Le Magnifique: Hockey's Brightest Star This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   The crowd roared as the arena was bright with the explosion of indoor fireworks. Through the smoke a single ray of light shone down on the man who changed the world of hockey forever. He glided on the ice with powerful grace, driving fear and admiration into the hearts of his opponents.

Le Magnifique. Super Mario. Mario Lemieux. He came to the ailing franchise of the Pittsburgh Penguins and brought it to two consecutive Stanley Cup championships. After running a record-breaking rampage through the junior league, Mario was drafted by the Penguins in 1984. In the violent game of hockey, with nose-shattering fights and rib-breaking checks, Mario punished the opposition not with the force of his 200 pounds, or the leverage of his 6'4" frame, but through his swift goal scoring. He would weave through the defense, leaving them dazed by his speed and size, to shoot the puck past the goalie into the white mesh of the net. Impossible to beat, Lemieux brought the Stanley Cup, the most prestigious award in hockey, to Pittsburgh first in the 1990-91 season and then again in 1991-92. Throughout his career he won the Calder, Hart, Ross, Byng, and Masterton trophies. He was the first and only player in NHL history to do so.

Lemieux accomplished what no other player could on the ice and proved undeniably strong off the ice as well. Through his wonderful career he was wrought with spinal injuries and cancer - Hodgkin's disease. He experienced weeks of radiation treatment and years of pain. After sitting out for the 1994-95 season, Lemieux came back, lighting the arena as he received standing ovation after standing ovation. Though teammates, opposition, and fans would agree he was as strong as ever, Lemieux felt that he had lost a step and this April he announced his retirement.

Some fans were angry and accused him of giving up, while others simply felt a huge loss. Others wished they could thank him for his years of great hockey. But no matter how his fans felt, none could deny that they had witnessed the making of a legend as they followed him on and off the ice. This year we begin a new season without Mario and we wonder if the world of hockey will survive the loss of Lemieux - whose name in French simply means the best. l


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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