A super statue for a super Mario

Mario Lemieux stands tall and in bronze outside Consol Energy Center
March 8, 2012 9:30 am
  • Brian Smith of Canonsburg takes a photo of his hockey idol's statue Wednesday before the Penguins game with Toronto.
    Brian Smith of Canonsburg takes a photo of his hockey idol's statue Wednesday before the Penguins game with Toronto.
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Count Mario Lemieux among those who wonder what kind of statistics he might have compiled if his Penguins career hadn't been pocked by back, hip and knee injuries and cancer.

"I missed tons of games and tons of seasons over the years. It would have been nice to see how many points I could have gotten playing 1,500 games," Mr. Lemieux said Wednesday.

Still, the Hall of Fame center and team co-owner had a highly productive career and dazzled fans with his skill, grace and power. What he has done on and off the ice over the years earned him an honor many probably believe was overdue:

The club on Wednesday unveiled a statue of Mr. Lemieux, dubbed "Le Magnifique," that rises more than 10 feet in front of Consol Energy Center.

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Much was symbolic about the ceremony, which attracted a throng of fans, Mr. Lemieux's family, current Penguins players and club officials, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

It was held on a gorgeous midday with temperatures at least approaching -- if not reaching -- 66, the retired jersey number of Mr. Lemieux.

The site is along Centre Avenue, directly across the street from the hulking bones of Civic Arena, home ice for Mr. Lemieux for his entire career. The old arena is being razed.

The bronze statue, sculpted by Bruce Wolfe, represents Mr. Lemieux's artistry as a player and his ability to break through obstacles.

It is adapted from a Sports Illustrated photograph of a scoring play, taken by Paul Bereswill and among the Hockey Hall of Fame's collection. Mr. Lemieux, the puck on his blade, is splitting New York Islanders defensemen Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton in a Dec. 20, 1988 game.

The depiction was selected over many other potential poses -- and that process came after team officials finally persuaded Mr. Lemieux to OK the statue.

As Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse pointed out during the unveiling, perhaps no one is more closely associated with one sports franchise than Mr. Lemieux, 46, is with the Penguins.

For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com and Twitter @pgshelly.
First Published 2012-03-07 23:21:57

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