Fifty-five years ago marked the most important moment in Penguins history, two years before the Penguins were even in the NHL. October 5, 1965 was the day that Mario Lemieux was brought onto this planet.
Almost nineteen years to the date later, October 11, 1984 to be exact, Mario would famously score on his first shot on his first shift in his first game against Boston Bruins netminder Pete Peeters. He didn’t stop there, either. In 915 regular season games, Lemieux put in 690 goals and 1,033 assists past opposing goalies. He added 76 goals and 96 assists in 107 career playoff games as well, all franchise marks with the Penguins that will likely never get surpassed.
If his health wouldn’t have failed him, Lemieux would have very likely given Wayne Gretzky a run for his money in career points. Alas, Lemieux will still go down as one of the greatest and most dominant professional athletes of all time.
Lemieux’s career on the ice took the backseat to his front office career as the team converted his deferred salary into stock in the team, resulting in Lemieux becoming controlling interest in the Pittsburgh Penguins in September, 1999; The rest, as they say, is history, as Lemieux is still owner in the team and has his name inscribed as a player or owner on all five of the Penguins’ Cup winning teams.
We as Penguins fans have been blessed to have Mario Lemieux as a player and owner to this day. He’s paid back every dollar the Penguins owed after taking control of the team in 1999 and Lemieux cemented the Penguins to Pittsburgh for decades with the construction of PPG Paints Arena. He’s one of the classiest athletes to ever play professional sports and Pittsburgh is lucky to have him.
Here’s to you, Mario. Happy Birthday, Le Magnifique.