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Mario Lemieux

Drafted By Pittsburgh Penguins

The third of Jean-Guy and Pierette Lemieux's three sons, Mario Lemieux was born on October 5, 1965 in the working-class Ville Emard neighborhood of Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He first began to skate and play hockey on a rink at the family's local church and his father, a construction worker, sometimes packed snow in the family's front hallway so that his sons, Richard, Alain, and Mario, could get in more practice time. Lemieux was already a standout player by the time he reached his teens and joined the Laval Voisins in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at age fifteen. In order to concentrate completely on his budding career as a hockey player, Lemieux left school after the tenth grade. Lemieux's three years with the Voisins culminated in a league record of 282 scoring points in the 1983-84 season. Recognized as one of the strongest up-and-coming players in North America, Lemieux was the first pick in the first round of the 1984 draft. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins.

One of the teams added in the expansion of the NHL beyond its original six teams in 1967, the Penguins had never made it to the Stanley Cup finals. The squad also suffered from unfavorable comparisons with its cross-state rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, who won back-to-back victories in 1974 and 1975 and remained viable contenders for the Cup throughout the 1980s. Lemieux was an unlikely savior for the Penguins. Although the teenage center was an impressive figure on the ice, at six feet, four inches tall and about 220 pounds, he was shy and awkward off the ice. A native French speaker, Lemieux gradually learned English, which helped him adapt to life in Pittsburgh. His excellent performance also helped him become a favorite with Penguins fans; in his debut appearance with the team, Lemieux scored a goal on his very first attempt. By the end of the season, he had racked up 100 scoring points and earned the Calder Memorial Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year.

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Famous Sports StarsHockeyMario Lemieux Biography - Drafted By Pittsburgh Penguins, Two Consecutive Stanley Cup Wins, Chronology, Awards And Accomplishments, Diagnosed With Hodgkin's Disease