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Mario Lemieux

Diagnosed With Hodgkin's Disease

Although the Penguins failed to make the finals in 1993, Lemieux had another great season. His 160 scoring points earned him another Art Ross Trophy and he received the Hart Trophy as league MVP and Pearson Award as Player of the Year from the Players' Association as well. His personal life was also filled with good news. On June 26, 1993, Lemieux married Nathalie Asselin; the couple eventually had four children.

While going in for a routine medical checkup related to his recurring back problems in 1993, Lemieux pointed out a growth on his neck to his doctor. A biopsy showed that

Mario Lemieux

cancer had invaded the node and Lemieux received a diagnosis of nodular lymphocytic Hodgkin's Disease. He immediately began radiation treatment to fight the illness and was eventually declared cancer-free; however, the treatment left him too lethargic to return to his ice for the 1994-95 season. In his year off the ice, Lemieux created the Mario Lemieux Foundation to fund grants on cancer research and to establish a patient-care center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, which opened in 2001. After his son, Austin, was born three months prematurely in March 1996, Lemieux also raised money to inaugurate a neonatal research project at the Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. These efforts, as well as the time he took to talk with other cancer patients and survivors, made Lemieux into one of the most beloved athletes of his generation. A sign of this esteem was the Bill Masterton Trophy, awarded to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, which Lemieux received in 1993.

Related Biography: Hockey Coach Bob Johnson

The son of Swedish immigrants, Robert "Bob" Johnson was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1931 and grew into an all-around athlete. He played hockey at the University of North Dakota and University of Minnesota and was talented enough in baseball to be signed by the Chicago White Sox. Drafted during the Korean War, Johnson could not pursue his baseball career; after returning from the war, Johnson decided to go into coaching as a more reliable way to support his growing family, which eventually included five children.

Starting off as a high-school hockey coach in Minnesota, Johnson went to Colorado College in 1963. He returned to the Midwest three years later to direct the hockey program at the University of Wisconsin. He spent fifteen seasons at Wisconsin; leading the team to three NCAA championships, he earned the nickname "Badger Bob" after the team's mascot. In 1976 Johnson coached the U.S. men's hockey team at the Innsbruck Winter Olympic Games.

In 1982 Johnson joined the NHL as the coach of the Calgary Flames; the team made it to the 1986 Stanley Cup finals, where it lost to the Montreal Canadiens. He went to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and helped lead the team to its first-ever Stanley Cup victory at the end of his first season. In the midst of the celebration, however, Johnson was diagnosed with brain cancer. He died in November 1991 at the age of sixty, just as the Penguins were going on to the franchise's second consecutive Stanley Cup.

Remembered for his catchphrase, "It's a great day for hockey," Johnson was inducted into the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

Upon his return to the Penguins in 1995, Lemieux completed one of his best-ever seasons in the NHL with 161 points in seventy games, a total that included sixty-nine goals. Once again the winner of the Hart and Art Ross Trophies, Lemieux's comeback was an unqualified success. He added a sixth Art Ross Trophy in 1997. Jaromir Jagr, a Penguins player who had looked up to Lemieux as an early role model, was the Ross Trophy winner in 1995 and 1998. Despite these achievements, the Penguins did not return to the Stanley Cup finals after their 1992 win.

Additional topics

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