There comes a time in one's career, or life for that matter, when you have to access your future. Once again, Mario Lemieux finds himself in that situation. Since 1984, when Lemieux first broke in to the NHL, Number 66 has had a myriad of injuries and Hodgkin's disease to deal with. Each time he has thrilled us upon his return, his magic still within, his brilliance still a spectacle to behold.
But here we are again, with Lemieux being admitted to a hospital to undergo another battery of tests, this time for an irregular heartbeat. With the high profile and downright terrifying Jiri Fischer incident still fresh in the mind of many, it comes as no shock that any player will have anything heart related checked out. But for Lemieux the question is when will it be enough?
So when is enough? Let's see...Lemieux was drafted #1 overall in 1984, scored on his first shift and won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. Lemieux won back-to-back Stanley Cup's in 91-92 and 92-93, named MVP of both playoff triumphs. A 3-time league MVP, a handful of Art Ross Scoring Titles, and a fixture for Canada on the International Hockey Scene, capped with a Gold Medal in the Olympics at Salt Lake just four years ago. Lemieux is currently #7 in career scoring is just 10 goals shy of 700 and has surpassed 1700 total points. When he retired in '97, the NHL Hall of Fame waved the 3-year grace period and immediately inducted Super Mario.
Not enough for you? How about owning a NHL franchise? Lemieux has a stake in the Penguins, thus becoming the first former player to own a professional sports team in the modern era. Yes, Pittsburgh is fighting for their lives to get a new rink. But, with the next great player, Sydney Crosby, now in the fold attendance has skyrocketed and hopes are high for a slot machine licence that would pump new life into a new rink for Lemieux's team.
Still not enough? Fine, I have the clincher. Lemieux and his beautiful and endearing wife Nathalie are the parents of four children.
Enough said. Children to me or any sane parent are the clincher. He doesn't need the money, the accolades or anything else. He needs to be DAD.
Note to Mario:
If your check-up reveals anything...and I mean anything, it's time to pack up the skates and sticks and pass the torch. You will still be an owner, will have a day-to-day interest in the Penguins and the NHL and still be a father.
By the way, thanks for the great memories...