Irregardless of your views of the Pens' arena and ownership situations, you gotta give Mario Lemieux credit; He is absolutely pulling all of the right strings right now.
Once Jim Balsillie pulled out of the ownership bid, then the IOC failed to win the slots license, Mario quickly pulled the Pens off of the table, and stated that they would explore ALL options in order to secure the franchise, including those outside of Pennsylvania.
The Mayor and County Executive immediately hit the airwaves, telling anyone who would listen that the new arena deal is there for the Pens to sign, and that nearly every section of the deal is negotiable. They made it known; If the Pens left town, it wouldn't be because the city let them leave.
The Governor and the local officials then invited the Pens to a meeting in Pittsburgh tomorrow (Jan. 4th), in which the Pens accepted. In their response, they requested an afternoon meeting.
Kinda got everybody a little warm and fuzzy, ya know ?? The deal won't get done tomorrow, but ya know, a few meetings here and there, a tweak here, a tweak there, and voila, you've got yourselves a new arena deal.
Well, now we know why the Pens wanted an afternoon meeting for Thursday.
That's because Mario and the gang are in Kansas City today, doing the obligatory dog and pony show with the officials that represent the soon-to-be-completed Sprint Center.
Have to say Mario, brilliant business move, seriously, brilliant.
What a better leverage move than to have the Pens in enemy territory talking business the day before you meet with your current landlords.
Mario's gonna get his sweetheart deal for the New Igloo (hell, it's already a sweetheart deal according to some financial analysts), it's just a matter of time in my opinion.
Especially if he continues to "play the game" like he did today.