PITTSBURGH (93-7 The FAN/AP) – The man who saved hockey in Pittsburgh, could be looking to sell the team.

Pittsburgh Penguins co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle have hired investment bank Morgan Stanley to explore their options.

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The owners said in a statement Wednesday night they are in the middle of a feeling out process that could include anything from an outright sale to selling a share of the team or standing pat. The hiring of Morgan Stanley was first reported by TSN.

Morgan Stanley organized the sale of the Buffalo Sabres.

Lemieux, a Hall of Famer who led the franchise to consecutive Stanley Cups as a player in 1991 and 1992, and Burkle led an investment group that purchased the team out of federal bankruptcy court in 1999.

The Penguins nearly left Pittsburgh in the 2000s before undergoing a renaissance that included the drafting of eventual MVPs Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, another Stanley Cup in 2009 and the opening of Consol Energy Center in 2010.

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In their joint statement posted to the Penguins website, Lemieux and Burkle say: “We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel. After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”

A statement from Lemieux says in part: “Regardless of what happens, I plan on staying involved with the team in some capacity, and Ron and I plan to retain an ownership stake.”

KDKA’s Bob Pompeani talked to someone close to the situation who told him there has been outside interest in “getting a piece of the pie” for several years – not unlike what the Steelers went through several years ago when they expanded their ownership group.

According to Forbes Magazine, the Penguins are now worth close to $600 million.

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