Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Lemieux tells Penguins not to have ceremony
ESPN.com news services
We will see Steve Yzerman's jersey raised to the rafters in a special Red Wings ceremony in January. But what about the Penguins and Mario Lemieux?
Super Mario said no thanks.
According to local reports out of Pittsburgh, Lemieux requested that the Penguins not give him an elaborate ceremony for his second retirement from the NHL. Instead, the team will simply unveil a No. 66 banner hanging from the Mellon Arena roof on opening night.
"We're not going to do an official retirement [ceremony]," Tom McMillan, the team's vice president of communications, was quoted as saying to local reporters. "Mario's style has always been very understated, and he didn't want to do an elaborate ceremony. We did that back in 1997 [when Lemieux retired for the first time]. He's excited about this young team, and wants the focus to be on the young guys and the future."
Lemieux previously retired after the 1996-97 season following years of back problems and a 1993 cancer scare in which he was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, but he returned midway through the 2000-01 season.
Lemieux retired for the second and final time in January after battling through various injuries, most recently an irregular heartbeat.
Lemieux, a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee in 1997, led the Penguins -- the NHL's worst team before he was drafted in 1984 -- to successive Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. He won six NHL scoring titles, three MVP awards and two Conn Smythe awards as the Stanley Cup playoffs MVP.
Lemieux, who wore No. 66 throughout his career, scored 690 goals and had 1,033 assists in 915 career games.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.