Mario Lemieux is hanging up his skates:
Penguins star and owner Mario Lemieux, one of hockey’s greatest players, announced his retirement for the second time at a news conference held Tuesday afternoon.
Lemieux, a Hall of Famer who won Stanley Cups and scoring titles and then battled through cancer and heart problems in a comeback, announced his decision at a news conference.
“If I could still play this game I would be on the ice,” Lemieux said. “This is it, and it hurts.”
The 40-year-old Lemieux learned in early December he has atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can cause his pulse to flutter wildly and must be controlled by medication.
This will undoubtedly spark a ‘who was the best’ contest, pitting Gretzky fans v. Lemieux fans, and I think it is kinda silly. First, they played a different style, Gretzky was always surrounded with more talent, and Lemieux was plagued with injuries while Gretzky was relatively healthy his entire career. It is hard to compare the tow, given the differences.
I will simply say this- no one who every saw Lemieux gracefully move down the ice with a puck will ever forget what they saw, and they will never see a big man that agile again. My mother, seeing Lemieux for the first time a few years ago at a Pens game, remarked to my brother- “It is amazing how smooth and easy he makes it look.”
My brother, without flinching, replied- “There is a reason people are always debating whether he is the greatest hockey player ever.”
Goodbye, Super Mario, and thanks.