Of all the hockey players who have ever skated on all the ice surfaces in the history of the world, very few of the National Hockey League variety have ever scaled the heights of hockey highness achieved by the few, the supremely talented, the immortals. Names that come quickly to mind include Cyclone Taylor, Howie Morenz, Gordie Howe, Rocket Richard, Bobby Orr, and Wayne Gretzky.
Then, we have Mario Lemieux. Don’t believe us? Fine, but just read what current Pittsburgh Penguins star captain Sydney Crosby had to say about skating with Lemieux: “When he was flying by me, it’s as simple as that. He could probably still be playing if he hadn’t been hurt. The things he did, the way he used his size, his reach, the ability to skate. I remember it never looked like he was skating fast, but he was flying. I remember he took a path on the left side and I thought, OK, I have him … and whoops, he was gone and obviously he scored. That’s when I realized this guy was something else. There were best players, and then there was him and Wayne Gretzky. It was another level for them.”
The record books tell us that Mario Lemieux played in 915 National Hockey League games over 17 seasons, all with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored 1,723 NHL points, won the Stanley Cup as a player in both 1991 and 1992 and as an owner in 2009. More importantly, Lemieux took on Hodgkin’s disease and won. Early in his career Lemieux stepped away from the game to receive radiation treatments for the disease. He finished his 22 sessions on the morning of March 2, 1993, then stepped on a plane, caught up with his team and played a game that night.
The magnificent Mario Lemieux is currently a co-owner and president of the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.