Just when it looked like things were turning around for the Pittsburgh Penguins and stability was within site....there's a swerve. The swerve this time is with potential owner Jim Balsillie, or should I say, former potential owner. According the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Balsillie has withdrew his bid to become the new owner of the Penguins; thus putting the team out on the market again. Apparently, Balsillie and the NHL couldn't reach a deal in the last minute of the consent process, thus leading Balsillie to withdraw his bid.
According to TSN's Sources, the NHL tabled the consent that Balsillie would have to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh, regardless of the circumstances. Though it's not technically dead, Balsillie and the NHL are not talking. There have been ideas of trying to eliminate the wording so Balsillie is free to do what he wants; but everything right now is in limbo.
Obviously, this isn't going to sit well with Mario Lemieux's camp, who thought this was all sign, sealed, and delivered. However, the one stumbling block that would keep anyone for seriously pursuing the team is the whole deal with gaming licenses and the new arena. Gary Bettman, understandably, would want to keep the team where they are at, so he wouldn't be facing an outcry like Winnipeg and Quebec City had. Yet in terms of reality, you can't force a market if there isn't one to be had.
The Penguins are a talented team and are one or two signings away from being a big time contender, yet there seems to be no buyers out there due to the constraints that are put in place before the sale even happens. I'm sure Balsillie didn't think much of the plan when he tabled his purchase, nor did Sam Fingold who tabled a price beforehand. Sad to say, but it seems like the lame-duck ownership, as well as the City of Pittsburgh have the Penguins held hostage. Should someone not meet their demands; the team won't be sold. Pretty craptastic business management if you ask me.
So, we get back into the fun, fun speculation on what's going to happen next for the Penguins. Who's going to be the big guns to swoop in and save the team. Mario isn't going to do it, who knows what Mark Cuban could be thinking, and we never know-- maybe the NHL will have a change of heart and realize that if there's not a market in Pittsburgh, it's just best to let it go.