Here is a generalized biography about NHL hockey legend Mario Lemieux. It spans over several pages so I have categorized it by his NHL playing seasons, in order to allow fans to quickly skip to another section if they wanted to. Simply click the season that you are interested in or just begin reading the biography and then use the links at the bottom to go to the next page.
- Early hockey career
- 1985-86 season
- 1986-87 season
- 1987-88 season
- 1988-89 season
- 1989-90 season
- Injury problems
- 1990-91 season
- 1991-92 season
- 1992-93 season
- Injury problems continue
- 1995-96 season
- 1996-97 season
- Retirement and Return
Mario Lemieux was a professional hockey player in the National Hockey League (NHL) and played from 1985 to 2004. He was widely known as one of the greatest players to ever play the game, acquiring nicknames such as Le Magnifique, The Magnificent One, and Super Mario and ironicaly his surname literally translates to ‘the best’. Due to his skill, size and stature (6 ft 4 in (1.931 m) and 230 lb (104 kg)), many hockey analysts believe that Lemieux would have been greatest player in almost any NHL era.
Early hockey career
Mario was born on October 5, 1965, in Montreal, Quebec, he first learned to skate in his living room, which his mother would pack with snow to keep the carpet fresh for the springtime. At an early age, Lemieux was considered a hockey prodigy and at the time Montreal Canadiens head coach, legend Scotty Bowman, suggested that they purchase the team he was on in order to guarantee first shot at signing the young star.
Lemieux was selected first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft after a much-heralded career in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Prior to the draft, several teams approached the Penguins in an attempt to acquire the young superstar. The Quebec Nordiques offered the talented Stastny brothers (Peter, Anton and Marion) in exchange for Lemieux, while the Minnesota North Stars offered all of their 1984 draft picks. As a testament to his potential greatness, he was given the number 66, an upside down version of Wayne Gretzky’s famous 99 Gretzky had been breaking records for the previous 5 seasons playing for the Edmonton Oilers. The Penguins had become the laughing stock of the NHL, finishing last overall in the previous 2 seasons; amid rumors of the team’s impending move, the future of the franchise was thrust solely upon the 18-year-old’s shoulders.
In his first NHL game, on his first shift and on first shot, he scored his first goal after he stole the puck from the future Hall of Fame Boston Bruins defenceman Ray Bourque. He then went on to tally 99 more points during his first season, becoming only the third NHL rookie at the time to reach the century mark, which garnered him the Calder Memorial Trophy as the national league’s ‘rookie of the year’. Earlier that season during the NHL’s All-Star Game, Lemieux became the first and only rookie to be named the All-Star Game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP).
During his sophomore season of 1985-1986, Lemieux recorded 141 points (48 goals, 93 assists)to finish second in league scoring behind Gretzky’s still-standing NHL record of 215 points. That same season, Lemieux won the Lester B. Pearson award as the game’s best player, voted by the National Hockey League’s players themselves, ending Gretzky’s record run of four consecutive years of winning the award. The Penguins’ overall record improved 27 points thanks to Lemieux’s scoring prowess.
Lemieux missed 17 games due to injury over the course of his next season but still managed to finish third in the NHL scoring race behind only Edmonton linemates Gretzky (183 points) and Jari Kurri (108 points).
In late summer of 1987, prior to the start of the NHL season, Lemieux teamed with Gretzky to help Canada win the Canada Cup, which is the predecessor of the World Cup of Hockey. Playing mostly on Gretzky’s line, Lemieux led all players in goal scoring and scored the game winner with little over a minute to play against the Soviet Union in the deciding game of the tournament. Many, including Lemieux, credit this very series as the turning point in his career and enabling him to finally reach his potential as an offensive force.
The following season, 1987-88, saw Lemieux score at a pace reached only by Wayne Gretzky and win his first Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer. He ended Gretzky’s record streak of seven straight scoring titles by finishing with 168 points. At that time he became only the 4th player to score 70 goals in a season, joining Phil Esposito, Gretzky and Jari Kurri. He also became the only other player besides Gretzky to average over two points a game for the season, finishing with 168 points in 77 games.
After the season, Lemieux won his first Hart Memorial Trophy as the league’s MVP, ending another of Gretzky’s record streaks at 8 in a row. Earlier in the season, Mario won his second All-Star Game MVP by scoring a still standing record of 6 points (3 goals, 3 assists) including the game-winner in overtime. However, despite of all of Lemieux’s personal achievements, Pittsburgh still failed to make the playoffs for the sixth straight year.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Pittsburgh Penguins Youth Team Prodigy | January 11, 2012