Beckett Hockey Card Monthly #10 August 1991 – Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux, OC CQ(Born October 5, 1965) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. He played parts of 17 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1984 to 2006, assuming ownership in 1999. Nicknamed “The Magnificent One” or Le Magnifique (as well as “Super Mario”), he is widely acknowledged to have been one of the greatest players of all time. A gifted playmaker and fast skater despite his large size, Lemieux often beat defencemen with fakes and dekes.
.Lemieux led Pittsburgh to consecutive Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Under his ownership, the Penguins won additional titles in 2009, 2016, and 2017. 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. He 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 as playoffs MVP in 1991 and 1992. He is the only player to score one goal in each of the five possible situations in a single NHL game, a feat he accomplished in 1988. At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL’s seventh-highest career points scorer with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. He ranks second in NHL history with a 0.754 career goals-per-game average, behind only Mike Bossy (0.762). Perhaps astonishingly, in Lemieux’s entire career he played in 70 or more games in a season on only six occasions, and he played in every game of the season on zero occasions. In 2004, he was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame.
Lemieux’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 of 2005–2006. Lemieux’s NHL debut was 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. He retired on two separate occasions due to these health issues, first in 1997 after battling lymphoma before returning in 2000, and then a second and final time in 2006 after being diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. Lemieux also missed the entire 1994–95 season due to Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Despite his lengthy absences from the game, his 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 Trophy when he made his comeback in 2000. In 1999, he bought the then-bankrupt Penguins and their top minor-league affiliate, the American Hockey League‘s (AHL) Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, and is currently the team’s principal owner and chairman.
The Hockey Hall of Fame inducted Lemieux 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. Lemieux’s impact on the NHL has been significant: Andrew Conte of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review called him the saviour of the Pittsburgh Penguins, and after Lemieux’s retirement, Wayne Gretzky commented that “You don’t replace players like Mario Lemieux … The game will miss him.” Bobby Orr called him “the most talented player I’ve ever seen.” Orr, along with Bryan Trottier and numerous fans, speculated that if Lemieux had not suffered so many issues with his health, his on-ice achievements would have been much greater. In 2017, he was named one of the “100 Greatest NHL Players“….