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NHL can't take control of Penguins

The NHL does not have the right to take control of the Penguins, regardless of the uncertainty that could surround the franchise if Isle of Capri Casinos is not awarded Pittsburgh's sole stand-alone slot license today by the state Gaming Control Board.

Asked via e-mail Tuesday whether the league has the right to take over a club -- specifically, the Penguins -- at any time, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly responded "No."

Asked if there had been any discussion of the league taking over the Penguins if IOC is not awarded the slots license or if a decision on the slots license is delayed, Daly also said, "No."

Last week, reports surfaced that Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie backed out of talks with the NHL to close a $175 million purchase of the Penguins in part because he balked at the league's insistence on taking control of the club if IOC was not awarded Pittsburgh's slot license or if there was a delay in the slots decision.

If IOC is awarded the slots license, it will pay $290 million over 90 days to fully fund a new, multipurpose, Uptown facility that will serve as home to the Penguins.

Balsillie is still considered a viable contender to purchase the Penguins if the club returns to the selling block after the board's decision. He told the Tribune-Review last week that his bid remained alive, although club chairman Mario Lemieux issued a terse statement Monday that declared Balsillie to be in breach of an agreement to purchase the club.

Lemieux said the club would keep Balsillie's deposit of $10 million.

Lemieux also said there had been "a lot of interest" from potential suitors in the wake of Balsillie's decision to stop negotiations with the NHL.

Apparently, a group headed by Ringgold High School graduate Jim Renacci, an Ohio businessman, will not be among those suitors.

Responding via e-mail after being asked if he could offer any update concerning a possible bid to purchase the Penguins, Renacci said, "None at this time."

A group headed by Renacci had entered discussions with the current Penguins ownership group prior to Balsillie reaching terms with the club.

When asked if he was heading a group that was close to making another bid for the Penguins, Renacci said, "Not at this time."

"The value of any asset is what someone is willing to pay for that asset," Renacci said. "Mr. Balsillie's decisions would not (affect) mine."

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