It’s hard to dispute the Greatest First Round Draft Pick in Penguins History. No, it’s not Sidney Crosby. Though, he is second for sure. No, the first has to go to “Super Mario” himself, Mario Lemieux.
This is a guy that not only saved the franchise once, just by playing for them, but then again when he took over as owner. He is not only a legend in Canada, but also one of the most loved Pittsburgher’s of all time. He was drafted in 1984 by the Penguins and has stayed one his entire career. As a local fan, I have grown to admire what he stands for and what he has accomplished. Some outside the city may not appreciate him as we have locally, but there has been no one in Hockey quite like “Le Magnifique”.
In 17 seasons as a Penguin, he played in only 915 regular season games out of a possible 1428. He missed hundreds of games and retired a couple of times due to injuries and cancer. His career stats are amazing, consider that he could have played in about 500 more games over his career, then the numbers and possibilities become staggering.
He finished his career with 690 goals and 1033 assists. Add on the fact that he scored an additional 172 points in only 107 playoff games. He was the captain on both Penguins teams that won the Stanley Cup. He won an Olympic Gold with Canada in 2002 and a Championship at the 04′ world Cup of Hockey. He won 3 Hart Trophies, 6 Art Ross Trophies, and 2 Conn Smythe Trophies and finished his career 7th all time in scoring. A mouth full to say the least.
When Lemieux bought the team in 1999, and pulled them out of Bankruptcy and it was like Pittsburgher’s were given a gift that just kept on giving. At that moment, the fans felt like there was nothing he could not do. Although I am leaving out so much that could have been talked about, the thing that really makes this whole thing most amazing to me is the fact that Mario Did all of this, not to mention all of the Mario Lemieux Foundation stuff for Cancer and Autism, without a HIGH SCHOOL diploma. Not a College degree, but he did not even finish High School.
Waynes Gretzky will always be regarded as the Greatest Player in Hockey, but In Pittsburgh, it is clear who was the Greatest Player of all Time. Super Mario!