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Mario Lemieux
MLemieux.jpg
Born October 5, 1965 (1965-10-05) (age 51)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Height 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight 230 lb (104 kg; 16 st 6 lb)
Position Centre
Shoots Right
Played for Pittsburgh Penguins
National team Flag of Canada.svg Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1984
Pittsburgh Penguins
Playing career 1984–1997
2000–2006
Hall of Fame, 1997

Mario Lemieux (born Joseph Roger Mario Lemieux on October 5, 1965) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player and current owner for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

He played parts of 17 seasons with the National Hockey League's (NHL) Pittsburgh Penguins between 1984 and 2006.

Dubbed "The Magnificent One" or "Le Magnifique" (as well as "Super Mario"), he is widely acknowledged to be one of the best players of all time. A gifted playmaker and fast skater despite his large size, Lemieux often beat defencemen with fakes and dekes.

Mario led Pittsburgh to two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Under his ownership, the Penguins won a third Cup in 2009 and a fourth in 2016. He is the only man to have his name on the Cup as both a player and an owner.

He also led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002, a championship at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and a Canada Cup in 1987.

Mario won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player voted by the players four times, the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player (MVP) during the regular season three times, the Art Ross Trophy as the league's points leader six times, and the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1991 and 1992.

At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL's seventh-ranked all-time scorer with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. He ranks second in NHL history with a 0.754 goals-per game average for his career, behind only Islanders' Mike Bossy (0.762). In 2004, he was inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.

Mario's career was plagued by health problems that limited him to 915 of a possible 1,428 regular season games, between the opening of the 1984-85 campaign, and the final game for the 2005–2006 Pittsburgh Penguins season (which was also the season that Sidney Crosby made his debut).

Mario made his NHL debut on October 11, 1984 and his final game took place on December 16, 2005. His numerous ailments included spinal disc herniation, Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic tendinitis of a hip-flexor muscle and chronic back pain so severe that other people had to tie his skates.

Mario retired two different times over the course of his career due to these health issues: first in 1997 after battling lymphoma (he returned in 2000), and for a second and final time in 2006, after being diagnosed with an atrial fibrillation. He also missed the entire 1994–95 season due to Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Despite his lengthy absences from the game, Mario's play remained at a high level upon his return to the ice; he won the Hart Trophy and scoring title in 1995–96 after sitting out the entire previous season, and he was a finalist for the Hart when he made his comeback in 2000.

In 1999, he bought the Penguins and their top minor-league affiliate, the American Hockey League's (AHL) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins out of bankruptcy and is currently the team's principal owner and chairman.

The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Mario immediately after his first retirement in 1997, waiving the normal three-year waiting period; upon his return in 2000, he became the third Hall of Famer (after Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) to play after being inducted.

Early YearsEdit

Mario was born in Montreal, to Pierrette (a stay-at-home mom) and Jean-Guy Lemieux (an engineer). He and his older brothers, Alain and Richard grew up in a working class family in the Ville-Émard district.

He began practicing hockey at age 3 in his basement; before using real equipment, he and his brothers used wooden kitchen spoons as hockey sticks and bottle caps as pucks. Mario's father created a rink on the front lawn so that the boys could practice as much as possible and according to family legend, the family sometimes packed snow onto the living room carpet so the brothers could practice indoors when it was dark.

Mario started his career with the Laval Voisins of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). When he was drafted at the age of 15, he declared that he would break league records.

In the 1983–84 QMJHL season, Mario broke the league record for points in a season with 282 (133 goals, 149 assists) in 70 games. In his last game of the regular season, he needed three goals to tie Guy Lafleur's record of 130 goals— he scored six goals and added six assists in a 16-4 victory.

Although he played in the 1983 World Junior Hockey Championships, Mario did not play for the Canadian Juniors in 1984 because he disliked how coach Dave King treated him in the previous tournament. He also did not want to break up his junior season. Mario finished his QMJHL career with 562 points (247 goals, 315 assists) in three seasons.

Before the 1984 NHL Entry Draft, Mario announced he wanted to play for whoever drafted him. He and his agent were deadlocked with the Penguins and could not negotiate a contract.

Because of this, when the Penguins called his name as the first overall draft pick, he did not shake general manager Eddie Johnston's hand or don the Penguins jersey as is NHL tradition. He claimed he was upset about the contract negotiation, and said that "[[Pittsburgh doesn't want [him] bad enough]]." Even though the draft was held in Montreal, over 3,000 fans viewed a broadcast in Pittsburgh's Civic Arena—a typical Penguins game drew less than 7,000 fans at the time.

After the draft, Johnston signed Mario to a two-year contract for $600,000, plus a $150,000 bonus for signing.

Playing CareerEdit

1984–1988: Early careerEdit

At the start of Mario's career, the Penguins were in financial turmoil and there were rumours of relocation. The team had declared bankruptcy after the 1974–75 season and by 1983, they were averaging fewer than 7,000 fans per game—less than half of the Civic Arena's capacity. They had not made the playoffs since 1982 and had not had a winning season since 1979.

On October 11, 1984, Mario made his debut against the Boston Bruins and on his first shift, he stole the puck from Hall of Fame defenceman Ray Bourque and scored a goal with his first NHL shot against Pete Peeters.

Later that season, he played in the NHL All-Star Game and became the first rookie to be named the All-Star Game's Most Valuable Player. Despite missing seven games during the season, Mario scored 100 points and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the rookie of the year.

The next season, Mario finished second in league scoring with 141 points (behind Wayne Gretzky's NHL-record 215 points). He won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the NHL's best regular-season player as voted by his peers.

Mario missed 17 games of the 1986–87 NHL season—his point production slipped, and the Penguins once again failed to make the playoffs. However, he played in the Canada Cup during the summer of 1987 and set a tournament record 11 goals in 9 games; his last goal, which clinched the Canadian victory, broke a tie with the Soviet team with 1:26 remaining in the third period.

Mario cited his Canada Cup experience as the reason for his elevated play later on, stating, "Remember, I was only 21 years old at the time. To be around guys like Wayne [Gretzky] and Mark Messier and Paul Coffey [...] was a tremendous learning experience."

By the 1987–88 season, Wayne Gretzky had won seven consecutive Art Ross Trophies for leading the league in points.

That season, fueled by his Canada Cup experience, Mario scored 168 points and won his first NHL scoring title. He also won his first Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's Most Valuable Player to his team, and the All-Star Game MVP award after a record-setting six-point game.

Despite Mario's success, the Penguins finished one point out of the playoffs. However, they did have their first winning record in nine years.

1988–1992: 199 pointsEdit

In the 1988–89 season, Mario led the league with 114 assists (tied with Gretzky) and 85 goals for 199 points; he is the only player to approach Gretzky's mammoth 200+ point seasons.

He finished the season a close second to Gretzky in voting for the Hart Trophy and set several milestones and records in the process, becoming the second player to score 70+ goals in two seasons, the fourth player to score 50 goals in 50 games, and the only player to score 13 shorthanded goals in one season. Buoyed in part by Lemieux' performance, the Penguins made the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

Perhaps the defining moment of Mairo's season was on December 31, 1988, in a game against the New Jersey Devils. In that game, he scored eight points and became the only player in NHL history to score a goal in all five possible game situations in the same game: even-strength, power-play, shorthanded, penalty shot, and empty-net.

Mario had another five-goal, eight-point performance in a 10-7 victory during the postseason against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 25, 1989. He tied the NHL record for most goals and points in a postseason game, most goals in a postseason period (four in the first), and most assists in a postseason period (three in the second). However, the Penguins lost the series 4–3.

During the 1989–90 NHL season, Mario scored at least one point in 46 consecutive games before he ended the streak by leaving a game due to injury. The streak's length was second only to Gretzky's 51-game streak.

He won his third All-Star Game MVP with a four-goal performance. Although he missed 21 games, Mario finished fourth in the league in scoring with 123 points (45 goals, 78 assists). The Penguins did not qualify for the playoffs.

Mario's back injury progressed into a herniated disc which subsequently developed an infection. On July 11, 1990, he underwent back surgery to fix the disk, missing 50 games in the 1990–91 NHL season.

In his absence, the Penguins acquired players Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson in hopes of becoming serious contenders for the Stanley Cup.

Despite significant back pain, Mario scored 16 goals and 28 assists for the playoff lead, and led the Penguins over the Minnesota North Stars for their first Stanley Cup. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs' most valuable player. His 44 playoff points rank second only to Wayne Gretzky's 47 in 1984–85.

One of the most famous goals in NHL history is the goal Mario scored in the 2nd period of game two.

Receiving the puck between the Penguins' blue line and the centre line, Mario skated solo into the North Stars zone facing two defencemen and the goalie by himself. He skirted the puck through one of the defenders' (Shawn Chambers) legs, skated around him, forced the goalie to commit left, then switched the puck to his backhand side and sliding the puck in before crashing into the net himself.

The brief video of the goal has been since featured on recent Stanley Cup promo ads by the NHL (played in reverse), as well as the opening montage of Hockey Night in Canada broadcasts.

Mario played only 64 games in his injury-plagued 1991–92 season. Despite missing several games, he won his third Art Ross Trophy with 131 points. During the second game of the Patrick Division finals, the New York Rangers' Adam Graves slashed and broke his left hand, causing him to miss five games, but he still led the playoffs with 16 goals and 18 assists.

The Penguins swept the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final and Mario won the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second consecutive postseason. He racked up an astonishing 78 combined points during the 1991 and 1992 playoffs, a two-year total second only to Gretzky's 82 points as his Oilers won their first and second Stanley Cup titles in 1984 and 1985.

1992–1997: Cancer, return and retirementEdit

The Penguins started the 1992–93 season well and Mario set a franchise record with at least one goal in twelve consecutive games, from October 6 to November 1. He was on pace to challenge Gretzky's records of 92 goals in one season (1981–82) and 215 points in one season (1985–86).

On January 12, 1993, Mario made a shocking announcement that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was forced to undergo energy-draining aggressive radiation treatments, leaving his career and possibly his survival in doubt. He missed two months of play and without him, the Penguins struggled. When he returned, he was 12 points behind Buffalo's Pat LaFontaine in the scoring race.

On the day of his last radiation treatment, Mario flew to Philadelphia to play against the Flyers where he scored a goal and an assist in a 5-4 loss. Before the game, he earned a standing ovation from Philadelphia fans (which was a rare occurrence for any visiting player much less a Pittsburgh athlete).

With Mario back, Pittsburgh won an NHL record 17 consecutive games to finish first overall for the first time in franchise history; their 119 points are still a franchise record.

He scored at an incredible pace, notching an average 2.67 points per game—the third highest points-per-game for a season, behind only Wayne Gretzky's 1983–84 and 1985–86 averages of 2.77 and 2.69, respectively. He won his second straight and fourth overall scoring title, finishing with 160 points (69 goals, 91 assists) in 60 games, beating out LaFontaine by 12 points.

The Penguins dispatched the New Jersey Devils in the first round in five games, but were upset by the New York Islanders in seven.

During the series against the Islanders, Mario was repeatedly knocked out of his game by Darius Kasparaitis. After the season, he was awarded his second Pearson Trophy, and his first Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

On July 23, 1993, Mario underwent his second back surgery, this time to repair a herniated muscle. He missed the first ten games of the season to recover from surgery, and missed 48 more games from back problems. After the season, he announced that he would take a leave of absence because of fatigue brought on by his radiation treatment.

Mario returned for the 1995–96 season, and on October 26, 1995, he scored his 500th career goal in his 605th game, played against the New York Islanders. He was second only to Gretzky, who scored 500 goals in 575 games.

Mario finished the season with 69 goals and 92 assists to lead the league; he became the seventh player to win three Hart Trophies, and the fourth player to win five Art Ross Trophies. Despite his return, the Penguins fell to the Florida Panthers in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games.

The next season, Mario (playing against the Vancouver Canucks) scored his 600th career goal in his 719th game, and went on to put up his tenth career 100-point season, both the second-most in history after Wayne Gretzky's 600 goals in 718 games and fifteen 100-point seasons.

In Mario's last game against his hometown Montreal, he tied an NHL record for most goals in a period, with four goals in the third. he won his sixth scoring title with 122 points (50 goals, 72 assists).

On April 6, 1997, Mario announced that he planned to retire following the playoffs. The Penguins were eliminated in five games by the Eric Lindros-led Philadelphia Flyers during the first round.

He scored one goal and earned an assist in his final game. Despite the typically hostile Philadelphia crowd, Lemieux skated around the ice following the final horn and received a standing ovation from the fans in attendance.

Upon his first retirement, Mario became the only player to retire from the NHL with a greater than 2 points per game average (1494 points in 745 games). On November 17, 1997, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, becoming the ninth player in history to have the mandatory three-year waiting period waived.

1997–2000: Post-retirementEdit

The Penguins' free-spending ways of the early 1990s came at a high price.

Through most of the 1990s, Penguins' owners Howard Baldwin and Morris Belzberg mismanaged the team, owing over $90 million to various creditors. As a consequence, the Penguins asked Mario and other prominent players to defer their salaries. The team was also forced to make several trades to stop the bleeding, most of which backfired.

The situation became so dire that the Penguins were forced to declare bankruptcy in November 1998. For most of the 1998-99 NHL season, it looked like the Penguins would either move out of town or fold altogether, but this point, Mario stepped in with an unusual proposal to buy the team. Years of deferred salaries, adding up to $32.5 million, had made him the Penguins' largest creditor.

Mario proposed to convert $20 million of his deferred salary into equity, enough to give him controlling interest. He also promised to keep the team in Pittsburgh. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court gave preliminary approval to Lemieux's bid on June 24 Lemieux later said that he would have put in a bid even if he had not been owed the deferred salary.

On September 1, 1999, the NHL's Board of Governors approved Mario's application for ownership and two days later, (after he cut a deal with Fox Sports Pittsburgh, the Penguins' TV broadcaster and Spectacor Management Group, which operated the Civic Arena), the court gave final approval to his reorganization plan, allowing him to formally assume control.

This made the then-retired star the first former NHL player to become majority owner of his former team. Mario assumed the posts of president, chairman and CEO of the Penguins.

Mario's plan was designed to pay everyone the organization owed. In fact, the bankruptcy court approved his bid in part because of the prospect that the debt would be fully retired—a rare feat, considering that unsecured creditors typically get only pennies on the dollar.

In August 2005, the Post-Gazette reported that the Penguins had indeed fully paid the principal it owed to each of its creditors, both secured and unsecured. Mario was given much of the credit, according to the article, for his insistence that everyone owed be paid.

Mario has since relinquished the president's and CEO's posts to Ken Sawyer, but remains the team's principal owner and chairman. In January 2006, Lemieux confirmed the team was for sale, but would consider offers only from those who will keep the team in Pittsburgh.

2000–2006: Out of retirementEdit

Late in 2000, there were rumours that Mario was attempting a comeback. Upon announcing his comeback, he also signed a "career spanning deal" with Nike to wear their equipment on the ice and to endorse their products off the ice.

This deal would include Mario endorsing their line of footwear and their golf equipment. It is said that the deal was worth $500,000 (US) a season and would remain in effect for the rest of his career.

On December 27, 2000, Mario returned to the NHL against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game was nationally broadcast on ESPN2 in the U.S. and on Hockey Night in Canada. He proved that his scoring touch had not disappeared by scoring a goal and three points, including an assist 33 seconds into the first shift of his return.

While Jaromir Jagr remained captain of the Penguins, Mario was named captain of the North American All-Stars during the midseason All-Star game in Denver, Colorado.

Despite playing in only 43 games in 2000–01, Mario scored 76 points to finish 26th in scoring, finishing the season with the highest points-per-game average that season among NHL players. In fact, he had the highest points-per-game average amongst NHL players for the entire period from his 2001 return until his final retirement in 2006.

He was one of the three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy and Lester B. Pearson NHLPA awards and earned a selection on the postseason NHL All-Star Second Team.

Mario led the Penguins in the postseason and led in playoff scoring for much of it. His team surprised many by going to the Eastern Conference finals, knocking off the higher-seeded Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres along the way in six and seven games, respectively.

The Penguins lost in five games to the top-seeded New Jersey Devils as their players held Mario and Jágr without a goal that series. He finished Game Five in the penalty box after slashing the Devils' John Madden; afterwards, Mario signed his stick and handed it to a young fan.

Before the start of the 2001–02 season, Pittsburgh was forced to trade most of their expensive players, so the team plummeted to the bottom of the NHL and missed the playoffs in each of the next four seasons.

Mario again resumed the captaincy, as Jaromír Jágr was sent to the Washington Capitals. However, he only appeared in 24 games, partially due to injuries that would also plague him for the next three seasons. He also skipped some Penguins games in 2001-02 so he could be in condition to play what would be his only chance at the Olympics in his career.

However, Mario played only one more game after the Salt Lake City Olympics before being out for the rest of the season due to a nagging hip problem, leading one Pittsburgh columnist to demand that Lemieux apologize for making Team Canada his priority.

Radio show host Mark Madden said he would donate $6,600 to the Mario Lemieux Foundation if the hockey great ever scored off a faceoff.

On December 23, 2002, the Penguins played the Buffalo Sabres in Pittsburgh and Mario (who was aware of the challenge) made good on it when he scored the game-winning goal right off a faceoff during the third period.

In the 2002–03 season at the age of 37, Mario led the NHL in scoring for most of the season but missed most of the games towards the end of the schedule and finished eighth in scoring with 91 points in only 67 games. He missed all but ten games during the 2003–04 season.

After the lockout concluded, he returned to the ice for the 2005–06 season. Hopes for the Penguins were high due to the salary cap and revenue sharing, which enabled the team to compete in the market for several star players.

Another reason for optimism was the Penguins winning the lottery for the first draft pick, enabling them to select Sidney Crosby. Mario opened up his home to Crosby to help the rookie settle in Pittsburgh and served as his mentor.

Player/owner statusEdit

Mario's unique status as player and owner placed him in a potential conflict of interest with respect to NHL labor negotiations. Because he was also an owner, he was no longer a member of the National Hockey League Players Association (although he still paid union dues to maintain his pension).

By agreement with the NHLPA, Mario was paid the average league salary of about $1.4 million and it was from this amount that his union dues were calculated and deducted. He did not vote in owners' meetings, delegating this role to a Penguins vice-president.

Mario suggested that the NHL adopt a salary structure similar to the National Football League (NFL) which has a hard salary cap. He and fellow NHL team executive Gretzky brought the parties together in a last-ditch effort to save what remained of the 2004–05 season, but no agreement was reached and the season was lost.

2006–present: Second retirementEdit

On January 24, 2006, Mario announced his second and permanent retirement from professional hockey at the age of 40. This followed a half-season in which he struggled not only with the increased speed of the "new NHL" but also with atrial fibrillation, which caused him to experience irregular heartbeats.

Although he had put up points at a pace that most NHL forwards would be very content with (22 points in 26 games) in his last season, Mario still remarked that "I can no longer play at a level I was accustomed to in the past."

In October 2006, Mario's ownership group announced that it had reached an agreement to sell the Penguins to Research in Motion Chairman and Co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

However, Balsillie unexpectedly rescinded his offer two months later after an apparent dispute with the NHL Board of Governors over purchasing conditions despite Balsillie having earlier pledged to the Board that he would not relocate the team. Mario was offended that Balsillie had pulled out at last minute and initially refused to return Balsillie's deposit, saying that it was in breach of their agreement.

On March 13, 2007, his ownership group announced a final agreement for a new multi-purpose arena, eventually to be named Consol Energy Center, to be built across the street from Mellon Arena. The deal keeps the Penguins in Pittsburgh for at least 30 years.

Mario was instrumental in negotiating this deal, despite outside efforts to move the team to Kansas City. It was later revealed that he had visited Kansas City only to put pressure on the city and state to push through plans for the new arena.

The Penguins returned to the playoffs, losing in 5 games to the Ottawa Senators in 2007, and making the Finals in 2008 where they lost in six games to the Detroit Red Wings.

On June 12, 2009, Mario won his 3rd Stanley Cup, this time as an owner as the Penguins won a rematch with the Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals in seven games. In 2015, he and Ron Burkle hired Morgan Stanley to explore the possibility of selling the Penguins.

On June 12, 2016, the Penguins defeated the San Jose Sharks in the 2016 Stanley Cup Finals in six games to give Mario his 4th Stanley Cup (his second as an owner).

Career StatisticsEdit

Regular season and playoffsEdit

    Regular Season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1980–81 Montreal-Concordia QAAA 47 62 62 124 127 3 2 5 7 8
1981–82 Laval Voisins QMJHL 64 30 66 96 22
1982–83 Laval Voisins QMJHL 66 84 100 184 76 12 14 18 32 18
1983–84 Laval Voisins QMJHL 70 133 149 282 97 14 29 23 52 29
1984–85 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 73 43 57 100 54
1985–86 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 79 48 93 141 43
1986–87 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 63 54 53 107 57
1987–88 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 77 70 98 168 92
1988–89 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 85 114 199 100 11 12 7 19 16
1989–90 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 59 45 78 123 78
1990–91 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 26 19 26 45 30 23 16 28 44 16
1991–92 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 64 44 87 131 94 15 16 18 34 2
1992–93 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 60 69 91 160 38 11 8 10 18 10
1993–94 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 22 17 20 37 32 6 4 3 7 2
1995–96 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 70 69 92 161 54 18 11 16 27 33
1996–97 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 50 72 122 65 5 3 3 6 4
2000–01 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 43 35 41 76 18 18 6 11 17 4
2001–02 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 24 6 25 31 14
2002–03 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 67 28 63 91 43
2003–04 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 10 1 8 9 6
2005–06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 26 7 15 22 16
QMJHL totals 200 247 315 562 190 26 43 41 84 47
NHL totals 915 690 1033 1723 834 107 76 96 172 87

InternationalEdit

Year Team Event Result GP G A Pts PIM
1983 Canada WJC Template:Brca 7 5 5 10 12
1985 Canada WC Template:Sica 9 4 6 10 2
1987 NHL All-Stars RV 2 0 3 3 0
1987 Canada CC Template:Goca 9 11 7 18 8
2002 Canada Oly Template:Goca 5 2 4 6 0
2004 Canada WCH Template:Goca 6 1 4 5 2
Junior totals 7 5 5 10 12
Senior totals 31 18 24 42 12

NHL All-Star GamesEdit

Year Location G A P
1985 Calgary 2 1 3
1986 Hartford 0 0 0
1988 St. Louis 3 3 6
1989 Edmonton 0 1 1
1990 Pittsburgh 4 0 4
1992 Philadelphia 0 1 1
1996 Boston 0 2 2
1997 San Jose 2 1 3
2001 Denver 1 1 2
2002 Los Angeles 1 0 1
10 All-Star Games 13 10 23

International PlayEdit

Mario played for Canada in the 1983 World Junior Championships (bronze medal), 1985 World Championships (silver medal), 1987 Canada Cup (championship), 2002 Winter Olympics (captain, gold medal) and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey (captain, championship).

At the 2002 Winter Olympics (having been selected by Gretzky to captain the roster), Mario led the Canadian men's team into Salt Lake City, Utah. The team had failed to win a gold medal at the Olympics in 50 years, but they were still considered favorites to win.

Mario was second to Joe Sakic in team scoring with six points in five games, and led the team to gold by defeating the United States 5-2 in the final game. He showcased his amazing hockey intelligence during the gold medal game against the United States.

With Team Canada trailing 1-0 in the first period, Mario made one of the most famous and savvy plays in Olympic hockey history. After a cross-ice pass from him in the neutral zone, Canadian defenceman Chris Pronger carried the puck across the blue line into the American zone, and fired a pass across the zone.

Mario then faked like he was receiving the pass and proceeded to take a shot at the net, all while letting the puck slide through his legs, knowing he had forward Paul Kariya streaking behind him. Mario's fake caused American goalie Mike Richter to lunge in his direction and thus created a wide open net for Kariya to fire the puck in as he received the pass from Pronger after Lemieux let it go to Kariya.

During the tournament, Mario's hip injury required several painkilling injections to keep him on the ice and he only played one more NHL game after the Olympics before being lost for the season.

Mario would then play in his final international event, once again captaining Team Canada to victory in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey, where he'd be Team Canada's 4th leading scorer, despite being 38 years old, having injuries, and playing in just 10 NHL games that year.

He was also selected by team Canada for the 2006 Winter Olympics, but he declined due to health issues.

AccoladesEdit

  • Hockey Hall of Fame – 1997
  • 4× Stanley Cup champion – (As player): 1991, 1992; (As owner): 2009, 2016
  • Olympic gold medalist — 2002
  • 3× Hart Memorial Trophy – 1988, 1993, 1996
  • 6× Art Ross Trophy – 1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997
  • 2× Conn Smythe Trophy – 1991, 1992
  • 4× Lester B. Pearson Award – 1986, 1988, 1993, 1996
  • NHL Plus/Minus Award – 1993
  • Calder Memorial Trophy – 1985
  • 3× Chrysler-Dodge/NHL Performer of the Year – 1985, 1986, 1987
  • 2× Dapper Dan Athlete of The Year – 1986, 1989
  • Lester Patrick Trophy – 2000
  • Bill Masterton Trophy – 1993
  • 3× NHL All-Star Game MVP – 1985, 1988, 1990
  • 5× NHL First All-Star Team – 1988, 1989, 1993, 1996, 1997
  • 4× NHL Second All-Star Team – 1986, 1987, 1992, 2001
  • NHL All-Rookie Team – 1985
  • CHL Player of the Year - 1984
  • ESPN Hockey Player of the Decade – 2000
  • 3× ESPY Award NHL Player of the Year – 1993, 1994, 1998
  • Lou Marsh Trophy – 1993
  • In 1998, he was ranked number 4 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players, the highest-ranking French Canadian player, as well as the highest-ranking who had played his entire career for a single team.
  • Inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame in 2004.
  • His #66 has been retired by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Team Canada, and Laval Titan.
  • In 2009, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada "for his contributions as one of hockey’s most gifted players, as an inspirational role model and mentor and for supporting charitable initiatives through the Mario Lemieux Foundation."

Individual NHL RecordsEdit

  • Shorthanded goals, season (13 in 1988–89)
  • Only player to score 30+ power play goals in two different seasons.
  • Most power play points in a single season: (80)
  • Highest empty net goal game ratio (1 in every 27.7 games)
  • Highest empty net goal average career among players with 400+ goals: (5%)
  • Most goals scored or assisted on, season (57.3% of team's goals, 1988–89)
  • Only player with three 8-point games (regular season & playoffs)
  • Only NHL player to ever score 5 goals 5 different ways in one game (even-strength, PP, PK, penalty shot and empty net)
  • Highest career goals per game average in playoffs: (.710)
  • Most points in a single all star game: (6)
  • Most power play goals for a single franchise (236)
  • Only player with 70+ power play points in a single season, (1988: 80; 1989: 79; 1996: 79)

Shared NHL RecordsEdit

  • Most goals in a period: (4) (shares record with Tim Kerr)
  • One of only two players to score 10 or more shorthanded-goals in two different seasons; the other is Wayne Gretzky.

All-Star Game

  • Career goals (13, shares record with Wayne Gretzky)
  • Goals in a single-game (4 in 1990, shares record with Wayne Gretzky)
  • MVP awards (3, shares record with Wayne Gretzky)

Playoffs

Pittsburgh Penguins Records

  • Games (915)
  • Goals, career (690)
  • Assists, career (1033)
  • Points, career (1723)
  • Longest goal-scoring streak (12 games)
  • Longest point streak (46 games)
  • Goals, season (85 in 1988–89)
  • Assists, season (114 in 1988–89)
  • Points, season (199 in 1988–89)
  • Goals, game (5, four occasions including playoffs)
  • Assists, game (6, three occasions, shares record)
  • Points, game (8, three occasions including playoffs)

Personal LifeEdit

On June 26, 1993, Mario married Nathalie Asselin. They have four children: Lauren (born April 1993), Stephanie (born 1995), Austin Nicholas (born 1996) and Alexa (born 1997).

Austin was born prematurely, weighing just two pounds, but he is perfectly healthy today, playing junior hockey for the Omaha Lancers of the USHL.

The family lives in the affluent Pittsburgh suburb of Sewickley.

He has opened his home to young Penguins stars such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Sidney Crosby until they settled into the Pittsburgh area as he did with Jaromír Jágr following the 1990 NHL Entry Draft when he lived in Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania.

Mario is a naturalized American citizen and on March 30, 2007, he contributed $2,300 to Democratic U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign fund. In the past, he has also made contributions to the reelection fund of Republican former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

On June 17, 2009, Mario was given the honourable title Knight from Quebec Premier Jean Charest.

On September 3, 2010, he was given the Order of Canada from then-Governor-General Michaëlle Jean.

Charitable CausesEdit

Mario created the Mario Lemieux Foundation during the same year he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma (in 1993) to fund medical research projects. Additionally, the foundation supports other organizations including the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the Leukemia Society, the Lupus Foundation and the Children's Home of Pittsburgh.

In 2007, Mario was among the well-known athletes who founded Athletes for Hope, a charitable organization which helps professional athletes get involved in charitable causes and inspires non-athletes to volunteer and support the community.

With their son, Austin being born prematurely in 1996, the Lemieux family spent quite a bit of time in the hospital with him and the family found that the older children didn't have a place to play in the hospital.

Using the Lemieux Foundation resources (which was driven by Nathalie's idea and vision), they founded a program called "Austin's Playroom Project". The project builds play rooms in various hospitals across the U.S. to give both children who are patients and their healthy siblings a place to play and "be kids" and concentrate on being normal and healing.

On January 31, 2014, the foundation announced the opening of the twenty-ninth Austin’s Playroom at the new Naval Hospital in Camp Pendleton, California.

LegacyEdit

Mario Lemieux holds a great number of records. Two records, (points in a season and assists in a season) have their first 10 listings as either Gretzky or Lemieux.

On March 7, 2012, a statue in his honour (created by sculptor Bruce Wolfe) was erected in Pittsburgh outside of Consol Energy Center.

The statue is modeled after a play in a 1988 game against the New York Islanders where Mario slipped in between Islanders defencemen Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton to score a goal in a 5–3 Penguins victory.

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