Photo credit: http://www.inthecrease.co.uk/
UPDATE — Today's Globe and Mail has all kinds of coverage for Mario Lemieux's retirement, including this in-depth story from Shawna Richer in Pittsburgh. The sports section's two heavyweights, Eric Duhatschek and Steve Brunt, also weigh in with columns.
Here's Brunt addressing Mario's place among the threesome of Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky — hockey's all-time greats:
Here, too, are the Toronto Star's Damien Cox and the National Post's Mark Spector. Mike Ulmer and Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun also speak to Lemieux's departure. (Strachan's, by the way, is the most queerly negative of the lot, which probably doesn't come as a suprise.) ESPN.com columnist Scott Burnside and other ESPN coverage is here.
Lemieux never had that in him. He was never much for playing the other game. He didn't put on the Pens' jersey the day he was drafted.
He never developed a smiling, self-effacing media persona and he had a hard time pretending he was having fun when he wasn't. As he made what must be his final retirement yesterday, you didn't sense that Lemieux would soon turn up in television commercials, playing on easy charm, or that he'd cling to some kind of hockey connection, just to keep a hand in the game that made him rich and famous.
Instead, it figures that once he's gone, he'll stay gone.
And, should you still want to hear a few words from little old me, keep on reading.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention yesterday's biggest hockey story. While I don't have anything profound to add to the mountains of text that will be written about Super Mario today (see above), I would like to wish him well and offer these words.
- This was the right decision. Forget hockey — your health, especially when it concerns your heart, is more important than anything. Here's hoping Mario will be skating in old-timers' games for years to come.
- Mario did everything he could to keep the Penguins in Pittsburgh. There remains a reasonable chance the club will leave, but it won't be for a lack of effort from Lemieux. We've simply reached the point where it's out of his hands.
- Thank you for the gold medal, Mario, and for all of the memories you managed to stuff into an all-too-brief 915 NHL games.