M A R I O
C O - O W N E R / C H A I R M A N
R O N
C O - O W N E R
Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest players in
NHL history, with two Stanley Cups, six NHL scoring
titles, three MVP awards, two Conn Smythe Trophies,
a Calder Trophy, a Masterton Trophy — and an
Olympic gold medal for good measure.
Now, he’s also established himself as one of the
league’s greatest owners.
Lemieux and co-owner Ron Burkle led the
Penguins to three Stanley Cups in a nine-year span
between 2009 and 2017, giving Mario more Cups as
an owner than he won as a player.
Lemieux and Burkle organized a group of
investors that bought the Penguins out of
bankruptcy in 1999. The combination of Lemieux’s
hockey acumen and Burkle’s business savvy made
them a formidable front office tandem and led to
a series of spectacular achievements both on and
off the ice.
The Penguins, during that time, have become
one of the premier franchises 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. That includes qualifying for the playoffs for 12
straight seasons — the longest current streak in the
NHL — and reaching the Cup Final four times and the
conference finals five times in the past 11 years.
The Penguins entered the 2018-19 season
having sold out every game for 11-plus seasons
while setting high standards for television ratings,
corporate sales and social media.
Lemieux and Burkle were driving forces in the
quest for a new multi-purpose arena, which opened
in August, 2010. PPG Paints Arena is considered
one of the top facilities in North America and has
hosted such national events as the 2012, 2015 and
2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament opening
rounds, the 2012 NHL Draft, the 2013 NCAA Frozen
Four, the 2014 USA Gymnastics Championships and
the 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup Finals. NCAA national
championships in wrestling and women’s volleyball
will be held here in 2019.
Lemieux also helped to launch the UPMC Lemieux
Sports Complex in nearby Cranberry, PA. Now in its
fourth year of operation, the practice home of the
Penguins is the first facility of its kind to combine
hockey with a world-class medical center and sports
As a player, “Le Magnifique” was a gifted 6-foot-4
centerman who dominated play for parts of three
decades. Although he faced a numbing 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 for the first time 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 December 27, 2000 —
becoming the first player-owner of the modern era.
He also captained Team Canada to an Olympic gold
medal in 2002.
In addition to his legendary hockey
accomplishments, he continues to oversee the Mario
Lemieux Foundation, which has raised more than
$25 million for charity. More information is available
Mario and his wife, Nathalie, have raised four
children and reside in Sewickley.
Ron Burkle, one of the preeminent investors
in retail, hospitality, technology and distribution
industries, is also a three-time Stanley Cup
champion as co-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Burkle teamed with Mario Lemieux to buy the
team out of bankruptcy in September, 1999, and
together they have become one of the outstanding
ownership duos in professional sports, winning three
Cups from 2009-17.
Among Burkle’s many significant contributions to
the Penguins was his essential role in negotiations
for a new arena. PPG Paints Arena is considered
one of the finest indoor facilities in North America
and has attracted many national-level events to
Pittsburgh, including NCAA basketball and hockey.
But he also helped create a winning mindset for the
Penguins organization both on and off the ice.
Although Burkle prefers to operate quietly and
behind the scenes, Lemieux praises his immense
role in the team’s success.
“Ron is one of the main reasons we still have
hockey in Pittsburgh,” Lemieux told the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette. “If I was not able to buy the Penguins
and have Ron as our top investor, I don’t think the
Penguins would be here today. He’s a great guy and
a very smart businessman. He loves Pittsburgh, he
loves the Penguins. I think people should know that.”
Under the leadership of Lemieux and Burkle,
the Penguins have sold out every game for 11-plus
seasons and consistently ranked among the most
fan-friendly and community-minded teams in the
NHL and all of pro sports.
The Penguins have earned 12 straight playoff
berths and reached the conference finals five
times in the past 11 years, in addition to the three
Cups. The team’s solid foundation of ownership has
enabled hockey management to spend to the salary
cap, sign many of the team’s core players to longterm
contracts and put a competitive team on the
ice year after year.
Burkle founded the Yucaipa Companies
in 1986 and has served as Chairman of the
Board and controlling shareholder of numerous
companies, including Americold, Soho House,
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 member of the
Board of The Scripps Research Institute, the National
Urban League and Frank Lloyd Wright Conservancy.
He is a trustee of the Carter Center, and AIDS Project
Los Angeles (APLA). Ron was the Founder and
Chairman of the Ralphs/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.