Tuesday, November 17, 2009
On this date in 1997, Mario Lemieux, along with Bryan Trottier, Glen Sather and Flyers' announcer Gene Hart, were named to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
A native on Montreal, Lemieux played three seasons with the Laval Voisin in the Quebec Major Junior League and set the record for most goals in a single season with 133 by scoring six goals in his final game of the season, along with six assists. He also set the single season points record with 282 and had a 62 game point scoring streak on his way to becoming the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year.
He was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1984 and scored a goal on his first shot during his first shift of his first NHL game. He would go on to become only the third rookie to score 100 or more points and be named the MVP of the NHL All-Star Game on his way to winning the Calder Trophy. He would close out his season by helping Canada beat the Soviet Union at the World Championships on the way to a silver medal.
Lemieux would score over 100 points in his first six seasons.
1987 would see Lemieux play for the NHL in the Rendez-vous series against the Soviet Union and then score the winning goal against the Soviets in the final game of the 1987 Canada Cup.
The following year he would win the scoring title for the first time, capturing the Art Ross Trophy for the first of six times, along with the Hart Memorial Trophy, which he would win three times, and Lester B. Pearson Award for the second of four times.
1990-91 would see Lemieux limited to just 26 regular season games, but he would return in time to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy as he would score 44 points in 23 games to lead the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup as champions of the NHL.
The Penguins would go back-to-back by winning the Stanley Cup again the following season and Lemieux would score 34 points in only 15 games to add a second Conn Smythe Trophy to his trophy case.
He would miss a month of the 1992-93 season undergoing radiation treatments for Hodgkin's Disease, but would still lead the league in scoring by 12 points over a Pat Lafontaine, who had played in all 84 games that season, which included a dramatic return to the ice for Lemieux on the day of his last radiation treatment when he scored both a goal and an assist after flying to Philadelphia. The Penguins would win 17 games in a row after his return and Lemieux would average over 2.5 points per game that season
He would miss 62 games in 1993-94, as a result of surgery and other back problems, and the entire 1994-95 season due to fatigue from the radiation treatments.
The 1995-96 season would see him score his 500th goal in his 605th game, the second quickest to reach that milestone after Wayne Gretzky, who needed 575 games. Lemieux would win the scoring title for the fifth time that season and again the next year for the sixth and final time before retiring at the conclusion of the season.
Lemieux would have the customary three year waiting period waived, just the ninth player given that honor, and be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on this day, November 17th, in 1997.
In 1999, Lemieux, owed millions of dollars in deferred salary by the Pittsburgh Penguins, became head of an ownership group who purchased the financially struggling Penguins. After being away from the game for three seasons, Lemieux announced his intention to return to the ice in late 2000, only the third member of the Hockey Hall of Fame to return to the ice, (after Gordie Howe and Guy Lafleur) and immediately picked up where he left off, scoring a goal and two assists in his first game back.
Injuries limited him to 24, 67, 10 and 26 games over the next four seasons, but he would capture an Olympic gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.
His final NHL career totals would show 690 goals and 1,033 assists for 1,723 points in 915 games, two Stanley Cups and 17 major trophies, including the Calder, Pearson, Ross, Hart, Smythe and Bill Masterton Trophies.
The Penguins Stanley Cup victory in 2009 would make Lemieux the only person to win the Stanley Cup as both player and as an owner.
Today's featured jersey is a CCM 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux jersey. This jersey features the Stanley Cup Centennial patch worn on all player's jerseys that season. This was also the first season for the newly redesigned Penguins jerseys, featuring what many would call "The Robo Penguin" logo.
Lemieux would win the Hart Trophy, the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, the Bill Masterton Trophy, have the best plus/minus rating in the NHL, be named a NHL First Team All-Star and win the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's Top Athlete that year.
I could post 100 videos about Lemieux and his career, but I prefer the excellent "Legends of Hockey" series for our first video.
Here is Mario's first NHL goal on his first shot on his first shift.
And here is Mario's first game back in his return from his retirement in 2000.
Finally, the video played on the occasion of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.