“Le Magnifique,” a spectacular statue honoring the career and achievements of Mario Lemieux, was unveiled today in a public ceremony at CONSOL Energy Center.
The larger-than-life bronze statue, featuring the great Lemieux bursting through two defensemen on his way to the goal, is located in the plaza outside the Trib Total Media Gate, near the intersection of Centre Avenue and Washington Place.
It was created by nationally-acclaimed bronze sculptor Bruce Wolfe of Berkeley, CA (www.brucewolfe.com). James Frederick of James Gallery in Pittsburgh’s West End Village was the art consultant on the project.
“Mario Lemieux is a unique figure in the history of Pittsburgh – a Hall of Fame athlete who went on to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins and become the first player-owner of the modern era, and also a community-minded citizen who continues to raise millions of dollars for cancer research and neo-natal research,” said David Morehouse, CEO and President of the Penguins. “This statue will be an everlasting tribute to his legacy.”
The image was adapted from photos and video of a December 20, 1988 game against the New York Islanders at the Civic Arena, when Lemieux broke through defensemen Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton en route to scoring at 14:09 of the third period. Bob Errey and Dan Quinn assisted on the goal in a 5-3 Penguins win. Photographer Paul Bereswill took a photo of the play that appeared in Sports Illustrated, and that photo is now a part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s collection.
The Penguins chose that image because it was a metaphor for everything Lemieux accomplished in his career and his life – breaking through defenders, overcoming obstacles, turning back challenges.
“We considered a number of options, including one of Mario hoisting the Stanley Cup as a player, and one of him carrying the puck in full flight, but we decided this was the ultimate representation of what he did and who he was,”Morehouse said. “On the ice, Mario powered his way past defensemen to score incredible goals. Off the ice, he overcame and broke through so many challenges.
“It also is one of the few statues we’ve seen that includes figures other than the person being honored. We thought it was very appropriate to have action in the image – to include the defensemen who were trying to stop him. It truly is one of a kind. Bruce Wolfe did an amazing job of capturing the essence of Mario Lemieux.”
The statue weighs 4,700 pounds. It is 10 ¼ feet high x 13 feet long x 10 feet wide.
“Le Magnifique” was funded privately by the Penguins’ ownership group, local labor organizations and members of the Pittsburgh business community.