Originally created 05/07/99

Tuesday hearing set to review NHL plan



PITTSBURGH -- A judge scheduled an emergency hearing for Tuesday morning on the NHL's request to fold, sell and move the financially troubled Pittsburgh Penguins.

The league is using the prospect of losing the team as leverage to force its sale to its preferred buyer, former Penguins center Mario Lemieux. Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban also is interested in investing in Lemieux's group. Lemieux met Wednesday and Thursday with Cuban.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Bernard Markovitz will review the league's plan and could send it to Penguins creditors for a vote, said Greg Cribbs, a team lawyer. That night, the Penguins will play Toronto at home in the third game of a best-of-7 playoff series.

During the hearing, Markovitz also could schedule votes on Lemieux's $50 million buyout and the NHL's plan for the same day, Cribbs said Thursday.

The next full hearing in the case is June 24. But the NHL has asked for an earlier date, saying it needs to schedule the team for 1999-2000.

Markovitz told lawyers on Friday, however, that the Penguins' case deserves no special attention and is just as important as about 1,000 other cases in Bankruptcy Court.

Penguins officials say they need resolution in the case so they can begin marketing season tickets, preparing for the draft and signing free agents. The team expects to lose $10 million this year.