Friday, January 20, 2006

Has Mario Played His Last Game?

There's an article in the New York Times today that hinted that Mario Lemieux may have played his last game in the NHL:
Lemieux, the 40-year-old Hall of Famer who also serves as the team's captain, missed his 15th consecutive game Thursday night because of an irregular heartbeat. He also missed four games in early December with the condition, which is known as atrial fibrillation.

In his owner's box before Thursday night's game here against the Rangers, Lemieux was asked if he wanted to play again this season. "I'm not sure," he said. "I'm just taking it day by day now, hopefully start to feel better, and we'll see."

Lemieux, who came out of retirement in December 2000, was also asked if there was a chance he had played his last game. "Well, there's always a chance," he said.
I've enjoyed Mario's magic over the years, but unpopular as it sounds, part of me hopes he decides to hang them up. Aside from his health issues, he also seems to have lost a step or two.

The potential of a Crosby-Lemieux tandem had hockey fans salivating in the summer, however, that magic between the two never materialized. While Crosby came as advertised and is leading the team in scoring, Mario had scored a mere 7-15-22 in 26 games. In fact, including one five-point game early in the season, he had at least a point in only 12 of his 26 games. He had also accumulated a horrendous -16 rating.

Mario, I'm sure, provides more than a few intangibles to a young Penguins team, but I don't know that this is enough. Because of how great a player he is and because of his numerous accomplishments in the past, he will ultimately be judged by his numbers. After 26 games this season, his numbers aren't great.

I hate seeing great players hang on for too long past their prime, and in Mario's case, this may very well be the case. He deserves to leave under better circumstances than that.

Comments/Questions: Feel free to post in the comments section or email me at gocanucksgo10 (at) hotmail (dot) com.

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posted by J.J. Guerrero, 10:45 PM


At January 21, 2006 7:14 AM, Anonymous Paul said...

I personally think Mario is questioning his health and wondering if he should come back. A few weeks ago, many papers had stories Mario hits the ice, returns to practice, should be back in a week or so, now we read nothing of any progress, etc. A tell-tale sign the media may know more to this, by not mentioning much about Mario in the last week or so may be a sign he is not coming back.

At January 21, 2006 10:13 AM, Blogger BCSportsFanatic said...

No point to comeback now as the Pens are basically eliminated from playoff contention.

This season has been a complete disaster. Mario just wants out of hockey for a while I think. Hence stepping down as CEO and talking about selling the team. Mind as well sell now when he has the chance.

Barring a miracle, I think the Pens have played their final season in Pittsburgh. I really like Winnepeg, Portland, and I hate to say it but Toronto as possible new venues.

At January 21, 2006 1:20 PM, Blogger hoopsjunky said...

There are the health issues, the arena issues, the financial issues and I don't think anyone would question if he just decides to hang 'em up. He's done everything - plus more - he can for the franchise.

This should have been a dream season for the Pens, with them winning the Crosby sweepstakes, then attracting some high-profile free agents, plus having some good, young players with a lot of upside. It obviously hasn't happened and the Pens will most likely be in the running for Kessel/E. Johnson/Toews.

To be honest, as much as I would love to see another team in Canada, I don't see the Pens moving. They have a private investor lined up for a new arena. They just need approval for the appropriate license to finance it.

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