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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In making an introductory speech at the unveiling ceremony, longtime Penguins broadcaster Mike Lange recalled a famous play from Mr. Lemieux's junior days with Laval when he scored against Verdun goaltender Troy Crosby. The story made Troy's son, Sidney, grin widely as he sat in the audience.

Mr. Crosby has had most of the past 14 months of his career wrecked because of a concussion and neck injury. He was cleared for contact Tuesday and could return to the lineup as soon as Sunday.

Mr. Lemieux, who has served as a full-time or part-time landlord to Mr. Crosby for more than six years, understands the frustration.

"It's never fun to be on the sideline, especially with Sid's injury," Mr. Lemieux said. "It's a little different than back surgery or hip surgery or a knee or anything else. You have to be patient, but I think he's getting better and he's getting close to getting back on the ice [in a game]. It's going to be exciting when he gets back."

After all that Mr. Lemieux went through -- including the premature birth of son Austin, whom he now coaches -- he and his wife, Nathalie, have put a lot of effort into the Mario Lemieux Foundation.

"I have gone through cancer myself, in 1993," said Mr. Lemieux, who had Hodgkin's lymphoma. "I felt it was important to have a foundation to try to help others and give them hope. That's what we're doing now. We're trying to raise as much money as we can for cancer research and neonatal research and Nathalie [being involved in] Austin's Playrooms. We're trying to do as much as we can for the community.

"To me, that's the least I can do. I've been very fortunate throughout my career, and the least I can do is try to give back."

For one afternoon, it was Mr. Lemieux's turn to receive.

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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