PITTSBURGH - Following news that the Penguins informed Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl that they "are at the end of their rope" and that talks for a new arena have reached an impasse, the mayor received a quick offer of assistance from half a world away. The Iraqi execution team forwarded the mayor what mayoral spokesman Dick Skrinjar described as "a very cordial note."

"Hearing that an entire hockey team could be at the end of their rope is a very exciting prospect for us," said execution team captain Mahdi Temimi. "Hanging twenty or so men could really boost our morale."

The mayor and Gov. Ed Rendell have declined the Iraqi offer "for the time being," and insist that they can hammer out a deal.