Mario Lemieux was one of the greatest players in NHL history and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992 with Tom Barrasso in goal. Lemieux and Barrasso forged a close friendship after the latter was traded from the Buffalo Sabres to the Penguins on Nov. 12, 1998, with their families spending Christmas together and forming a bond as they spent eight seasons as teammates. Lemieux, who scored 1,723 points (690 goals, 1,033 assists) in 915 games over 17 seasons and won the Hart Trophy three times as NHL MVP, here shares his thoughts on Barrasso, who will join him in the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 13, in a special testimonial for

How valuable was Tom Barrasso to the Pittsburgh Penguins? We wouldn't have won two Stanley Cups without him.

Tommy was that good. His arrival in Pittsburgh in 1988 gave us the belief that we could be a contender, and the two Cups followed a few years later -- in 1991 and 1992.

He was one of the best goaltenders of his generation -- big, quick, athletic and technically sound. He could win a game 1-0, or he could win a game 6-5 (as he did in the clinching game of the 1992 Cup Final in Chicago). It wasn't always easy playing net behind the offense-minded Penguins of the early 1990s -- we loved to skate and score and didn't always backcheck -- but Tommy had the perfect mentality to deal with all situations and help us to victory.

Barrasso on bonds with teammates in his career

His rookie season in Buffalo in 1983-84 likely never will be repeated. He came directly out of Massachusetts high school hockey and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's best goaltender at the age of 18. It was a no-brainer to also name him rookie of the year. The Penguins then managed to acquire him in a trade six seasons later -- thankfully -- and that helped pave the way to our championship era.

It seemed perfect that Tommy posted a shutout the night we won the first Cup in franchise history at Minnesota in 1991.

There were a lot of future Hall of Famers on the early ‘90s Penguins -- Paul Coffey, Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Mark Recchi, Bryan Trottier, myself -- but Tommy was the glue in net who gave us the chance to win two Cups together. He went on to have an amazing 19-year career -- playing for Ottawa, Carolina, Toronto and St. Louis in addition to the Penguins and Sabres -- but everyone on those great Pittsburgh teams knows how much he meant to us. He's one of the big reasons we all have rings. And he's a very deserving inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame.