Mario Lemieux, who
led the Pittsburgh Penguins of the National Hockey League (NHL) to the
Stanley Cup championship title in 1991 and 1992. Born in Montréal, Québec,
Lemieux dropped out of school at the age of 16, a year after joining
Montréal’s Laval Voisin junior hockey team. In 1984 the Pittsburgh
Penguins, then in last place, made Lemieux the first selection in the NHL
In the 1984-85 season Lemieux won the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL rookie
of the year. He also was named most valuable player (MVP) that year in the
NHL All-Star Game. He played an important part in the Penguins’ gradual
improvement in league standings over the next few years, and his
performances drew increased attendance at games.
In the 1987-88 season Lemieux won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s high
scorer, totaling 168 points (70 goals and 98 assists). Canadian hockey
player Wayne Gretzky had led the league in scoring the previous seven
seasons. Lemieux also won the Hart Trophy as the MVP of the NHL for the
season. The next season he repeated as NHL scoring champion.
In 1991 and again in 1992, the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, and Lemieux
was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy both years as the MVP in the playoffs.
In the 1991-92 season he also led the league in scoring, with 44 goals and
87 assists. In February 1993 Lemieux left the team to undergo treatment
for Hodgkin’s disease, a form of cancer. He rejoined the Penguins in March
and, despite missing 24 of the season’s 84 games, was the NHL’s leading
scorer for the season, with 69 goals and 91 assists. He was also named MVP
for the season.
Lemieux’s illness caused him to miss the entire 1994-95 season, but he
returned to the Penguins for the 1995-96 season and won his fifth scoring
title, compiling 69 goals and 92 assists. After leading the Penguins to
the playoffs in 1996-97, Lemieux retired as one of the top ten career
scorers in NHL history. In 1999 a group headed by Lemieux purchased the
Penguins franchise. In late 2000, after more than three years off, Lemieux
came out of retirement to play for the Penguins.