On this day, December 27, 2000, the owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins did the unprecedented. Mario Lemieux announced that he would end his three-plus year retirement and return to the National Hockey League as a player again.
Super Mario officially became the first owner/player in NHL history.
Here’s the rest of Lemieux’s story taken from one of the chapters in my Hockey Favorites sports comic book.
…The likeable hero of the top selling video game series of all time was introduced during the rookie season of one of the most admired National Hockey League players ever.
Beginning in 1985, Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers reigned over video game sales. That same year, Super Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins began dominating NHL games with his speed, strength and superb hockey skill.
Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr once remarked that Mario Lemieux, nicknamed Super Mario, was the most talented hockey player he had ever seen.
Lemieux’s excellence on the ice allowed him to lead the NHL in scoring six times. He also won the Hart Trophy three times as the league’s Most Valuable Player.
A 1997 inductee to the Hockey Hall of Fame, big #66 finished his hockey career with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. He was the only player ever to score five goals in different ways in a single game. These goals included an empty net, power play, penalty shot, shorthanded and full strength.
The 6’4” and 235 lb. French Canadian’s career highlights include an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002, a World Cup of Hockey Championship in 2004 and two Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992.
Lemieux also won a third title in 2009 as Chairman of the Board of the same NHL team he played for, the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also has the distinction of rescuing the same team from bankruptcy.
Mario truly was super. For several seasons, the former Penguin battled sidelining injuries and illness. He overcame back problems and even a bout with Hodgkins disease and returned to the ice after retirement. He proved that hockey’s Super Mario trumps any video game heroics.
Video game icon Super Mario may have shown off his heroics by successfully saving Princess Toadstool from her nemesis Bowser during their valiant Nintendo struggles.
But Super Mario Lemieux repeatedly showed bravery, courage and an amazing personal drive both on the ice and off.
That’s why he skates into the #2 spot in my sports comic book Hockey Favorites. Available for only 99 cents on Amazon.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!