Pittsburgh Penguins History: Mario Lemieux Hits Century Mark

Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport
Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux, Mandatory Credit: Rick Stewart /Allsport /

On this day in Pittsburgh Penguins history, Apr. 7, 1985,  Mario Lemieux became just the third rookie in NHL history to score 100 points.

When Mario Lemieux joined the Pittsburgh Penguins, few could have imagined that his career would have impacted the city of Pittsburgh and the game of hockey the way it did.

Lemieux’s first season was filled with many achievements including earning the Calder Trophy as the league’s best rookie and becoming the first rookie in league history to be named All-Star Game MVP.

While we celebrate this milestone, here’s a look back at a few things you may not have known about Lemieux’s rookie season.

Signing Bonus

After the ink dried on Lemieux’s 700 thousand dollar contract, the first item he purchased was a brand new set of wheels. Lemieux gave the keys to his father and purchased a beater pick-up truck to get around the city.

Not a Sellout

After Lemieux signed with Pittsburgh, the initial reaction of the fans appeared to be business as usual.

In the days and months leading up to Lemieux’s debut, season ticket sales fell flat, and in comparison to where they were at the beginning of the 1983-83 season they were down to 2,045 from 2, 170, and as the Penguins first game drew closer there were close to 4,ooo tickets available to view the future Hall-of-Famer in his natural habitat.

Two things were working against Pittsburgh in the home opener, it was on a Wed. evening and it was against the Canucks.

No Shame, Home Game

Lemieux’s first home game occurred on Oct. 17, 1984, vs. Vancouver Canucks, in a 4-3 Penguins win. Lemieux finished the game with an assist and three shots on goal. The game also featured Lemieux’s first professional fight as he jousted with instigator Gary Lupul.

Lemieux earned 5 for fighting and an additional two for roughing, but it Canucks goaltender took the brunt of the punishment when he entered the foray to assist Lupul. The support for his teammate resulted in a 10-minute game misconduct and an additional two for leaving the crease.

Help Wanted?

Lemieux has never shied away from expressing his displeasure in the league’s ability/inability to protect its star players. After a 5-4 loss vs. Minnesota in late Feb. 1985, Lemieux called out both team management and his teammates, by suggesting he wasn’t receiving adequate protection on the ice.

For example in late Dec. 1984, Lemieux was high-sticked by Mel Bridgman of the New Jersey Devils and roughed up in a game vs. Philadelphia by Rich Sutter and Dave Brown.

Lemieux floated the plan to reporters that Pittsburgh should call upon either Marty McSorley or Wolf Bennett from the Penguins farm team in Baltimore to provide a deterrent for opposing players looking to liberties with the league’s freshest star.

Five Point, High Point

Lemieux’s first career 5-point game occurred on Feb. 20, 1985, in a 6-3, Penguins win over Calgary. Lemieux scored two goals and three assists in his 49th game of the season.

During the course of the 1984-85 season, Lemieux registered 29 multi-point games and was held off the scoresheet in 14 of his 73 games.