Under the leadership of Lemieux and co-owner Ron Burkle, the Penguins have become one of the premier franchises in the NHL and in all of sports, leading the way in fan relations, youth marketing, community outreach and innovative technology while consistently putting a winning product on the ice – including six straight playoff appearances and a Stanley Cup championship in 2009.
The Penguins entered the 2012-13 season having sold out 254 straight games while setting new standards for local television ratings, merchandise sales, website traffic and social media.
Lemieux and Burkle were driving forces in the quest for a new multi-purpose arena for Pittsburgh and were proud to open CONSOL Energy Center in August, 2010. The sparkling facility is rated one of the top facilities in North America and hosted such national events as the 2012 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Second and Third Rounds and the 2012 NHL Draft.
Known as “Le Magnifique,” Lemieux was one of the greatest players in NHL history from 1984-97 and 2000-06, winning six league scoring titles, three MVP awards and two Conn Smythe Trophies in addition to two Stanley Cups.
An immaculately gifted 6-foot-4 centerman, he dominated play for parts of three decades despite a relentless series of medical setbacks, including multiple back surgeries and a battle with Hodgkin’s disease. He retired in 2006 as the No. 7 all-time scorer in NHL history with 1,723 points. He also ranked eighth all-time in goals (690) and 10th in assists (1,033).
After retiring as a player in 1997, he put together an ownership group to buy the Penguins out of bankruptcy in September, 1999 and then returned to the ice on Dec. 27, 2000 – becoming the first player-owner of the modern era.
In addition to his legendary hockey accomplishments, he continues to oversee the Mario Lemieux Foundation for cancer research and neo-natal research and hosts its annual celebrity golf tournament, which has raised more than $9 million for charity. More information is available at mariolemieux.org.
The Penguins ownership group, local labor organizations and members of the Pittsburgh business community honored Lemieux in 2012 with a statue to commemorate his career and contributions to the city and the region. Appropriately named “Le Magnifique,” the statue, by nationally-acclaimed sculptor Bruce Wolfe, can be seen outside the Trib Total Media gate at CONSOL Energy Center.
Mario and his wife, Nathalie, and their three children live in Sewickley.
Ron Burkle, one of the preeminent investors in retail, manufacturing and distribution industries, is in his 14th season as co-owner of the Penguins.
He teamed with Mario Lemieux to buy the team out of bankruptcy in September, 1999, and together they have become one of the outstanding ownership tandems in professional sports.
Among Burkle’s many significant contributions to the Penguins was his essential role in negotiations for a new arena. CONSOL Energy Center is considered one of the finest indoor facilities in North America and has attracted many national-level events to Pittsburgh – including the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four, coming in April, 2013.
Under the leadership of Lemieux and Burkle, the Penguins have sold out every game for five-plus seasons and consistently rank among the most fan-friendly and community-minded teams in the NHL and all of pro sports.
The Penguins reached back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals in 2008 and 2009 and won the Cup in ‘09. The team’s solid foundation of ownership has enabled hockey management to spend to the salary cap, sign many of the team’s young core players to long-term contracts and put a competitive team on the ice year after year – leading to six straight playoff berths.
Burkle founded the Yucaipa Companies in 1986 and has served as Chairman of the Board and controlling shareholder of numerous companies, including Alliance Entertainment, Golden State Foods, Dominick’s, Fred Meyer, Ralphs and Food4Less.
Ron is Co-Chairman of the Burkle Center for International Relations at UCLA and is broadly involved in the community. He is a trustee of the Carter Center, the National Urban League, Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy and AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA). Ron was the Founder and Chairman of the Ralph’s/Food4Less Foundation and the Fred Meyer Inc. Foundation. He was a member of the board of Occidental Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: OXY), KB Home (NYSE: KBH), Kaufman & Broad S.A. (Euronext: KOF), Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO), the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Music Center and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
He has received numerous honors and awards, including the AFL-CIO’s Murray Green Meany Kirkland Community Service Award, the Los Angeles County Federation Man of the Year, the Los Angeles County Boy Scouts Jimmy Stewart Person of the Year Award and the APLA Commitment to Life Award.
David Morehouse has established himself as one of the most dynamic senior executives in the National Hockey League.