For 24 years, the Pittsburgh Penguins tried to win a Stanley Cup. Now that they've finally won it, they'll spend the next 21/2 months trying to keep this championship team together.
They'll lose one player in Thursday's expansion draft, and could lose three key players - Kevin Stevens, Mark Recchi and Ron Francis - to free agency.But team owner Edward DeBartolo said Tuesday he won't let a few bucks break up the first title team in the Penguins' quarter-century of mostly horrible hockey.
"We're going to renegotiate with our players," DeBartolo said. "We want to keep people in our organization."
The price to break up the Penguins - or buy them - will be high. It might cost the Penguins $1 million a year to re-sign Stevens, one of the NHL's most dominating left wings. And DeBartolo said it will cost $65 million to $75 million to pry the Penguins away from him.
DeBartolo, a multimillionaire real estate developer from Youngstown, Ohio, reportedly put the team up for sale several months ago after his DeBartolo Corp. experienced cash flow problems.
The Penguins' first title, he concedes, makes it less likely he'll sell - and much more costly should he decided to sell.
"A lot of people said . . . they wanted to buy, but right now we're not negotiating to sell," he said.
DeBartolo has never has been as enthusiastic about hockey as his son, Eddie Jr., is about his four-time Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers. But the elder DeBartolo said winning a Stanley Cup more than makes up his estimated losses of $25 million in 14 years of ownership.