Sports Stars

Ice Hockey

Mario Lemieux

Mario "The Magnificent" Lemieux was born on September 5, 1965, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

From an early age, Mario dominated the game of hockey at every level he played. Mario played for Canada in the 1983 World Junior Championships and recorded 10 points on the bronze medal winning team. In his final year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), Lemieux scored a record 133 goals and added 149 assists for 282 points in 70 games for the Laval Titan.

He was named Canadian Junior Hockey Player of the year and was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1984 NHL entry draft. On his first NHL shift against the Boston Bruins, Lemieux would steal the puck from Bruin great Ray Bourque and score his first NHL goal on Pete Peeters. Mario went on to chalk up 100 points in his rookie campaign and was awarded the Calder Trophy as best first year player. Lemieux recorded 100+ point season the next couple of seasons and emerged as a dominating NHL player.

One of his most famous goals though was scored as he played for team Canada, in the 1987 Canada Cup. He took a pass from Wayne Gretzky and beat Soviet goalie Sergei Mylnikov at 18:34 of the third period to get Canada a 6-5 lead and eventual victory in the Canada Cup fianl. The 1987-88 regular season was dominated by Lemieux as he tallied 70 goals and 98 assists for 168 points, good enough to win the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Memorial Trophy as most valuable player in the league. His battles with Wayne Gretzky continued as Mario scored a personal best 199 points in 1988-89, 57 more than Gretzky and good enough for another Art Ross. Always a great talent with excellent physical attributes like strength, size, and a long wingspan, Lemieux had to endure physical ailments throughout his career. Back injuires saw his miss ice-time beginning in 1989-90 and he only played in 26 games in the 1990-91 season. His return in the second half of that year saw the Pittsburgh Penguins win their first Stanley Cup Championship. The team was led by Lemieux who recorded 44 points to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Pittsburg and Mario would go on to win their second Stanley Cup the following year.

In January of 1993 Mario Lemieux's health problems took a turn for the worse as he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a treatable form of cancer. Lemieux missed 23 games as he got radiation treatment, but still managed to comeback and win the scoring title. Lemieux would take the entire 1994-95 season off to recover from his back injuries and other ailments, but would come back to win two Art Ross and a Hart Trophy before announcing his retirement in 1997. The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its waiting period and inducted Lemieux in November, 1997. Having been in retirement for three years, Mario made a surprise comeback with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2000-01 season. His production numbers were nothing but awesome in a league that had become notorious for cluthing, grabbing and defensive play. His health was still a problem as he only played 24 games in 2001-02 but followed that up with a 67 game performce the following year, tallying up 91 points.

 

 



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