Burkle leaving there doesn’t seem to be any other changes among the club’s hierarchy. GM Ron Hextall and head coach Mike Sullivan are expected to stick around. Rumors have circulated for a few years that Burkle was looking to sell and it’s possible that the team’s recent legal issues may have hastened his willingness to agree to a deal.

Things aren’t finalized yet, and with big deals like this there is always a chance it may fall through. It’ll be interesting to see a Boston based group owning a team in Pittsburgh, but it’s not likely that they will threaten to move the team or anything. Plus, it’s always nice to have an owner with pretty deep pockets (a reported value of $7.35 billion) running things.

There is a slight tie-in to the Lightning. Tampa Bay owner Jeff Vinik was a partner with Fenway Sports Group and a minority owner in the Red Sox up until 2019 when he sold his interest. At the time he was relaunching his hedge fund. Had he not done that, chances are that he would have had to sell his stake in FSG prior to them purchasing the Penguins.

Lightning / NHL News

Lightning player of the week: Andrei Vasilevskiy [Tampa Bay Lightning]

The Vezina-caliber goaltender seems to be rounding into shape as he was one of the main reasons the Lightning picked up points in both of their games last week. It keeps his run going during the team’s 8-game point streak as he’s gone 5-0-2 with a .947 SV% while saving 5.97 goals above expected. That’s pretty darn good.

Student gives prosthesis project a Lightning-themed touch [Tampa Bay Times]

Adam Kramer is finishing up his studies at the International Institute of Orthotics and Prosthetics and as his final project he designed a Brayden Point-themed above-the-knee prosthetic for David Caras, a Lightning fan from St. Petersburg.

What we’ve learned during the Lightning’s measuring-stick stretch [The Athletic]

The Bolts picked up five out of six points as they ran the gauntlet over the last seven days playing three teams they faced in the playoffs last season. With their current run of banking points, coupled with a cold streak for the Florida Panthers, they are now just four points out of first place.

Rick Peckham was in Toronto this week to accept the Foster Hewitt Award from the Hockey Hall of Fame. He also ended up doing a little unexpected radio work. With the Nashville Predators play-by-play guy, Pete Weber, feeling ill and not able to make the trip to Canada, Peckham filled in for him.

Anthony Cirelli scored a goal, got into a fight, and took a puck to the face in the game against the New York Islanders. Alex Killorn showed off what happens when a frozen piece of rubber smacks into a players face. If you’re squeamish you may want to scroll down.

Tyler Bird Named Inglasco/ECHL Player of the Week [ECHL]

After three weeks in Syracuse, Bird returned to Orlando and had himself a week. He put up 7 points (5 goals, 2 assists) in 5 games for the Solar Bears. That was good enough to earn Player of the Week honors from the league.

Is it too late for Jim Benning to make the changes the Canucks need? [Nucks Misconduct]

Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning met with Vancouver ownership on Tuesday. Based on how they’ve performed this season, chances are it wasn’t a sunshine and rainbows meeting. The bigger question is, “How did Benning make it this long?”

Leafs acquire forward Kyle Clifford for future considerations [Pension Plan Puppets]

Traaaaaaaaaadddddeee! Look, it’s not the sexiest trade in the world, but it’s a trade. Clifford had cleared waivers so the Toronto Maple Leafs will be able to assign him to the AHL Marlies where he can add some veteran leadership and toughness.

Podcasts, Podcasts, Podcasts

Some Lighting-related audio to help while away your day:

Syracuse Speaks – Alex talks about the Crunch’s early season and establishing their identity.

Block Party – Seth Kushner chats with Alex Barre-Boulet about nicknames, his time in Seattle, and how he received his Stanley Cup ring.

The Puck Stories – JustinG. rambles on about the Art Williams Era of the Lightning.