Thursday, January 20, 2011
Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins scored his 100th point of the season for the fourth straight year when he scored a goal in an 8-3 Penguins win over the Chicago Black Hawks on this date in 1988.
Also on this date, exactly one year later, Lemieux topped that feat by becoming only the second player in NHL history, after Wayne Gretzky, to score his 50th goal in less than 50 games in a 7-4 Penguins loss to the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg.
Lemieux's 50th goal came in his 44th game (officially Pittsburgh's 46th game) and made him the the Penguins all-time leading scorer with 637 points in just his 336th game, passing Rick Kehoe's 636 points, which took Kehoe 722 games to reach, 386 more games than Lemieux, considerably more than twice as many.
Maurice Richard was the first player in league history to attain 50 goals in 50 games in 1945. It would take 36 years for Mike Bossy to equal Richard with two dramatic goals in the final five minutes of his 50th game.
Gretzky joined the 50 in 50 club in grand style, requiring just 39 games when he scored an incredible nine goals in two consecutive games to reach the exclusive milestone before New Year's Eve. He repeated the 50 in 50 feat twice more, in 1983-84 in 42 games and again in 1984-85, which took 49 games, making him the only man to ever do so three times.
Lemieux would go on to finish the season with 85 goals and 114 assists for 199 points to lead the NHL in scoring that season to win his second consecutive Art Ross Trophy. His 85 goals made him only the second player to ever score more than 70 in a season. In addition, 13 of his goals were scored while the Penguins were shorthanded, an NHL record which still stands today, more than 20 years later and one of four offensive records Lemeiux still holds.
In addition to his 50 goals in 46 games, Lemieux's 1988-89 season is remembered for his remarkable game on New Year's Eve when he score eight points, highlighted by his five goals scored in all five possible ways, even strength, power play, shorthanded, penalty shot and empty net!
Today's featured jersey is a 1988-89 Pittsburgh Penguins Mario Lemieux jersey. Penguins jerseys were in a time of transition in 1988-89. Starting in 1984, the font for the names on the back now had serifs. The sleeve numbers were still located in the white shoulder area and both the names and numbers were heat sealed onto the jerseys with a plasticky material.
For 1988-89 the numbers were relocated farther down the arms into the gold area on both the home and away jerseys before a new set of jerseys later that season would see a new taller and thinner font for both the numbers as well as the names, which were now sans-serif. Additionally, they would be made of twill material from then on, which were now all sewn on rather than heat sealed as in the past.
Frustratingly, we could not find video of Lemieux scoring his 50th goal in 46 games, so in today's video segment, we feature Lemieux's Top 10 plays, as some of his assists are as spectacular as his goals.
The well trained eye will notice the numbers on his jersey changing places from the shoulders to the arms depending on which season the highlights are from.
Here are Lemieux's five goals in five ways from New Year's Eve in 1988. Notice the "hybrid" style of jersey, the same today's featured jersey, with the old serifed font for the name, but the numbers in the new lower position on the arms prior to the change in font to the shorter, more squarish style worn while Pittsburgh won their first two Stanley Cups in 1991 & 1992.