Lay Off Mario

Well I’ve seen enough Mario Lemieux bashing I’ll tell you that, so I think it’s time now that someone actually stuck up for this great player and great man. You go into forums and some fool’s running his mouth over how Mario’s the most overrated player in the game, and then another’s smacking about how he is the worst captain in the NHL today (Keith Primeau anyone?). Time to set the record straight Mario Lemieux is now, and always will be one of the greatest, greatest players of this game.I can’t point to what it could be that makes people criticize him so much?

THE DECREASE IN HIS SCORING RATE:

Well I know Markus Naslund would be very disappointed with only 208 points in his last 134 games. Fact of the matter is Mario has more points per game than Gretzky, Bossy and every other great player of all time, and sure he’s slightly slowed down (he’s 37 people) but he’s still going at over 1.5 points per game on probably the worst team in the league. Jerome Iginla couldn’t even get near that figure on Calgary when he won the Art Ross and Rocket trophy, but he shouldn’t quit too should he?

THE INJURIES:

He doesn’t play every game every year? Well la-di fricken da. Either does John LeClair, in fact last I saw, Tony Amonte even missed games last season and so did Yzerman, Bure and many more. Rob Svehla another iron man of the league (who coincidentally people is much younger than Mario) doesn’t even know if he wants to come back next year, yet Mario, who does, and who also performs at a higher level than Svehla still, does want to and gets criticized. Idiots.

THE AGE:

Francis is older, Messier is older, Larionov is older even Stevie Y is and yet last time I checked, half of you don’t mind whether these guys retire or not. Apparently Francis needs to stay on and help the young guys at Carolina (what’s Mario doing at Pittsburgh people), and Stevie Y should come back for another year despite his injuries in the last year or so as well. Let’s make up our mind with a little consistency hey? And further to the point, how many of these guys got near a point per game last season, let alone 90 odd in 60 odd games, only one, Mario baby.

THE HIATUS:

Yeah he needed three years away from the game (an apparent retirement) because of serious injuries. Then he has the character and ability to make a successful comeback, become the best player in the league again (hey the stats speak for themselves, you can ya-da-ya-da me all you like about Forsberg, put Mario on a line with Tanguay and Hejduk and Milan’ll get 100 goals) and yet we still criticize him. Seems to me we aren’t respecting him enough, his comeback alone should’ve gotten him the Masterton trophy, but all the naysayers wanna do is “overrated this, retire already that” shut the hell up.

Fact is he took a break (cause he had to) and now he’s back, big deal.

RUINED THE PENGUINS FRANCHISE:

Fact, Jagr wanted more money, fact Pittsburgh was running low in money, fact Jagr left for more money. Myth, it’s all Mario’s fault and as such he ruined the franchise. The man made the franchise in the 80′s and 90′s, and because all of a sudden it’s got hardly any money and he happens to be an owner it’s his fault? Get your hand off it. And give a bit more credit and respect where it’s due.

ABANDONED THE CLUB WHEN THEY NEEDED HIM THE MOST:

This is my favourite one. Now I’m not absolutely well versed, but didn’t Canada beat a very strong USA team in the final at the Winter Olympics? As far as I remember, every Canadian from here up the ying-yang couldn’t shut his mouth about it for weeks on end afterward. Wasn’t Mario the Captain and an integral member of said team? Fact of the matter is they may or may not have won without Mario, point is he was an integral part of their win. Now I’m not from North America (and I thank god for that everyday) but here in Australia we get really excited when two individuals by the names of Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka (if you know anything about soccer you’ll know them) choose playing for Country over playing for club. And so should you. He didn’t let the Penguins down, I think he’s done more than enough for them (geez he’s worth 8 mil but plays for half that, he could go elsewhere if you wanted him to) and continues to, so he needed a break again to recharge, get over it.

It had to be said, Mario is a great ambassador to Canada, the Penguins and hockey in general, whenever in the course of my daily life I see the number 66 anywhere I think Lemieux, only two other numbers have that effect on me 10 for Amonte (yeah i know he doesnt wear it anymore) and 99 for Gretzky.

I think it’s time we all just let Mario do what he does best, play damn good hockey, without criticizing him.

Ross Byrnes (Nothingman)

Vice Admin of Wowhockey