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Old 04-07-2008, 09:54 AM   #1
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Default Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

SI has been pulling articles out of their archives and running them on line in a kind of "best of" series.

I've attached the link to one on Mario in 1986, when he was 20. Its a great "blast from the past." He saved hockey in Pittsburgh several times over, and clearly has an heir apparent now.

its too long to reprint the whole thing, but I pulled a few choice points out. I recommend clicking the link to read the whole thing. Enjoy.

http://http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1064552/index.htm

Quote:
Mmmmmmm...egg rolls. Better yet, microwaved egg rolls. Mario Lemieux, the extraordinary young center for the Pittsburgh Penguins and our culinary guide for the evening, carefully fingers each icy morsel and then fires it into the oven.

"Something to drink?" he asks, opening the refrigerator. Inside, there is food with a Civil War expiration date. The dishes in the sink are dirty. On the bottom shelf of the fridge is a very dubious-looking chocolate cream pie. "My girlfriend made that," Lemieux says. "She went back home to Montreal three weeks ago."

Thank goodness beer keeps. Lemieux grabs an Iron City—what else would a self-respecting Pittsburgher drink—and plops down onto the couch in his furnished apartment. Soon the microwave whines. Lemieux, with the daring of youth, takes the first bite. "Ugggh," he says, wincing. "Bad, eh?" Lemieux does the only rational thing. Back to the refrigerator. Ketchup.

So now the ugly truth can be told. Lemieux is a normal 20-year-old, much like any other 20-year-old. Except for one difference: He's the 20-year-old who saved hockey in Pittsburgh, the man-child who brought the Penguins back from endangered species status, both competitively and financially. No player—not Wayne Gretzky, not Bobby Orr—has ever been asked to do so much both on the ice and off. No player has ever responded more brilliantly and gracefully.

"Without Lemieux, they pack up the team and move to another city," says Glen Sather, president, general manager and coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

Lemieux, drafted No. 1 overall in 1984, scored 43 goals and had 57 assists last season for 100 points, the third-highest total by a rookie (bettered only by Peter Stastny and Dale Hawerchuk). He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's Rookie of the Year. He was the Most Valuable Player in the All-Star Game. And, moonlighting, he led Team Canada to a stunning victory over the Soviet Union and a second-place finish at the world championships in Prague.

This season Lemieux is ahead of that pace, by a lot. In 59 games the 6'4", 200-pound Montrealer has 38 goals and 72 assists for 110 points and thus ranks second in the league to Gretzky, who has 164 points. As of Sunday, Lemieux had the longest consecutive point scoring streak in the NHL, at 18 games. And as he has staged his midseason scoring surge, the Penguins, with a 28-25-7 record, are locked in a battle with the N.Y. Islanders for third place in the tough Patrick Division. Their 63 points earned in 60 games are 10 more than they accumulated for all of 1984-85, and suddenly a team that could win only 16 games the season before Lemieux arrived is a good bet to make the playoffs.

Perhaps most important, the Penguins are no longer regarded by Pittsburgh as comic relief after the Steelers pack up and go home. Last season, attendance at the 16,033-seat Civic Arena increased 46%, from an average of 6,839 to 10,018. This season there has been another 18% gain, to 11,864. How much of that increase is due to Lemieux? "I'd say 90 percent," says Paul Steigerwald, the Penguins' director of marketing. "No, actually I'd have to say 100 percent. Without him, the team doesn't improve and the fans don't come out. He's meant everything to this organization."

Including its continued existence in Pittsburgh. It was only last summer that Edward J. DeBartolo, owner of the Penguins and the Major Indoor Soccer League's Pittsburgh Spirit, threatened to disband or move both of the financially draining franchises. The Penguins were said to be going north across the border to Hamilton, Ont. But on July 22, DeBartolo won a $425,000 reduction in Civic Arena rent and a city-county commitment of as much as $11.4 million to refurbish the 24-year-old building. In return, DeBartolo pledged only to keep the teams in Pittsburgh for at least this season. Now, with Lemieux leading a renaissance that has turned Steel City fans on, the moving vans have been called off. "We're staying right here," says general manager Eddie Johnston.
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And so is Lemieux. He had signed the richest NHL rookie contract ever—$350,000 for each of his first two seasons. This winter the Penguins gave him a five-year deal worth an estimated $2.75 million, which puts him second only to Gretzky on the league salary scale.

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Ever since his first glimpse of downtown Pittsburgh from the mouth of the Fort Pitt Tunnel, Lemieux has been hooked on the town. He wants to make it his permanent home, to the Penguins' delight. "This is the guy we're building the franchise around," says Johnston.

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Old 04-09-2008, 09:38 PM   #2
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

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Originally Posted by Counselor View Post
SI has been pulling articles out of their archives and running them on line in a kind of "best of" series.

I've attached the link to one on Mario in 1986, when he was 20. Its a great "blast from the past." He saved hockey in Pittsburgh several times over, and clearly has an heir apparent now.

its too long to reprint the whole thing, but I pulled a few choice points out. I recommend clicking the link to read the whole thing. Enjoy.

http://http://vault.sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1064552/index.htm
Thanks man, that was good, Mario is a g-d! I love the quote about after seeing the tunnel! Classic.
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Old 04-10-2008, 11:44 AM   #3
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

Living and growing up in Canada I was brought up on the game, and it remains my seond favourite sport next too NFL Football.
Lemieux has always been my favourite player, and I hope you realize how lucky Pittsburgh is to have had him, and now Crosby. Both are great hockey players and even more important great people as well and it appears "the Burgh" has grown on each of them !
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Old 04-10-2008, 02:08 PM   #4
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

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Lemieux has always been my favourite player, and I hope you realize how lucky Pittsburgh is to have had him, and now Crosby. Both are great hockey players and even more important great people as well and it appears "the Burgh" has grown on each of them !
So true! We are very very lucky. No other single athlete has done more for sports in Pittsburgh than Lemieux, and the only other person I can think of that would come close to his impact is Art Rooney, Sr.

As for Crosby, he's 20 going on 35 in his maturity. He is great for Pittsburgh and for the game of hockey.

Thanks to the two of them (and the likes of Malkin, Fleury & the other young stars), we will be enjoying many years of Penguin hockey to come---and many playoff series.
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Old 04-10-2008, 02:24 PM   #5
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

We have had great players come through the burg! Its such a great city!
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Old 04-10-2008, 06:36 PM   #6
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

What a fabulous read, Counselor - thank you!

Mario is a living legend in the Burgh and is the most loved and respected athlete to ever play for any sports franchise here. I remember his rookie season - I was in total awe at what this young man brought to the team and his insatiable hunger to play the game and be the very best, which imho - he was. In Sid, I see shades of another Mario on the horizon and this lady is, has been and always will be a proud Pittsburgh Penguins fan!

Wayne who?
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Old 04-12-2008, 01:47 PM   #7
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Default Re: Mario Lemieux - 22 years ago.

Very nice article. Thanks for posting.
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