Mario Lemieux

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CanadaCanada  Mario Lemieux Ice hockey player
Hockey Hall of Fame , 1997
IIHF Hall of Fame , 2008
Mario Lemieux
Date of birth October 5, 1965
place of birth Montreal , Quebec , Canada
Nickname Le Magnifique, Super Mario
size 193 cm
Weight approx. 105 kg
position center
number # 66
Shot hand Right
NHL Entry Draft 1984 , 1st lap, 1st position
Pittsburgh Penguins
Career stations
1981-1984 Voisins de Laval
1984-1997 Pittsburgh Penguins
2000-2006 Pittsburgh Penguins

Mario Lemieux , OC , CQ ([ maʁjo ləmjø ]; born October 5, 1965 in Montreal , Québec ) is a former Canadian ice hockey player and current official. He played from 1984 to 2006 in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Pittsburgh Penguins on the position of the center . Lemieux is considered to be one of the best players ever. In his 17 seasons NHL career, he won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins . His other individual awards include being named the most valuable player in the NHL three times and winning the Art Ross Trophy six times as the league's best scorer .

Lemieux's career has been overshadowed by several, often serious illnesses. In 1993 he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma , which meant that he had to skip the entire 1994/95 season and finally, after successfully treating the disease, declared his career over in 1997. Thereupon the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the usual waiting period of at least three years and accepted Lemieux as a member on November 17, 1997. After three years, Lemieux announced his return to the ice in December 2000 and completed 170 games for Pittsburgh by the end of his career in January 2006, in which he scored 229 points . In total, "Le Magnifique" played 915 games in the National Hockey League, scoring 690 goals and 1,723 points. With an average of 1.883 points per game, he is the second most successful scorer in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky (1.921 points per game).

At international level, Mario Lemieux won gold medals with the Canadian national team at the 1987 Canada Cup , the 2002 Winter Olympics and the 2004 World Cup of Hockey .

In 1999, Lemieux bought the Pittsburgh Penguins, which were threatened with bankruptcy and liquidation at the time, and has since been chairman of the board and, together with Ronald Burkle, owner of the franchise . He is also chairman of the Mario Lemieux Foundation , which is dedicated to research into Hodgkin's lymphoma and the medical treatment of newborns.

Origin and youth (1965–1981)

Mario Lemieux was born on October 5, 1965 in Montreal in the Canadian province of Québec . His father Jean-Guy Lemieux worked as a construction worker, his mother Pierrette was a housewife. Together with his two older brothers Alain and Richard, he grew up in the working-class district of Ville-Émard in the Le Sud-Ouest district . At the age of three he was given his first pair of ice skates. He and his brothers played hockey in the basement of the house, using wooden spoons as sticks and empty plastic bottles as pucks . In winter, Lemieux's parents carried snow into the hallway, dining room, and living room and let it freeze overnight so the children could ice-skate around the house. In addition, there was an ice hockey rink in the immediate vicinity of the residential building.

Lemieux joined the Montréal Hurricanes junior team and quickly earned a reputation as the best young player in Québec. With the Hurricanes he took part in numerous junior tournaments across Québec and sometimes up to 5,000 spectators attended the games of the Hurricanes to see the six-year-old play. In addition to his skating qualities, his overview on the ice as well as his instinct stood out positively. Lemieux's status as an exceptional athlete sometimes led to his being mocked and insulted by supporters of opposing teams and, in some cases, pelted with filth and spat on.

One of the first National Hockey League officials to see Lemieux play and recognize his potential is coach Scotty Bowman . He predicted an excellent NHL career for the then twelve-year-old Lemieux, described him as the greatest talent he had ever seen and compared him to Wayne Gretzky , who at the time was 17 years old in the professional league World Hockey Association . Bowman's assessment piqued the interest of Gretzky's agent Bob Perno, who signed him after personally verifying the player's abilities. Perno finally convinced Lemieux to switch to shirt number 66 in the course of his move to the Ligue de hockey junior majeur du Québec (LHJMQ) to symbolize the comparison with Gretzky, whose shirt number 99 was his trademark. Lemieux himself originally favored the shirt number 27, which his oldest brother Alain already wore. For the Montréal Hurricanes, he was number 12 on.

Laval Voisins (1981-1984)

Lemieux in the jersey of the Voisins de Laval (1984).

At the age of 16, Mario Lemieux moved to the LHJMQ and joined the Voisins de Laval from the city of Laval near Montreal . The Voisins owned the rights to the player, as they had selected him in the summer of 1981 in the course of the LHJMQ Midget Draft in first overall position. In the course of the change, he left school before the tenth grade; Lemieux , who comes from French-speaking Québec, also attended an English language course because, like his parents, he only knew a few words and phrases in English and he considered mastering the language to be essential for a later professional career.

Lemieux completed 64 games for the Voisins de Laval in the LHJMQ season 1981/82 and was immediately the team's most successful player with 94 scorer points . In the following season he was able to increase his points yield considerably and achieve 184 points in 66 games, including 100 assists . He was the third best scorer in the league after Pat LaFontaine (234) and Claude Verret (188).

Before his third and final season in the LHJMQ, the Voisins appointed him their team captain . Lemieux set new and still valid LHJMQ scoring records this season: He scored 133 goals in 70 games and a total of 282 points scorer. His 149 assists were also the second most in league history ( Pierre Larouche scored 157). In the play-offs of this season he reached the final for the Coupe du Président , the championship trophy of the LHJMQ, with the Voisins after victories over the Granby Bisons and the Voltigeurs de Drummondville . In the final round, which was held in the best-of-seven mode, Laval defeated the Chevaliers de Longueuil with 4-2 wins.

Lemieux was honored with numerous awards after the season, including the Trophée Michel Brière and the Trophée Guy Lafleur as most valuable player of the regular season and the play-offs; he was also named CHL Player of the Year by the Canadian Hockey League . By winning the LHJMQ championship, the Voisins earned themselves participation in the Memorial Cup 1984 , from which they were eliminated in the preliminary round.

Pittsburgh Penguins (1984–1997)

1984 NHL Entry Draft

Even before his entry into the National Hockey League (NHL), Lemieux was considered an exceptional player whose skills far exceeded those of other top junior players from the 1970s and 1980s. His name first appeared in national newspapers at the age of nine, and by his teenage years he was watched by scouts from the NHL franchises at nearly every game . Although the 1984 NHL Entry Draft featured several high profile players - including future Hockey Hall of Fame members Brett Hull , Luc Robitaille and Patrick Roy - there was no doubt that Lemieux would be voted first overall and the NHL for theirs coming superstar would "roll out the red carpet ". The fact that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation first broadcast the draft nationwide on television can be seen as an indication of the sensation the player caused .

The Pittsburgh Penguins were the worst team in the league at the end of the 1983/84 NHL season and consequently had the first vote for the upcoming draft. Pittsburgh had lost 17 of their last 21 games, slipping behind the New Jersey Devils , who had long been at the bottom of the table. Bob Butera , then President of the Devils, accused the Penguins of deliberately losing games in order to reach the bottom of the table and thereby secure the rights to Lemieux. Towards the end of the season, the talented defender Randy Carlyle was transferred to the Winnipeg Jets and goalkeeper Roberto Romano , after previous convincing performances, was sent to the Baltimore Clippers farm team in the American Hockey League . Substitute goalkeeper Vincent Tremblay was called from Baltimore to “see what he can do.” Tremblay played in the remaining four games of the season, all of which were lost, and scored 6 goals per game. It was also his last appearance in the National Hockey League.

After the penguins had secured the right to vote, they immediately began contract negotiations, which, however, progressed unsatisfactorily for Lemieux. As a result, he refused to shake hands with General Manager Eddie Johnston on draft day after he was selected as expected in first position and, contrary to NHL tradition, did not pull on the club's jersey. On June 19, 1984, the two parties finally agreed on a three-year contract worth $ 575,000. It was the most expensive contract an NHL rookie had ever signed . Lemieux also received a signature bonus of $ 150,000.

"Rescue" the penguins

The Pittsburgh Penguins, who were financially troubled and athletically unsuccessful in the early 1980s, were threatened with relocation to Hamilton, Canada ; the arrival of Lemieux changed this without further ado. Around 3,000 fans in the Civic Arena , Pittsburgh's home ground, had already followed the draft ; for comparison, the average audience in the 1983/84 season in the 16,033-seat arena was only 6,839 visitors. Pittsburgh's Marketing Director Paul Steigerwald described the low point of the penguins in such a way that only 3,800 spectators came into the arena and the majority of the players booed and professed them with profanity; some carried paper bags over their heads.

In the first two seasons after Lemieux's engagement, the average rose by a total of almost 74% to initially 10,018 (1984/85) and finally 11,864 spectators (1985/86) per game. During his second season in professional ice hockey, the management of the Penguins made no secret of the fact that the franchise is still based in Pittsburgh thanks to Mario Lemieux and that the 20-year-old means “everything” to the club. Circumstances led to comparisons with Bobby Orr , whose arrival at the Boston Bruins in 1966 had a similar effect and culminated in two Stanley Cup victories in 1970 and 1972.

Establishment as a superstar

In terms of sport, Lemieux immediately fulfilled all expectations placed on him. He played his first game on October 11, 1984 against the Boston Bruins. In this game he made his first assist 18 seconds after the start of the game after teammate Doug Shedden pushed his pass past Boston goalkeeper Pete Peeters into the goal. 60 seconds later he scored his first goal with his first shot on goal. Lemieux achieved 100 scorer points in his first season as the third rookie in NHL history after Peter Šťastný (109) and Dale Hawerchuk (103). He received the Calder Memorial Trophy as the best new professional in the National Hockey League and was honored as the most valuable player in the NHL All-Star Game .

In his second NHL season, Lemieux reached 141 scorer points in 79 games, making him the second best point collector behind Wayne Gretzky, who set a record that is still valid today with 215 points. Nevertheless, he and not Gretzky was awarded the Lester B. Pearson Award as the best player in the NHL . After a third season marked by injuries, Lemieux was the first NHL top scorer in 1987/88 and consequently won his first Art Ross Trophy . In addition, he was honored as the most valuable player with the Hart Memorial Trophy . The following season was to be his statistically most successful for Lemieux: The center scored 85 goals and 114 assists in 76 games and was again the best scorer in the league with a total of 199 points. The Penguins qualified for the first time with Lemieux for the play-offs of the Stanley Cup, in which they were subject to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round . The following year, Lemieux scored at least one point in 46 consecutive games, making it the second longest series of points in NHL history (Gretzky, 51). In addition, on December 31, 1988 he was the first and to this day only player to achieve five goals in one game in all five different game situations: 5 against 5, in power play , outnumbered , with a penalty and into an empty goal . On January 20, 1989 Lemieux scored his 50th goal of the season in the 7-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets in Pittsburgh's 46th game of the season and was the fourth player in NHL history to succeed after Maurice Richard , Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky to achieve the special achievement of 50 goals in 50 games . In the same game he also overtook Rick Kehoe as the Penguins' most successful scorer to date.

Despite Lemieux's individual achievements, some critics accused the player of a one-dimensional game and lack of commitment and, due to the outstanding Stanley Cup win, assumed that he cares more about his own statistics than about the success of the team.

Stanley Cup successes

Lemieux in the Pittsburgh Penguins jersey (1992).

From the 1989/90 season, Mario Lemieux suffered from persistent back problems, which resulted in numerous operations over the course of his career and made it impossible for him to tie up his skates due to the pain, among other things. In July 1990, Lemieux missed the first 50 games of the 1990/91 season due to a rare bone disease as a result of an infection after a disc operation.

The Pittsburgh Penguins appointed Bob Johnson as head coach before the season and signed Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson, among others, during the season . Then, paired with the performance of rookie Jaromír Jágr , who was selected in the NHL Entry Draft in 1990 by the Penguins in fifth place, and Lemieux's return to the Pittsburgh squad in late January 1991, a significant increase in performance. In the last 14 games of the regular season, the Penguins caught up ten points behind the New York Rangers and won the Patrick Division for the first time . In the 1991 play-offs, the team defeated the New Jersey Devils , the Washington Capitals and the Boston Bruins, as well as the Minnesota North Stars in the Stanley Cup final . It was the Penguins' first Stanley Cup win. Lemieux scored 44 points in 23 games and was honored as the most valuable player of the play-offs with the Conn Smythe Trophy .

On August 29, 1991, Bob Johnson was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The trainer was hospitalized and died on November 26th. Scotty Bowman was appointed as the new coach on October 2nd, initially on an interim basis . On March 24, 1992 Lemieux scored against the Detroit Red Wings in his 513rd NHL game, his 1000th scorer point. Lemieux missed 16 games in 1991/92 due to injury, but with 131 points he was the top scorer of the NHL for the third time in five years. Pittsburgh qualified as the third-placed team in the Patrick Division for the play-offs and reached the final of the Stanley Cup again after victories against Washington, New York and Boston. The Penguins won the best-of-seven series against the Chicago Blackhawks with a sweep (i.e. without loss) and Lemieux was then again awarded as a play-off MVP.

Following the season, Lemieux signed a new seven-year contract worth $ 42 million, making him the highest paid player in the league.

Cancer and resignation

On January 12, 1993, Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma and underwent radiation therapy for almost two months . He missed a total of 24 games and flew to Philadelphia on the evening of his last treatment on March 2, 1993 and immediately scored a goal and an assist in the game against the Flyers. After Lemieux's return, the Penguins won 17 games in a row between March 9 and April 10, setting a new NHL record. The 119 points collected during the regular season were also the most in the league and consequently led to Pittsburgh's first win of the Presidents' Trophy . Despite having cancer, Mario Lemieux was again the most successful NHL scorer with 160 points from 60 games; his average points from the 1992/93 season of 2.67 per game is the third highest in NHL history (Gretzky, 2.77 (1983/84) and 2.69 (1985/86)). In the 1993 play-offs, the Penguins were eliminated in the second round against the New York Islanders . Lemieux was honored for the second time after 1988 with the Hart Memorial Trophy after the season and received the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in recognition of his “extraordinary passion and dedication for ice hockey” .

Lemieux underwent his second back operation in three years on July 28, 1993 and therefore completed only 22 of 80 possible games in the 1993/94 season due to persistent back pain . On August 29, 1994, he announced that he would be suspending the entire 1994/95 season from ice hockey, as he was feeling fatigue as a late consequence of the radiation therapy in spring 1993; he also hoped that the time-out would ease the pain in his back. After the break, he presented himself in impressive form: In the NHL season 1995/96 he scored 69 goals in 70 games and a total of 161 points scorer. Again he led the top scorer list and was awarded as the seventh player in NHL history for the third time with the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player in the league. The Pittsburgh Penguins reached the Eastern Conference final in the 1996 play-offs and were subject to the Florida Panthers .

In the following off-season (break between two seasons), Mario Lemieux decided to end his playing career after the 1996/97 season. As a justification, he cited uncertain long-term effects regarding his back ailment; he also wants to spend more time with his children. The announcement of his resignation did not detract from his athletic performance in what was supposedly his last season in the NHL. Lemieux won his sixth and final Art Ross Trophy thanks to 122 points from 76 games and was elected to the NHL First All-Star Team for the fifth time . His last game for the time being, he played on April 26, 1997. The 3-6 defeat against the Philadelphia Flyers was also synonymous with Pittsburgh elimination from the 1997 play-offs.

At the time of his first resignation, Lemieux had played in 745 of 1020 possible games. In the 1990s alone he missed more than three full seasons due to injury. Lemieux scored 613 goals and 881 assists for a total of 1,494 points scorer. His average points per game of 2.01 and his goal statistics of 0.82 per game were NHL records.

Takeover of the penguins

At the end of Lemieux's career, interest in the penguins waned and audience numbers dropped significantly. For example, almost 30% fewer season tickets were sold in 1998/99 than in Lemieux 'last season in 1996/97. Coupled with a dramatic increase in player salaries (from $ 9 million in 1991 to $ 34 million in 1999) and the almost 40-year-old, unprofitable Civic Arena, the Penguins' debts grew to around $ 100 million. Lemieux itself was the franchise 's largest creditor with around $ 26 million in salary payments outstanding . The two owners Roger Marino and Howard Baldwin argued so publicly about the direction and future of the team that the National Hockey League forbade both officials to continue to comment in public about the other. On October 13, 1998, the Pittsburgh Penguins filed for bankruptcy .

Lemieux's advisory staff developed a business model that was to pay off all debtors and make the team profitable again. A significant part should be financed by investors. The billionaire Ronald Burkle , who supported the risky venture with a large sum of money, played a major role in the successful search for investors . After having breakfast with Lemieux's group in March 1999, they had "$ 20 million and instant credibility." Lemieux also agreed to convert $ 20 million of his outstanding salary payments into stock shares, leaving the franchise to owe him only $ 6 million. In total, they activated just under a dozen investors and on September 1, the NHL Board of Governors approved the takeover.

Comeback and end of career (2000-2006)

Mario Lemieux after his return to the Penguins (2001).

In December 2000, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced Mario Lemieux's return as an active player. The then 35-year-old was "in better physical and mental shape than when he was 22 or 23" and had been doing strength and endurance training since November 2000. To avoid conflicts of interest, he had to hand over his voting rights as a franchise owner to a deputy on the NHL Board of Governments.

Lemieux ran on December 27, 2000 after a 44-month hiatus on again in an NHL game. In the Penguins' 5-0 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs , he immediately scored one goal and two assists. Five weeks after his comeback, he took part in the 2001 NHL All-Star Game . In total, he completed 43 games for the Penguins in the 2000/01 NHL season , achieving 76 scorer points. The average of 1.77 points per game was a league record. In the play-offs 2001, the Penguins failed in the Eastern Conference final to the New Jersey Devils . Although Lemieux only played 43 out of a maximum of 82 games, he was nominated at the end of the season for both the Hart Memorial Trophy as the most valuable player and for the Lester B. Pearson Award , which is given to the best player in the league. Both trophies, however, received Joe Sakic of the Colorado Avalanche . In addition, he was elected to the NHL Second All-Star Team .

In the following season Lemieux was only able to play in 24 games due to a hip injury. In the 2002/03 season, however, he remained largely injury-free and was Pittsburgh's best scorer with 91 points from 67 games. At the beginning of the 2003/04 season , he was only the sixth player in NHL history to reach 1,700 points, but after ten games on November 1, 2003 in a game against the Boston Bruins , he was injured again on the hip and fell after a necessary underwent surgery in January 2004 for the remainder of the season.

After the following season was completely canceled by a lockout ("lockout"), Lemieux played 26 games for Pittsburgh in 2005/06 . On December 7, 2005 he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation , nine days later he played his 915th and last NHL game against the Buffalo Sabers before the arrhythmia made him unable to play for an indefinite period of time. Mario Lemieux announced his final retirement on January 24 at the age of 40. He justified his decision with the high health risk that he no longer wanted to take, and he also felt side effects from the drugs for his heart disease. In addition, it frustrates him not to be able to play at the level he is used to; the "new NHL" after the lockout is no longer suitable for older players.

International career with the Canadian national team

Mario Lemieux represented his home country with the Canadian national team for the first time at the Junior World Championship in 1983 , where he was the second best scorer of the Canadians behind Dave Andreychuk and won the bronze medal with his team. Two years later he made his debut in the Canadian men's team at the 1985 Ice Hockey World Championship . At the tournament held in Czechoslovakia , the Canadians took second place behind the selection of hosts .

Lemieux won his first gold medal on an international level at the 1987 Canada Cup . In this top-class tournament, he played for the only time in a major competition together with Wayne Gretzky in an attack series. After a 5-3 win against the Czechoslovak team in the semifinals, the Canadians defeated the Soviet national team in the best-of-three final after three games. All games ended 6: 5, the first two only after overtime . Gretzky was the best point collector of the tournament with 21 points from 9 games; Lemieux was the most successful goalscorer with 11 goals scored.

After a 15-year hiatus, Lemieux only returned to his next appearance for the Canadian team at the 2002 Winter Olympics . At this tournament, Lemieux , who had been named team captain , reached the final with his team after winning the final round over Finland and Belarus . Canada defeated the US national team 5-2; it was Canada's first Olympic gold medal in ice hockey in 50 years. Lemieux was behind Joe Sakic with six points from five games, the team's second-best scorer. Since he already played with hip problems during the 2001/02 NHL season and could only play one game for the Pittsburgh Penguins after the Olympic tournament before he was out for the rest of the season, the Pittsburgh local press criticized Lemieux for having set his priorities wrong (Team Canada via the Penguins) and should have skipped at least some Olympic ice hockey games. His behavior is treason towards his employer, the city of Pittsburgh and the fans of the Penguins.

Lemieux played his last international games at the 2004 World Cup of Hockey , which the Canadians won. He was also nominated for the squad at the 2006 Winter Olympics, but declined to participate due to his health and ended his career before the tournament began.

Career statistics

Regular season Play-offs
season team league Sp T V Pt +/- SM Sp T V Pt +/- SM
1981/82 Voisins de Laval LHJMQ 64 30th 66 96 22nd 18th 5 9 14th 31
1982/83 Voisins de Laval LHJMQ 66 84 100 184 76 12 14th 18th 32 18th
1983/84 Voisins de Laval LHJMQ 70 133 149 282 92 14th 29 23 52 29
1984 Voisins de Laval Memorial Cup 3 1 2 3 0
1984/85 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 73 43 57 100 −35 54 - - - - - -
1985/86 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 79 48 93 141 −6 43 - - - - - -
1986/87 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 63 54 53 107 +13 57 - - - - - -
1987/88 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 77 70 98 168 +23 92 - - - - - -
1988/89 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 85 114 199 +41 100 11 12 7th 19th −1 16
1989/90 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 59 45 78 123 −18 78 - - - - - -
1990/91 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 26th 19th 26th 45 +8 30th 23 16 28 44 +14 16
1991/92 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 64 44 87 131 +27 94 15th 16 18th 34 +6 2
1992/93 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 60 69 91 160 +55 38 11 8th 10 18th +2 10
1993/94 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 22nd 17th 20th 37 −2 32 6th 4th 3 7th −4 2
1994/95 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL not played because of cancer
1995/96 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 70 69 92 161 +10 54 18th 11 16 27 +3 33
1996/97 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 50 72 122 +27 65 5 3 3 6th −4 4th
1997/98 without a contract not played after resigning due to cancer
1998/99 without a contract not played after resigning due to cancer
1999/00 without a contract not played after resigning due to cancer
2000/01 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 43 35 41 76 +15 18th 18th 6th 11 17th +4 4th
2001/02 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 24 6th 25th 31 ± 0 14th - - - - - -
2002/03 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 67 28 63 91 −25 43 - - - - - -
2003/04 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 10 1 8th 9 −2 6th - - - - - -
2004/05 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL not played because of lockout
2005/06 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 26th 7th 15th 22nd −16 16 - - - - - -
LHJMQ total 200 247 315 562 190 44 48 50 98 78
NHL overall 915 690 1033 1723 +115 834 107 76 96 172 +20 87


Represented Canada to:


Represented the National Hockey League at:

year team event result Sp T V Pt SM
1983 Canada June World Cup 3rd place, bronze 7th 5 5 10 12
1985 Canada WM 2nd place, silver 9 4th 6th 10 2
1987 NHL All-Stars Date - 2 0 3 3 0
1987 Canada Canada Cup 1st place, gold 9 11 7th 18th 8th
2002 Canada Olympia 1st place, gold 5 2 4th 6th 0
2004 Canada World cup 1st place, gold 6th 1 4th 5 2
Juniors overall 7th 5 5 10 12
Men overall 31 18th 24 42 12

( Legend for player statistics: Sp or GP = games played; T or G = goals scored; V or A = assists scored ; Pkt or Pts = scorer points scored ; SM or PIM = penalty minutes received ; +/− = plus / minus balance; PP = overpaid goals scored ; SH = underpaid goals scored ; GW = winning goals scored; 1  play-downs / relegation )


A statue was erected in front of Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center in honor of Lemieux in 2012 .

After his first resignation in 1997, the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the usual waiting period of at least three years and accepted Lemieux as a member on November 17, 1997. Two days later, his jersey with the number 66 on the back was hung by the Pittsburgh Penguins on the roof of the Civic Arena, this number has not been given to any other Penguins player since then. In May 1997, the space behind the Civic Arena was also renamed “Mario Lemieux Place”, whereby the address of the venue was “500 Mario Lemieux Place” until it was dismantled in September 2011. In 2008 Lemieux was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame .

In June 2004, Lemieux received a star on Canada's Walk of Fame in Toronto . In 2009 he was awarded the Knightly Order of the Ordre national du Québec , a year later he was honored with Canada's highest distinction for civilians, the Order of Canada ( Officer of the Order of Canada / Officier de l'Ordre du Canada in the second highest class ) .

On March 7, 2012, a statue in honor of Lemieux was erected in front of Pittsburgh's newly built Consol Energy Center home ground . A game situation from 1988 is shown in which Lemieux passes between two defenders of the New York Islanders and scores a goal. It took sculptor Bruce Wolfe 15 months to complete.

In addition, the Order of Hockey in Canada accepted Lemieux in 2016, honoring him for his services to ice hockey in Canada.

Play style

Mario Lemieux was a player of tall and stout stature who, however, rarely used his physical attributes to get past opposing players. Instead, he used his skating skills, which were known to be excellent, or played quick deceptive maneuvers to get to the end of the goal or to stage better-positioned teammates. Lemieux 'comparatively long limbs, called "spider-like", enabled him to quickly reach around and run around opponents and thus to get to the puck in front of them or to separate from the opponent.

At the height of his career, Lemieux was considered the best one-on-one player in history. According to experts in ice hockey, a player should never have had his combination of talent and physical presence, paired with a quick start, accurate passes and a hard, accurate shot.

Activities as a functionary

Mario Lemieux at the Victory Parade after Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup in June 2009.

In early October 2006, the Pittsburgh Penguins board of directors agreed to sell the franchise to the Canadian businessman and co- CEO of BlackBerry , Jim Balsillie . The purchase price was around 175 million US dollars. In December 2006, however, Balsillie withdrew his offer because, in his opinion, the National Hockey League had attached too many conditions to the sale. Among other things, Balsillie should guarantee that the franchise would stay in Pittsburgh. The league also required the right to own or manage the penguins under certain circumstances.

The future of the Penguins was uncertain, as the lease with the nearly 50-year-old Mellon Arena expired and the franchise saw the construction of a new stadium as a condition for economic success and thus for remaining in Pittsburgh. In addition to Balsillie's offer, there were also specific offers from Kansas City and Las Vegas . According to Lemieux, moving the franchise to another city was never seriously considered. Instead, the offers were only discussed publicly in order to put pressure on the city of Pittsburgh. In March 2007, Lemieux and co-owner Ronald Burkle's committee reached an agreement with the city of Pittsburgh after 18 months of negotiations on the construction of a new, US $ 290 million multi-functional arena, later the Consol Energy Center . The treaty guarantees the penguins will remain in Pittsburgh until 2037.


Lemieux has been married to his wife Nathalie since June 26, 1993. The wedding took place in the presence of almost 400 guests in the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal . They have four children together.

At the beginning of his career, Lemieux smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day. He later gave up smoking, presumably as a result of his cancer in 1993.

From 2009 Lemieux had a villa built in the Mont-Tremblant ski area in Québec . The almost 1400 m² property was built in the style of a Swiss castle and has 23 rooms, including ten bathrooms. The construction work was completed in the fall of 2012, the construction costs should have been around 20 million US dollars.

Achievements and Awards

Canadian Hockey League

National Hockey League

Award Year / season
Stanley Cup
(** = as a functionary)
1991 , 1992 , 2009 **, 2016 **
Hart Memorial Trophy
(NHL Most Valuable Player)
1988 , 1993 , 1996
Conn Smythe Trophy
(Most Valuable Player of the NHL Play-offs)
1991 , 1992
Lester B. Pearson Award
(NHL Best Player)
1986 , 1988 , 1993 , 1996
Art Ross Trophy
(Most scorer points in the NHL)
1988 , 1989 , 1992 , 1993 , 1996 , 1997
Top scorer
(Most goals in the NHL, since 2000 Maurice Richard Trophy )
1988 , 1989 , 1996
Calder Memorial Trophy
(NHL Best Rookie)
Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy
(Award for Dedication and Passion)
NHL Plus / Minus Award 1993
NHL First All-Star Team 1988 , 1989 , 1993 , 1996 , 1997
NHL Second All-Star Team 1986 , 1987 , 1992 , 2001
NHL All-Rookie Team 1985
NHL Player of the Year 1988 , 1989 , 1992
NHL Player of the Month
  • 1988: March, October, December
  • 1989: March
  • 1991: December
  • 1992: March, October, December
  • 1993: March
  • 1995: November
  • 1997: January
  • 2001: January
  • 2002: October
Participation in the NHL All-Star-Game
(** = MVP of the All-Star-Game)
1985 **, 1986 , 1988 **, 1989 , 1990 **, 1992 , 1996 , 1997 , 2001 , 2002



Web links

Commons : Mario Lemieux  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files


  • Matt Christopher, Glenn Stout: On the Ice with ... Mario Lemieux. Little, Brown and Company, New York 2002, ISBN 978-0-316-13799-7 .
  • Mark Stewart: Mario Lemieux: Own The Ice. Millbrook Press, Brookfield 2002, ISBN 0-7613-2555-7 .
  • Mike Leonetti: The Magnificent Mario. Northwinds Press, Toronto 2011, ISBN 978-1-4431-0705-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Christopher, Stout: On the Ice with ... Mario Lemieux. , 2002, p. 2.
  2. Christopher, Stout: On the Ice with ... Mario Lemieux. , 2002, pp. 2-3.
  3. a b Christopher, Stout: On the Ice with ... Mario Lemieux. , 2002, p. 4.
  4. a b c Shirley Fischler, Stan Fischler: Who's Who in Hockey. 2003, p. 240, ISBN 0-7407-1904-1
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This article was added to the list of excellent articles on September 29, 2014 in this version .