Ken Sawyer, who along with Mario Lemieux, led the Penguins through some of the darkest times in their history and transformed them into one of the premier NHL organizations will retire later this year.
Sawyer joined the Penguins as executive vice president when co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle bought the team in 1999, was named president in 2003 and has led the organization as CEO since 2006. During his tenure the Penguins emerged from the depths of bankruptcy to become one of the hottest tickets in the NHL, with a sellout streak of more than 150 games, while reaching back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals and winning the Cup in 2009. His crowning achievement was the development and construction of Pittsburgh’s spectacular new arena, expected to open in August.
David Morehouse, who has served as the team’s president since 2007, will assume Ken Sawyer’s duties on August 31, 2009 and serve in a dual role of CEO and President.
“Ken Sawyer has done a phenomenal job for this city and this organization, and even in retirement he always will be a Pittsburgh Penguin,” team owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle said in a joint statement today. “Ken guided us through the early years of our ownership, provided strong and steady leadership during the uncertainty of the NHL lockout and laid the financial groundwork for our success on the ice as well as the new Consol Energy Center. The fact that this remarkable new arena will be completed on time and on budget is a testament to his vision and management skills.”
Sawyer had spent 14 years serving as Chief Financial Officer of the National Hockey League. He also has experience as a consultant and will serve still be available to the Penguins in that way.
The Penguins weren’t the only ones who had glowing praise for Sawyer; NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was equally effusive.
“When you think of Ken Sawyer, you think of stability, of success, of commitment to the community,” said Bettman. “When you think of the Pittsburgh Penguins, you think of the same things. It’s no coincidence. The National Hockey League thanks Ken for his decades of distinguished service and sends its best wishes for a long, happy and healthy retirement.”
“With Ken’s retirement, David is the ideal person to lead the Penguins forward into this exciting new era, symbolized by the Consol Energy Center,” Lemieux and Burkle said. “David came to us with a strong background in strategic planning, project development, branding, communications and political decision-making, as well as a native’s understanding of Pittsburgh and the surrounding region. For the past three years, he’s had the opportunity to work with and learn from Ken Sawyer at the top level of our organization, and now we believe he is the natural choice to assume the dual role of CEO and president.”
As said in the statement, Morehouse is the perfect candidate for the job. I can personally vouch for the fact that he is a Pittsburgh guy through and through. I have had a couple of conversations with him and he just has a way about him that makes you feel as if you are talking with a friend. When you combine that fact with all that he brings to the table professionally, you have a recipe for success.
Ken Sawyer will be missed, but we should all be excited to see where Mr. Morehouse can lead this organization.