Mario Lemieux, born October 5th 1965 in Montreal, Quebec, is perhaps, and in my opinion, the greatest, but at minimum one of the greatest hockey players ever. Mario grew up with two brothers and a modest family life, his father being a construction worker and his mother a housewife. Mario competed local at first and practiced in his front lawn on a rink his father created for his family. He conquered every level of junior hockey. In 1983 he established a single season record in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) of 282. In 1984 Mario was drafted first pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Mario’s first game was October 11th, 1984, against the Boston Bruins. His rookie year he scored exactly 100 points and was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

During the 1985-86 season, Mario began earning much more than rookie awards. He earned his first of four Lester B. Pearson awards, given to the league’s MVP as decided by the players. This was also the season that marked his first of many all-star appearances. The 1987-88 season Mario saw his first of three Hart trophies (league MVP) and first of six Art Ross trophies (top scorer). In the subsequent season, Mario earned his highest season score ever: 199. However, it was not until the 1990-91 season that Mario led the Penguins to Stanley Cup victory over the Minnesota North Stars. That season Mario was named playoff MVP and received the Conn Smythe trophy. This was repeated the next season when the Penguins took the cup from the Chicago Blackhawks and again Mario earned the Conn Smythe trophy. Amidst all this victory came 1993.

In January of 1993 Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with a form of Hodgkin’s disease, a treatable type of cancer. Regardless of the immediate radiation therapy, Mario kept stressing he would be back before the end of the season. Upon ending of his treatment on March 2nd, Mario returned to the ice that same day scoring a goal and an assist. In the 20 games that remained Mario earned 56 points. He also gained the Art Ross and Hart trophies. In light of all these developments came June.

On June 26th, 1993, Mario Lemieux married Nathalie Asselin. This was followed by two years of injury-laden hockey. The 1993-94 season saw little play due to back problems and he sat out the entire 1994-95 season with the same continued injuries. Then the come back of 1995-96 appeared and Mario was back in the game. He gained 161 points in 70 games and chalked up another Art Ross trophy. Finally the game became too much and Mario decided to retire at the end of the 1996-97 season. His last game was on April 26th, 1997 against the Philadelphia Flyers. November 17th of the following season Mario was inducted into the hall of fame and his number, 66, was retired. No one saw that Mario was destined to return.

From the time of his retirement, Mario did not sever ties with the Penguins. In response to the teams financial problems, Mario took the salary still owed him and gathered investors to, in effect, buy the team. As the new owner, Mario laced up and returned to the Penguins. On December 8th, 2000, hockey was changed again (and I had a reason to start watching again) when Mario Lemieux returned to the ice playing for Pittsburgh once again. He scored one goal and two assists his first game back. He still plays to this day, though not as frequently, to a level that has always been expected out of the player legendary for his aggressive forward skating: the legend that is Mario Lemieux.

Resources include NHL.com, askmen.com, allsports.com, and my vast knowledge of the legend Mario Lemieux.

Mario Lemieux was born in Montreal, Quebec on October 5, 1965. Like most citizens of Montreal, Mario grew up playing hockey and adoring the Montreal Canadiens. As a boy he idolized Guy Lafleur (who, coincidentally, is the only other player besides Mario to have been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and then returned to play afterwards) and many other Montreal legends. As Mario grew up his parents, like many Canadian parents, supported his passion for the game. His father built a rink out in his front yard so his boys could practice whenever they pleased. Mario started his career in hockey while staying local, competing for his entire junior career in Quebec. He dominated every level of junior hockey with 247 goals and 562 points in three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He even established the record of 282 points in a single season in 1983.

The Pittsburgh Penguins drafted Mario first overall in the 1984 entry draft. Mario had his NHLdebut against the Boston Bruins, scoring on his first shift on the ice. During his rookie year scored exactly 100 points and was named NHL Rookie of the Year. In the 1989-1990 season, Mario proved his hockey prowess by scoring 199 points, his highest ever, 1 shy of the 200 point mark which only Wayne Gretzky surpassed. He also propelled the Pens through an impressive playoff run, losing in the semi-finals. In the 1990-1991 season, however, things were different. He helped the Pens reach first place in the Patrick Division and win the Stanley Cup against the Minnesota North Stars (now the Dallas Stars). Mario was named the MVP of the playoffs, receiving the Conn Smythe trophy. Again in the 1991-1992 season, Mario pushed his team to glory, winning the Cup a second time against the Chicago Blackhawks and again was given the Conn Smythe trophy.

While going for the Cup a third time in 1993, Mario was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease. He underwent radiation treatment from Feb 1st to March 2nd, all the while stating his desire to return to the ice. Amazingly he did return on the finally day of his treatment and scored a goal and added an assist. In the final twenty games of the season he scored an astounding 56 points and earned several awards, such as the Art Ross and Hart trophies. The Pens, however, were defeated in the division finals. The next season was dominated by injury. Mario didn't play much in the 1993-1994 season due to a herniated muscle in his back and sat out the entire 1994-1995 season with continuous back problems. The 1995-1996 season, however, was an amazing comeback season for Mario. He scored 161 points in 70 games and earned another Art Ross trophy. Again in the 1996-1997 season, Mario led the league in scoring, but it was to be his final season in hockey. He announced his retirement, citing back problems and a more aggressive checking style that was beginning to dominate the game.

Mario was greeted with a standing ovation from the crowd and players on April 26, 1997 in Philadelphia in what was to be his final game as the Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame the next season on November 17. The Penguins retired his number (66) that same year. Mario's relationship with the Penguins was far from over, however, because they still owed him money according to his contract. The team, however, ran into serious financial trouble and bankruptcy. Lemieux decided to use that money that was owed to him to gather a group of investors and buy the team in 1999. As owner, Mario vowed to return Pittsburgh to the hockey crazy town it was when he laced them up for the Penguins.

He did just that on December 8, 2000 when it was announced by the Penguins that Mario Lemieux would be returning as a player. The move made Mario both the owner and employee of the same franchise. He said that the main reason for his return was so that his youngest son could see his father in action. Mario made his comeback on December 27, 2000, scoring a goal and adding two assists. Since his return, Mario has been part of the 2000-2001 All-Star Team and even captain of the Canadian Olympic Team. Over the last few years Mario has once again struggled with back problems, causing him to miss several games at a time; however, he is still a potent player.

Despite, however, his return to the ice as a player, the Penguins have floundered rather badly for several years running, and Mario has stated (late 2005) that the chances of the Penguins remaining in Pittsburgh are pretty slim.

Lemieux retired again, in January 2006, from his active playing role; he has said that this time he means it and that it's done playing, finally. He also mentioned that he's trying to find a buyer for his team.

1984-1985

1985-1986

1986-1987

  • NHL Second Team All-Star

1987-1988

1988-1989

  • Art Ross Trophy
  • NHL First Team All-Star
  • Dodge Performer of the Year
  • Dodge Ram Tough Award
  • Dapper Dan Man of the Year
  • Sporting News NHL Player of the Year

1989-1990

1991-1992

  • Second Team All-Star
  • Art Ross Trophy
  • Conn Smythe Trophy
  • Pro Set NHL Player of the Year

1992-1993

  • Lester B. Pearson Award
  • Hart Memorial Trophy
  • Art Ross Trophy
  • NHL First Team All-Star
  • Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
  • Sporting News NHL Player of the Year

1995-1996

  • Lester B. Pearson Award
  • Hart Trophy
  • Art Ross Trophy
  • NHL First Team All-Star
  • Sporting News NHL Player of the Year

1996-1997

  • Lester B. Pearson Award
  • Art Ross Trophy
  • NHL First Team All-Star

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