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Mario Lemieux

Photo of Mario Lemieux

One of the greatest hockey players of all time, Mario Lemieux is known to hockey fans for his ability to beat an opponent with fakes and dekes and despite being large in stature, maintaining a high level of speed while doing it. Also known as The Magnificent 1, Lemieux was born in Montreal in 1965. Lemieux began his junior career in 1981, at the age of 15, with the Laval Voisins of the QMJHL. Lemieux would shatter records as a junior player, most significantly, scoring 133 goals, 282 points in 70 games in his final year in the QMJHL, both CHL records. Lemieux was drafted 1st overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1984 NHL Draft. Although Lemieux had a tough year off the ice, not being able to speak English and dealing with the pressures of being hailed as the Penguins savior, Mario excelled on the ice. He would score his first NHL goal in his first game, on his first shift and shot, stealing the puck from future Hall of Famer Ray Bourque. Mario’s 100 points in his rookie season earned him the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of The Year. Mario would consistently rank amongst the NHL’s top scorers, often behind only Wayne Gretzky. In 1988 and 1989, Mario earned his first 2 Art Ross Trophies as the NHL’s leading scorer. In the summer of 1990, Mario underwent back surgery, after which an infection set in. After being confined to bed for 3 months, and with his hockey career and his ability to walk in question, Mario returned to the Penguins in January of 1991. In the 1991 playoffs, Mario led the playoffs in scoring despite missing games due to a broken wrist. The Penguins would win the Stanley Cup, defeating the Minnesota North Stars in 6 games. Mario would win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The following season saw Lemieux win his 3rd Art Ross Trophy and the Penguins repeat as Stanley Cup Champions, with Mario winning his 2ndstraight Conn Smythe Trophy. In January 1993, with Lemiex running away with the scoring title once again, Lemieux made an announcement that shocked the hockey world, he had Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a form of cancer. Lemieux would miss 2 months to undergo radiation, coming back 12 points behind Pat LaFontaine in the NHL scoring race. Lemieux would eventually breeze past LaFontaine, scoring an incredible 160 points in only 60 games that season, earning himself another Art Ross Trophy. After playing sparingly the following season, and sitting out the 1994/95 season, Lemieux would win 2 more Art Ross Trophies in 1996 and 1997, before deciding to retire after the 1997 season as all of his injuries and health problems had taken a toll on his body. In 1999, with the Penguins in bankruptcy, Lemieux purchased the franchise. Midway through the 2000/01 season, Mario returned to the Penguins as a player, becoming the first active player to own and play for a team which he owns. Lemieux would play parts of 5 more seasons with the Penguins, before retiring partway through the 2005/06 season at the age of 40. In Mario’s comeback, he’d captain Team Canada to a Gold Medal at the 2002 Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. In 2009, Lemieux earned his 3rd Stanley Cup ring as the Penguins owner. Currently Lemieux is very active as an owner of the Penguins and is a fixture at their games.