Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Lemieux is first in almost every significant statistical category for the Penguins.
It's not a stretch to say that Mario Lemieux is the greatest draft picks in the history of the NHL. No other player has done as much for a franchise, on and off the ice, as Lemieux has done for the Penguins.
That makes it hard to believe that the two started on shaky ground.
The Penguins had the first pick in the 1984 draft. They knew they wanted Lemieux (he put up legendary numbers in a Canadian junior league), so they started contract negotiations prior to draft day. Lemieux and his agent were unhappy with the negotiations, so when Lemieux's name was called on draft day he refused to put on a Penguins jersey.
Thankfully, the two sides finally came to an agreement. The rest is history, as they say.
In his first season with the Penguins he tallied 100 points (43 goals, 57 assists) on his way to the Calder Memorial Trophy, the NHL's Rookie of the Year award. In his second season, he put up 141 points and stole the Ted Lindsay (NHL's MVP, as voted upon by the players) award from Wayne Gretzky, who had won it the previous four years.
The very next season, 1987-88, Lemieux denied Gretzky his eighth straight Art Ross award (top point scorer). Lemieux won the award the next season, Gretzky followed up with two in a row, then Lemieux answered with two of his own.
"He could snap a puck through a refrigerator door," Gretzky said of Lemieux.
Lemieux was sidelined with a back injury for the majority of the 90-91 season, but when he returned he was as dominant as ever. He scored 45 points over the last 26 games of the regular season, then went on a legendary playoff run (44 points in just 23 games) while leading the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup. Lemieux was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as MVP of the playoffs.
He would lead the Penguins to another Cup the following year, winning the Art Ross and Conn Smythe trophies along the way.
Lemieux retired in 1997, purchased the franchise in 1999 and saved the team from financial ruin by settling all of it's debts. He returned to the ice in 2000, becoming the first owner/player in NHL history. He had several productive seasons and eventually retired for good in January of 2006.
Here's a great tribute video to Lemieux.
Stats with Pittsburgh (all time LEAGUE rank in parenthesis)
915 games, 690 goals (9), 1033 assists (10), 1723 points (7)
Art Ross Trophy x6
Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) x3
Conn Smythe Trophy x2
Masterson Memorial Trophy (sportsmanship) x1