The Pittsburgh Penguins and CONSOL Energy Center will be hosting the 2012 NHL Draft on June 22nd and 23rd. In the days leading up to the draft, PittsburghPenguins.com will be highlighting some past draft selections throughout Penguins' history.
|Mario Lemieux/Pittsburgh Penguins |
1984 - 1st round - 1st overall
Stripping the puck away from Boston Bruins superstar defenseman Ray Bourque and streaking down the open ice on his first NHL shift, Mario Lemieux had only one more person to beat. With one deke to the left and a quick flick towards the net, the No. 1-overall pick of the 1984 NHL Draft beat Bruins goalie Pete Peeters to score his first goal on his first shot of his career, showing Penguins fans what they would expect to witness for years to come. Lemieux finished his rookie campaign in 1984 winning the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year) after scoring 43 goals and handing out 57 assists to compile 100 points.
On Dec. 31, 1988 against the New Jersey Devils, Lemieux put together one of the greatest individual performances in NHL history. Lemieux scored five goals five different ways: shorthanded; even-strength; on a power play; a penalty shot; and an empty-net goal. He’s the only player to ever accomplish this milestone.
Lemieux would go on to lead the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992 while also winning the Conn Smythe Trophy both years (playoff MVP). After the 1992 season, on Jan. 12, 1993, Lemieux announced that he had been diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. The disease forced him to miss two months of the 1993 season. After he returned, the Pens went on to win 17 consecutive games, an NHL record, and finished first overall in the NHL standings for the first time in franchise history.
A few months after he retired from the game, Lemieux became the ninth player in NHL history to have the three-year mandatory waiting period waived and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Nov. 17, 1997. In 1999, when the Pens filed for bankruptcy, Lemieux stepped in with an ownership group and bought the team to keep it in Pittsburgh. The Penguins great decided that in 2000 it was time to once again lace up his skates and resume his playing career, making the comeback official on Dec. 27, 2000 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite playing only 43 games that season, Lemieux finished the year with 76 points, which was the highest points per game by any NHL player that season (1.77). He went on to play five more seasons for Pittsburgh but permanently retired on Jan. 24, 2006 at the age of 40.
Lemieux finished his career as an eight-time All-Star (including three All-Star MVPs), a six-time recipient of the Art Ross Trophy (NHL scoring champion), a three-time winner of the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) and a three time Stanley Cup champion (once as an owner in 2009). Lemieux currently owns the Penguins franchise records for most career games (915), goals (690), assists (1,033) and points (1,723). The center also owns the Penguins single-season records for goals scored (85), assists (114), points (199), goals in one game (5, shared NHL record), shorthanded goals (13, NHL record) and is the only player in NHL history to record eight points in three separate games. Lemieux’s No. 66, along with Michel Briere’s No. 21, are the only two Penguins players to have their number retired.