Canadian hockey player
One of the most admired figures in professional sports, Mario Lemieux has enjoyed a lengthy career filled with dramatic moments. A member of two Stanley-Cup winning squads with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Lemieux was sidelined after a diagnosis of Hodgkin's Disease, a form of cancer, in 1993. After completing radiation therapy and missing the 1994-95 season, he returned to the Penguins the following year and scored sixty-nine goals on his way to winning the Hart Trophy as the National Hockey League's (NHL) Most Valuable Player. Citing the indifferent refereeing that plagued the NHL in the mid-1990s, Lemieux went into retirement in 1997. When the Penguins franchise encountered financial difficulties, Lemieux stepped in to negotiate a part-ownership of the team that helped it recover from bankruptcy. Even more surprising, Lemieux came out of retirement to rejoin the Penguins as an active player in 2000, an event that immediately revived the team's fortunes. Although he was criticized for taking time away from the team to prepare for the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games as a member of the Canadian men's hockey team, Lemieux retained his popularity in his adopted hometown of Pittsburgh for his
philanthropic work as well as his continued top-notch excellence on the ice.
Drafted by Pittsburgh Penguins
The third of Jean-Guy and Pierette Lemieux's three sons, Mario Lemieux was born on October 5, 1965 in the working-class Ville Emard neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He first began to skate and play hockey on a rink at the family's local church and his father, a construction worker, sometimes packed snow in the family's front hallway so that his sons, Richard, Alain, and Mario, could get in more practice time. Lemieux was already a standout player by the time he reached his teens and joined the Laval Voisins in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at age fifteen. In order to concentrate completely on his budding career as a hockey player, Lemieux left school after the tenth grade. Lemieux's three years with the Voisins culminated in a league record of 282 scoring points in the 1983-84 season. Recognized as one of the strongest up-and-coming players in North America, Lemieux was the first pick in the first round of the 1984 draft. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
One of the teams added in the expansion of the NHL beyond its original six teams in 1967, the Penguins had never made it to the Stanley Cup finals. The squad also suffered from unfavorable comparisons with its cross-state rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, who won back-to-back victories in 1974 and 1975 and remained viable contenders for the Cup throughout the 1980s. Lemieux was an unlikely savior for the Penguins. Although the teenage center was an impressive figure on the ice, at six feet, four inches tall and about 220 pounds, he was shy and awkward off the ice. A native French speaker, Lemieux gradually learned English, which helped him adapt to life in Pittsburgh. His excellent performance also helped him become a favorite with Penguins fans; in his debut appearance with the team, Lemieux scored a goal on his very first attempt. By the end of the season, he had racked up 100 scoring points and earned the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.
Two Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins
Lemieux's initial success ranked alongside Wayne Gretzky 's astounding entry into the NHL in 1979. In 1986 and 1988 Lemieux won the Lester B. Pearson Award as Player of the Year, chosen by his follow NHL players. He added the Art Ross Trophy as NHL's top scorer in 1988 and 1989 and the Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player in 1988. Yet it took a couple of years for the Penguins to build a solid team around their standout center; it was 1991 before the team made it to the Stanley Cup finals.
|1965||Born October 5 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada to Jean-Guy and Pierette Lemieux|
|1984||Selected as first choice in draft by Pittsburgh Penguins|
|1991-92||Pittsburgh Penguins win two consecutive Stanley Cup championships|
|1993||Marries Nathalie Asselin on June 26|
|1993||Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease|
|1997||Announces retirement as professional athlete|
|1999||Becomes part-owner of Pittsburgh Penguins|
|2000||Returns to lineup of Pittsburgh Penguins|
|2002||Member of Canadian men's hockey team at Salt Lake City Olympic Games|
Awards and Accomplishments
|1985||Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year|
|1986, 1988,||Lester B. Pearson Award as Player of the Year, National|
|1993, 1996||Hockey League Players Association|
|1988-89||Art Ross Trophy as NHL's top scorer|
|1988, 1993, 1996||Hart Trophy as NHL's Most Valuable Player|
|1991-92||Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in Playoffs|
|1993||Bill Masterton Trophy for NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey|
|1997||Induction into Hockey Hall of Fame|
|2002||Olympic Gold Medal, hockey, Salt Lake City Winter Games (Canadian men's hockey team)|
Injured with a herniated disk for much of the 1990-91 season, Lemieux played just twenty-six games that year. His return in time for the finals, however, proved crucial to the team's success as Lemieux amassed forty-four points in the playoffs, leading to the Penguins' eventual victory in the championships over the Minnesota North Stars. He was recognized for his contribution by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy at the end of the season as the playoff's Most Valuable Player.
Healthy for the 1991-92 season, Lemieux emerged with his third Art Ross Trophy with 131 total scoring points. The Penguins made it to the championship finals for the second straight year and defended their title, this time in a four-game sweep over the Chicago Blackhawks. The victory was especially meaningful for the team as it made it to the finals with an interim coach, Scotty Bowman , who stepped in after coach Bob Johnson was diagnosed with the brain cancer that took his life in November 1991. In addition to his second Stanley Cup ring, Lemieux received the Conn Smythe Trophy for the second year in a row.
Diagnosed with Hodgkin's Disease
Although the Penguins failed to make the finals in 1993, Lemieux had another great season. His 160 scoring points earned him another Art Ross Trophy and he received the Hart Trophy as league MVP and Pearson Award as Player of the Year from the Players' Association as well. His personal life was also filled with good news. On June 26, 1993, Lemieux married Nathalie Asselin; the couple eventually had four children.
While going in for a routine medical checkup related to his recurring back problems in 1993, Lemieux pointed out a growth on his neck to his doctor. A biopsy showed that
cancer had invaded the node and Lemieux received a diagnosis of nodular lymphocytic Hodgkin's Disease. He immediately began radiation treatment to fight the illness and was eventually declared cancer-free; however, the treatment left him too lethargic to return to his ice for the 1994-95 season. In his year off the ice, Lemieux created the Mario Lemieux Foundation to fund grants on cancer research and to establish a patient-care center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which opened in 2001. After his son, Austin, was born three months prematurely in March 1996, Lemieux also raised money to inaugurate a neonatal research project at the Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. These efforts, as well as the time he took to talk with other cancer patients and survivors, made Lemieux into one of the most beloved athletes of his generation. A sign of this esteem was the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, which Lemieux received in 1993.
Related Biography: Hockey Coach Bob Johnson
The son of Swedish immigrants, Robert "Bob" Johnson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1931 and grew into an all-around athlete. He played hockey at the University of North Dakota and University of Minnesota and was talented enough in baseball to be signed by the Chicago White Sox. Drafted during the Korean War, Johnson could not pursue his baseball career; after returning from the war, Johnson decided to go into coaching as a more reliable way to support his growing family, which eventually included five children.
Starting off as a high-school hockey coach in Minnesota, Johnson went to Colorado College in 1963. He returned to the Midwest three years later to direct the hockey program at the University of Wisconsin. He spent fifteen seasons at Wisconsin; leading the team to three NCAA championships, he earned the nickname "Badger Bob" after the team's mascot. In 1976 Johnson coached the U.S. men's hockey team at the Innsbruck Winter Olympic Games.
In 1982 Johnson joined the NHL as the coach of the Calgary Flames; the team made it to the 1986 Stanley Cup finals, where it lost to the Montreal Canadiens. He went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and helped lead the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup victory at the end of his first season. In the midst of the celebration, however, Johnson was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died in November 1991 at the age of sixty, just as the Penguins were going on to the franchise's second consecutive Stanley Cup.
Remembered for his catchphrase, "It's a great day for hockey," Johnson was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Upon his return to the Penguins in 1995, Lemieux completed one of his best-ever seasons in the NHL with 161 points in seventy games, a total that included sixty-nine goals. Once again the winner of the Hart and Art Ross Trophies, Lemieux's comeback was an unqualified success. He added a sixth Art Ross Trophy in 1997. Jaromir Jagr , a Penguins player who had looked up to Lemieux as an early role model, was the Ross Trophy winner in 1995 and 1998. Despite these achievements, the Penguins did not return to the Stanley Cup finals after their 1992 win.
Retires and Becomes Part-Owner of Penguins
In April 1997 Lemieux surprised the sports world by announcing his retirement from professional hockey. He had long been disenchanted with the sloppy refereeing in the NHL, which allowed many cheap shots on the ice to go unnoticed by officials. "It's to the point where it's not hockey anymore. It's like football on skates," Sports Illustrated quoted him in 1997. "The best teams win in basketball because the players can run up the court without carrying two guys on their backs. Not so in hockey. That's why there are so many teams with mediocre records…. It's the worst I've seen since I've been in theleague." Lemieux was also crippled by constant back pain, which was not relieved despite two major operations. Thus, when the Penguins were knocked out of that year's playoffs on April 11, 1997, Lemieux retired from hockey. "I'll miss the guys," he told Sports Illustrated, "What I won't miss is the way the game's being played." Lemieux was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.
Lemieux's criticism added a sour note to the end of one of the most storied careers in hockey. Even more worrisome to Penguins fans was the news in 1999 that the team was now facing bankruptcy. If the financial problems—including a $16 million loss for the 1998-99 season—could not be resolved, it seemed certain that the franchise would be sold and moved to Portland, Oregon. With his ties to the team still strong, Lemieux stepped forward with an offer to buy a thirty-five percent stake in the Penguins with $5 million in cash and $20 million in deferred past salary payments owed to him. When it was completed, the deal made Lemieux into a hero in the opinion of many Pittsburghers, as he had saved the team from moving away. With Lemieux as the principal owner of the team, ticket sales increased and the team showed a modest profit in following season.
Comes Out of Retirement in 2000
Even more impressive than the Penguins' comeback from financial ruin was Lemieux's own return as an NHL player on December 27, 2000 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. In doing so, Lemieux became the only player-owner in the NHL. Showing that the time away from the ice had not dimmed his skills, Lemieux scored one goal and had two assists in the game. He ended up playing in forty-three games in the 2000-2001 season and had thirty-five goals and forty-one assists. Lemieux also rediscovered his love for the sport, in part because the changes that he had long advocated had been implemented. "[The style of play] was certainly a big part of my decision to leave the game," he told Darren Pang of the ESPN Network in January 2001, adding, "I like the way the game is going right now, and I like the direction it's heading in and that's why I came back and would like to be part of it."
A hip injury bothered him throughout the 2001-2002 season and Lemieux's time on the ice with the Penguins was further curtailed by his decision to join Canada's men's hockey team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. Despite the accusations that his decision would hurt his team's chances to make the playoffs, Lemieux was thrilled to represent his country at the event. In one of the most exciting international matches in the history of the sport, Canada triumphed in the final over the United States; it was the country's first Gold Medal in the event in fifty years.
|Penguins: Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL).|
Although he is often ranked second to his contemporary Wayne Gretzky in discussions of the greatest hockey players of the last generation, Lemieux's ability to come back not once, but twice, to the sport has earned him special distinction in the sport's history. Hailed as a prodigy in his youth, Lemieux fulfilled his early promise in his first years in the NHL when he won numerpus awards and led his team to two consecutive Stanley Cups. His ability to rebound from a potentially life-threatening disease and return to a level of play that surpassed almost any other player, however, was a testament to his own perseverance and determination. Returning once again to help his team regain its financial footing and league standing, Lemieux added another compelling chapter to an already storied career.
After a sabbatical of forty-four months, Lemieux—father, team owner, and player again at age thirty-five—stepped into the NHL void, reinvigorating a league of faceless players and system-mad teams. On his first night back he needed only thirty-three seconds to set up a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Later that evening he scored and then assisted on a third goal. The 17,148 fans and twenty stunned Maple Leafs (who played more like unindicted coconspirators than opponents) witnessed perfection. Lemieux's nearly twenty-one minute performance was so impeccable, his accomplishment so pure, that it had to be reduced to fit our shrunken frame of reference….
Source: Michael Farber, Sports Illustrated, January 8, 2001.
Diamond, Dan, ed. Total Hockey: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Hockey League. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1998.
Allen, Kevin. "Lemieux Takes Long-Overdue Olympic Trip with Canada." USA Today (February 1, 2002).
Brehm, Mike. "Lemieux Feels Too Good to Take Extra Day Off." USA Today (October 25, 2002).
Charland, Bill. "Multifaceted Mario Re-Steels Pittsburgh." Christian Science Monitor (February 9, 2001).
Farber, Michael. "Owner Operator." Sports Illustrated (January 8, 2001).
Kostya, Kennedy and Michael Farber. "A Different Goal." Sports Illustrated (February 25, 2002).
Kostya, Kennedy. "Super, Mario." Sports Illustrated (December 18, 2000).
Molinari, Dave. "Mario's Costly Hip Check." Sporting News (March 11, 2002).
Swift, E.M. "No Regrets." Sports Illustrated (April 14, 1997).
Wigge, Larry. "The Good Guys: Mario Lemieux." Sporting News (July 16, 2001).
"Foundation History." Mario Lemieux Foundation Web site. http://www.mariolemieux.org/foundation/history.htm (November 7, 2002).
"Jagr Reaping Benefits, Happiness with Lemieux." ESPN Web site. http://espn.go.com/nhl/s/2000/1231/985819.html (December 31, 2000).
"Lemieux: 'I think I made the right decision.'" ESPN Web site. http://espn.go.com/nhl/s/lemieuxpang2.html (January 8, 2001).
"Lemieux Biography." Mario Lemieux Official Web site. http://www.mariolemieux.com/bio.asp (November 7, 2002).
"Mario Lemieux." Internet Hockey Database Web site. http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php3? pid=3105 (November 7, 2002).
"Robert 'Bob' Johnson.'" U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Website. http://www.ushockeyhall.com/Enshrinees/Robert%20Johnson.htm (November 13, 2002).
Sketch by Timothy Borden
"Lemieux, Mario." Notable Sports Figures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario
"Lemieux, Mario." Notable Sports Figures. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/sports/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario
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Canadian hockey player Mario Lemieux (born 1965) was known for his speed and finesse, often compared to such greats as Wayne Gretzky and Guy Lafleur. After his retirement, Lemieux became one of the first players in professional sports to own the team for which he had played.
Lemieux was born on October 5, 1965, in Montreal, Canada, the youngest of three sons of Jean-Guy and Pierrette Lemieux. Growing up in Ville Emard, just outside of Montreal, Lemieux began playing hockey at the age of three. He was encouraged in this pursuit by his father, a construction worker, who packed snow in their front hallway so his sons could practice skating inside. Lemieux played hockey every day after school, and his abilities soon became evident. Jean-Guy Lemieux told Kevin Dupont of The New York Times, "At the age of six I knew he'd play professional. He was playing mite hockey then, with boys who were nine and ten years old and he was already the leader of the team. In every category, scoring and size, he was always bigger."
When he was eligible, Lemieux played junior hockey for Quebec's Laval Voisins in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Before Lemieux joined the team, it had finished last in the league. Lemieux led the team to two league championships, in 1983 and 1984, on his way to becoming the highest-scoring junior player of all time. Averaging four points a game, Lemieux broke numerous scoring records in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In the 1983-84 season, Lemieux had 282 points, including 133 goals and 149 assists in 70 games. That year, he was voted top junior player in Canada. Though Lemieux was often a showman on the ice, he was shy off of it. Yet he used his burgeoning celebrity to start his own golf tournament, The Mario Lemieux Annual Celebrity Golf Tournament which benefited the Normand Leveille Foundation.
Drafted Number One
In the 1984 National Hockey League amateur entry draft, Lemieux was the first pick overall, chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was the first French Canadian to be so picked since Guy Lafleur in 1971. It was speculated at the time that the Pittsburgh team was deliberately the worst team in the league so it could have the first pick and draft Lemieux. He was immediately seen as the future of the club because of his passing abilities, speed, overall skills, and size (6 ′ 4 ″, 200 lbs.). Lemieux was given the largest contract ever offered to a rookie. It was worth $600,000 over two years, plus a $150,000 signing bonus and $150,000 option. Such a contract came with expectations. Lemieux was often compared to Wayne Gretzky, and wore number 66, which was Gretzky's number upside down.
As he had on his junior hockey team, Lemieux made an immediate impact on the Penguins. He scored a goal on his first shift of his first game. Throughout the whole of his rookie season, 1984-85, Lemieux scored a total of 43 goals and had 57 assists. This 100-point total was the third highest scored by a rookie in the history of the league. For his efforts, Lemieux won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. He also played in the All-Star Game and was named the game's Most Valuable Player (MVP). Many believed Lemieux saved the Penguins, financially as well as competitively, because the team might have left the city otherwise. Lemieux also played for Team Canada in World Cup Hockey competition, leading them to a second place finish.
Lemieux continued to improve, pushing himself to become a better player and leader. In the 1985-86 season, he finished second only to Gretzky in points. He was rewarded with a bigger contract, second only to Gretzky in size. It was worth $2.75 million over five years. Comparisons to Gretzky would continue throughout his career. In 1987, Lemieux again played for Team Canada in World Cup competition. This was regarded as an important step in his development as a player, for he played on the same line as Gretzky and learned much from him. Lemieux scored 11 goals in the tournament, including the game-winner in a game versus the Soviet Union, more than any other player.
Lemieux emerged from Gretzky's shadow during the 1988-89 season. Sensitive to accusations that he sometimes eased his intensity during games, Lemieux improved his work ethic. The results were immediate. He had the best scoring start in National Hockey League history, scoring 41 points in the first 12 games, and went on to score 50 goals in less than 50 games. In December 1988, he was named the Penguins' captain, a leadership position. At that season's All-Star Game, he eclipsed Gretzky, and was again named the game's MVP. On the season, Lemieux scored 85 goals and 186 total points—19 more than Gretzky-that gave him the League's scoring title. He also won two MVP awards: the Hart Trophy (voted by hockey writers) and the Lester Pearson Award (voted by fellow players). Under his leadership, the Penguins made the play-offs for the first time, although the New York Rangers eliminated them in four games. Still, Pittsburgh named him the city's man of the year in 1989.
Lemieux's triumph became temporarily derailed for much of 1990-91 due to injury. Though he began the 1989-90 season well through 58 games, he was injured in February 1990 with a herniated disk. He had to undergo back surgery in 1990, and later developed a disc space infection. Lemieux missed the first 50 games of the 1990-91, returning in February 1991. He scored two goals and four assists in his first game back, though he pulled a groin muscle in his fifth game. The Penguins had done well without him, and were on the verge of making the playoffs. Despite lingering back problems, Lemieux led the Penguins to its first Stanley Cup victory. In his 18 play-off games, Lemieux scored a point in each, and goals in 10. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the play-off MVP.
The dominance of Lemieux continued through the 1991-92 season when he scored 131 points in 64 games. Though he still had problems from a lingering shoulder injury and continuing back problems, Lemieux showed his drive and determination when he led the Penguins to their second Stanley Cup. Lemieux signed a new contract in the off season worth $42 million over seven years. He showed its worth by beginning the 1992-93 strong. He scored a goal in each of the first 12 games. In his first 40 games, Lemieux scored a total of 39 goals and 104 total points. But his life changed forever when he found a lump on his neck in January 1993.
Diagnosed with Cancer
Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, cancer of the lymph nodes. Despite the prognosis, Lemieux hoped to return to the team that season, within ten weeks. He underwent a course of radiation treatment, and was back with the Penguins by March. He scored a goal and an assist in his first game back. The team then won 15 straight games. In April, Lemieux scored five goals in one game, in which the Penguins beat the New York Rangers, 10-5. Despite missing several weeks of the season, Lemieux won the League's scoring title with more than 157 points. Though the Penguins had the league's best record, they did not win the Stanley Cup. But Lemieux's cancer-survivor story gave him notoriety outside of hockey. As Jon Scher of Sports Illustrated wrote "Remarkably, the cancer has made Lemieux greater than the sum of his parts. After being viewed for years as a major figure in a minor sport, Lemieux now transcends hockey. He's being recognized as the world's dominant pro athlete."
Despite these expectations, Lemieux only played in 22 games over the next two seasons. He missed most of the 1993-94 campaign with a herniated muscle in his back. He took off the 1994-95 season to address the anemia that had developed because of his cancer treatment. Lemieux continued to play golf and work with a personal trainer. He founded the Mario Lemieux Foundation to raise money for cancer victims. Lemieux married long-time girlfriend, Nathalie Asselin, in this time period. Together they had four children, including daughters Lauren and Stephanie, and son, Austin.
In 1995, Lemieux returned to the Penguins, and planned on playing in only 60 games. He started the season rather slowly, only scoring four assists in his first game back. He soon regained form, and played in more than the 60 games he had planned. He only sat out 11 games, primarily to rest his back. For the whole season, Lemieux had 161 points, including 69 goals, and was named the League's MVP. Health problems continued to plague Lemieux, and he took himself off Team Canada for World Cup competition in 1996. Though Lemieux won his sixth scoring title in the 1996-97 season, he decided to retire while at the top of his game. His reasons were twofold. Though his back problems were part of it, Lemieux also had problems with the job done by on-ice officials. He had expressed such ideas as early as 1992, when he was fined for his public criticisms of officiating in the NHL.
Over the course of Lemieux's career, he averaged 2.01 points per game, a number bested only by Gretzky. Lemieux and Gretzky were head to head for many NHL scoring records, with Lemieux only leading in the category of percentage of goals per game. When Lemieux retired, he had 1494 total career points, including 613 goals. The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its normal waiting-period for Lemieux, and he was inducted in December 1997.
Granted Ownership of the Penguins
Though Lemieux's playing days were at an end, he was not through with professional hockey. When he retired, the Penguins owed him millions of dollars (about $30 to $40 million) in deferred compensation. The team suffered greatly without him, and there were rumors that the Penguins might be sold and moved to Portland, Oregon. When the Penguins were forced to declare bankruptcy, Lemieux was the team's biggest creditor. To save the team for a second time, Lemieux put together an ownership team. The court awarded Lemieux primary ownership in exchange for $29 million of what they owed him, just before the beginning of the 1999-2000 season. Whether one of hockey's greatest players would become a great owner had yet to be seen. As Lemieux told E.M. Swift of Sports Illustrated when he was drafted by the Penguins in 1984, "I'm the kind of guy who isn't very nervous, who takes life as it comes."
Who's Who In America: 1999, 53rd ed., Marquis Who's Who, 1998.
The Back Letter, January 1991, p. 3.
The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1993; November 2, 1999.
MacLean's, February 20, 1989, p. 32; May 1, 1989, p. 58;January 25, 1993, p. 33; April 26, 1993, p. 33; April 8, 1996, p. 52; August 19, 1996, p. 13; December 1, 1997, p. 1; July 5, 1999, p. 11; September 13, 1999.
Newsweek, August 16, 1999, p. 40.
The New York Times, October 22, 1984; January 16, 1993.
Sport, April 1996, p. 86; January 1997, p. 67; January 1998, p. 55.
Sports Illustrated, October 15, 1984, p. 54; March 3, 1986, p. 34;September 28, 1987, p. 12; February 6, 1989, p. 28; February 11, 1991, p. 178; June 3, 1991, p. 36; February 17, 1992, p. 14; May 11, 1992, p. 22; October 19, 1992, p. 9; November 16, 1992, p. 48; January 25, 1993, p. 48; April 19, 1993, p. 44; October 16, 1995, p. 70; November 6, 1995, p. 22; January 22, 1996, p. 46; April 14, 1997, p. 28.
Time, March 15, 1993, p. 22; September 12, 1994, p. 37. □
"Mario Lemieux." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mario-lemieux
"Mario Lemieux." Encyclopedia of World Biography. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mario-lemieux
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Mario Lemieux (ləmyö´), 1965–, Canadian ice hockey player, b. Montreal. A star for the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was the team's first pick in the 1984 National Hockey League (NHL) draft and was Rookie of the Year. He led the Penguins to their only Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Plagued by back injuries, he was also diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease in 1993. After treatment, he played during 1993–94, took 1994–95 off, and returned for the 1995–97 seasons. In 1997 he retired and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Lemieux headed an investment group that bought the Penguins in 1999, and he returned to play in 2000, scoring 35 goals as he led his team to the playoffs. He retired for good in 2006, with a total of 690 goals, 1,033 assists, and 1,723 points. He led the league in scoring for six seasons and was named most valuable player three times (1988, 1993, 1996).
"Lemieux, Mario." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario
"Lemieux, Mario." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario
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(b. 5 October 1965 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Hall of Fame hockey player and team owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first player in the National Hockey League to score seventy goals in a season, and one of the first professional athletes to own a team for which he had played.
Born in the suburb of Ville Emard, Montreal, Lemieux was the youngest of three sons born to Jean-Guy, a construction worker, and Pierrette Lemieux. He began skating at about the age of two and was playing hockey by age five. By the time he was twelve years old, Lemieux was already cognizant of his budding strength and skills on the ice. As with many dedicated athletes before him, his sport took a central place in his life. He dropped out of school at sixteen, having completed tenth grade, to devote himself full-time to hockey. Two years later, while playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the Laval Voisins, Lemieux scored a record-setting 282 points. The next year, 1984, Lemieux was selected as the number-one first-round draft pick in the National Hockey League (NHL) draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, whose dismal record in the previous year gave them draft priority. Viewed as the top prospect by the Pittsburgh coaches and management, the talented young Lemieux, a six-foot, four-inch, 220-pound left-handed shooter, appeared on the ice for the Penguins just days after his nineteenth birthday. Wearing the number 66, Lemieux skated out on his first shift in the first period of his first game and shot the first of his hundreds of goals with his very first attempt.
Lemieux's career-long relationship with the Penguins began with a team that was dispirited by its previous record. Despite its lackluster history, the franchise began to turn around after Lemieux's appearance. Lemieux won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year with 43 goals and 57 assists, becoming only the third rookie to score 100 points. In the following year he was selected for the Lester B. Pearson Award, voted by the NHL players themselves for Most Valuable Player (MVP). That year he had 141 points on 48 goals and 93 assists. The next season saw an even more spectacular performance, with Lemieux earning 168 points (70 goals, 98 assists) and winning both the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL's MVP and the Art Ross Trophy for his scoring abilities. In the 1988–1989 season, Lemieux had his best year ever, concluding the regular season with an amazing 199 points on 85 goals and 114 assists. He again earned the Art Ross Trophy.
The 1989–1990 season also began what was to become a lengthy battle against injury resulting from a herniated disk in Lemieux's back; he played in fifty-nine games that season and only twenty-six in the following year. Ironically, in the 1990–1991 season the Penguins succeeded in returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs and finally captured their elusive first Stanley Cup. Despite his prolonged injury, Lemieux was the recipient of that year's Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP in the playoffs. With 131 points by the end of the 1991–1992 season, Lemieux had again earned the Art Ross Trophy, and with the team playing better than ever, he went on to earn a second Stanley Cup and a second Conn Smythe Trophy.
In the 1992–1993 season Lemieux once again won the Hart Trophy and was selected for the Lester B. Pearson Award. On 26 June 1993 Lemieux married Nathalie Asselin; they have four children. The future appeared grim despite these glowing achievements, for Lemieux soon was diagnosed with nodular lymphocytic Hodgkin disease, a form of cancer. He underwent radiation treatment and played in only twenty-two games in the 1993–1994 season; he sat out the following year to allow time to recover from his back pain as well as from the effects of his battle with cancer. During this time, Lemieux was the recipient of the Masterton Trophy for "perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."
That Lemieux is an extremely dedicated athlete is evidenced by his performance when he returned to the Penguins in the 1995–1996 season; he scored 161 points (69 goals, 92 assists) and once again captured both the Hart Trophy and the Art Ross Trophy. Winning the Art Ross again the following year also placed Lemieux as one of the few in the sport to have had ten consecutive years at or above 100 points in the regular season. At the end of that season, in 1997, Lemieux left the Penguins, retiring because he felt at the time that hockey had degenerated into a fighting game. During these years as a Pittsburgh Penguin, Lemieux won a berth on the NHL First All-Star team a total of five times. Lemieux was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997.
Lemieux's role in the history of hockey and of the Penguins franchise was by no means finished with the athlete's retirement from play. Soon, as the franchise's fortunes dwindled, it appeared that the team would be sold and probably moved away from Pittsburgh. Ultimately, Lemieux himself purchased the organization from the owning partnership, vowing to keep the team in its hometown. Then the sports world was even more astounded when Lemieux announced after a three-and-a-half-year absence that he would return to the ice, again as center for the Penguins. The much-publicized return took place in December 2000. Lemieux's number, 66, and jersey, which had been retired and hung in the rafters, were brought back into play as he resumed his position as the team's leading athlete. In 43 games played before the end of the season, Lemieux earned 76 points on 35 goals and 41 assists, proving him a major asset once again to the Penguins. The team made it to the playoffs but lost the Eastern Conference finals to the New Jersey Devils. At the end of the 2000–2001 season, Lemieux had amassed 1,570 regular season points (in 788 games on 648 goals and 922 assists) and 172 career points in postseason play (107 games on 76 goals and 96 assists). Lemieux is the only player-owner in the league.
Throughout his career Lemieux's play has been characterized by the use of his formidable physical presence, his quick and skilled stick handling, and an impressive ability to predict the path of the puck during intense action, especially near the net. Over the years his style of play has developed from relying on strength and speed to incorporating these elements with steadiness and flashes of artistry on the ice. Lemieux also is admired for his stoic approach to a series of very serious health threats, all of which he appears to have conquered.
Lemieux's career timeline and statistics are cited in "Mario: A Tribute," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,http://www.post-gazette.com/mario/, and in "Mario Lemieux," Pittsburgh Penguins, http://www.pittsburghpenguins.com/team/bio-Lemieux.asp. For more detailed information see Chrys Goyens and Frank Orr, MarioLemieux: Over Time (2001), and Tim O'Shei, Mario Lemieux (2001).
James J. Sullivan
"Lemieux, Mario." Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures. . Encyclopedia.com. (September 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario
"Lemieux, Mario." Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Thematic Series: Sports Figures. . Retrieved September 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/lemieux-mario