Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Lemieux Injury Update

The Penguins have held a thread of hope all season long that their owner/player Mario Lemieux would return to the ice from his hip injury, but it has been confirmed that Lemieux is to have hip surgery next week and will be out for the remainder of the season. While his comeback, begininning in late December of the 2000-2001 season, was initially successful, he has had nagging back pains and now this hip injury. At many points during the comeback, he was pumping medication into his body just to skate. Return Statistics: 2000-01 35 Goals, 41 Assists, 76 Points, 43 Games 2001-02 6 Goals, 25 Assists, 31 Points, 24 Games 2002-03 28 Goals, 63 Assists, 91 Points, 67 Games 2003-04 1 Goal, 8 Assists, 9 Points, 10 Games So he has roughly played half of the games for the Pens. I wouldn't call the return a failure in the sense that it helped bring some excitement to the Pens after he saved them from bankruptcy. But Super Mario should be careful, because his injuries are serious enough that he could be jepordizing his health by continuing to play. I know he wants his son to see him play like he did back in the early 90's, but it's really sad to see him rehabing in, I'm afraid to say, vain. One thing the comeback has done is ruin his "last" games before the comeback, when he was able to play most every game in those "final" two seasons of 95-96, 96-97. In his "final" season, he led the league in scoring with 122 points (low in Mario terms compared to his 161 points of the previous, 95-96, season). Most memorably, he received emotional standing ovations everywhere he played in the final months of the 96-97 season, and lapped the ice after each game as the crowd cheered. It was truly a perfect way to close out a career, still playing well in Mario terms. He can still do a last-lap, but it won't be the same. Now he'll re-retire without that luster and almost like fading away, rather than leaving on his own terms as he did before, as people had the sense that he could lead the league as long as he wanted to play. But now, I really don't have that sense anymore, because he's 38 and it's getting physically harder for him to recover from injuries. He says he plans to return next season.


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