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Lemieux's son honing game with Penguins

Forward, whose father is Pittsburgh icon, taking third spin through development camp

by Wes Crosby / NHL.com Correspondent

CRANBERRY, Pa. -- Austin Lemieux has made a summer tradition of skating on a rink bearing his last name.

The 22-year-old son of Mario Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins owner and all-time leading scorer with 1,723 points (690 goals, 1,033 assists) in 17 NHL seasons, is taking part in his third prospect development camp at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. At this point, Lemieux wearing No. 16, with his dad's No. 66 hanging on the far wall, is customary.

That doesn't mean the 6-foot-3, 170-pound forward takes the experience for granted.

"I see some familiar faces every year that are getting better every year," Austin Lemieux said. "I'm just trying to stick with them. ... I just try to come into camp every year and do my best. We'll see from there."

 

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Being the son of an NHL legend, and occasionally traveling with his dad, has had its perks and its challenges, the younger Lemieux said.

"I just try to do my own thing," he said. "You have the ups and downs of being his son. It's great. I just try to be myself every day. ... It's a great opportunity for me to be around NHL players and see how they are. Go to different rinks, and I had a lot of opportunities to go to playoff games and see how that is. I think it's great for my development to see how the pros interact."

Of course, there are constant comparisons to Mario Lemieux. But with that has come the chance to lean on his father, which has helped develop the younger Lemieux's game.

"He gives some pointers and stuff like that," Lemieux said. "He's great to ask any questions. ... I've learned a lot from him. He's probably the best coach anyone could have."

The same could be said for Penguins center and captain Sidney Crosby, who has served as a big brother-type figure for Austin Lemieux. Crosby lived with the Lemieux family for several years after being drafted in 2005.

Their bond continued even after Crosby moved.

"He's more of a mentor and a friend to me," the younger Lemieux said. "I look up to him. Just like my dad, if I have any questions, he's not shy to help out. He's a great person to have."

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The guidance Austin Lemieux receives from his dad and Crosby helped him land an invitation to development camp in 2016, when he was still searching for an NCAA scholarship. After taking part in that camp, he earned one with Arizona State, where he redshirted in 2017-18.

After being away from game action last year, the younger Lemieux is hoping to make an impact when Arizona State faces Alaska Fairbanks on Oct. 6, and keeping his priorities in line at the same time.

"Super exciting. I think it's going to be a great year," he said. "I'm really looking forward to it. ... Great opportunity for me. Play [Division I.] Hopefully play at a high level early on at this stage of my career. I'm looking to be a top-line player there.

"I just try to focus on academics first and hockey second. I seem to be doing pretty good at that right now. So I just keep following it."

For now, though, Austin Lemieux's focus is growing during another development camp. Three years in, he has become somewhat of a veteran presence, trying to help other prospects get the most out of the experience.

"I try to," he said. "A few guys asked me how many camps I've been to and I told them this is my third. So they kind of ask me a few questions, but I just say, 'Be yourself. Enjoy it.' "

 

Lead photo courtesy of Jamie Louden/Pittsburgh Penguins 

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