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Penguins Lemeiux's comeback helps team turn profit

Friday, May 11, 2001

By Dave Molinari, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Having Mario Lemieux come out of retirement helped to make the Penguins a force in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

And a financial success.

It did not matter that the Penguins won Game 7 of their second-round series with Buffalo last night, Lemieux -- their primary owner and No. 1 center -- said the franchise will turn a profit this season.

"I think we're going to make money," he said. "Probably two or three million [dollars]."

Finishing in the black, though, apparently won't have a significant impact on how much the Penguins will be willing to spend to retain their many free agents this summer.

"If we go more than two rounds, obviously we make a little bit of money," Lemieux said. "But if we make a million or two, or lose a million or two, it's not going to affect what we do [for] next year."

The Penguins attracted standing-room crowds of 17,148 to each of their six home games during the first two rounds of the playoffs, and never played before anything less than a full house at Mellon Arena after Lemieux ended his retirement Dec. 27.

Tom Rooney, the Penguins' chief operating officer, estimated recently that having Lemieux resume his playing career generated $3.5 million in additional revenue for the franchise.

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