Can A Single Statue Honor Everything Mario Lemieux Has Done? – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Can A Single Statue Honor Everything Mario Lemieux Has Done?

Today’s unveiling was almost perfect. One thing that would have made it perfect would have been the absence of the woman next to me who kept yelling, “WE CAN’T HEAR YOU,” and we were only 10 rows deep from the barrier. I can’t imagine what fans stacked all the way back to Washington Place thought was going on when cheering intermittently erupted from the front.
A highlight reel and general jackassery from the crowd kept us entertained until Mike Lange came to the podium to warm us up for the main event. David Morehouse followed with a story about sneaking into the Civic Arena when he was a kid and literally reminded us all that no one in Pittsburgh gave a penguinpoop about the Pens until Mario arrived.
Then it was Mario’s turn. In his always-classy manner he brought his entire family up with him for the big moment. And suddenly there it was!
I wish I could tell you what Mario said when he gave his speech, but I have to give the annoying lady credit because we couldn’t hear a thing.
That highlight reel and the platitude-filled speeches got me thinking about Mario the player and Mario the owner. In my opinion, today’s ceremony was missing something: a second statue. You know, the one of Lemieux in a dress shirt with his elbows up on the counter, bottle of water close at hand, watching from the owners’ box. It’s hard to honor everything he has done for the franchise off the ice with a single (albeit very cool) statue.
Mario the player is a legend–an almost unbelievable superhero who dominates teams after radiation treatments, scores five goals five ways, and puts hockey sticks in the hands of tens of thousands of local kids simply because they see him play.
Mario the owner is something different. He is quiet, savvy, and analytical. He is tenacious, and his passion for the game and for Pittsburgh are the reasons we still have hockey in our city at all. This is obviously a chicken and egg thing, because his personality fueled his greatness and his greatness fueled his personality. Which Mario is more important to the Penguins and fans is debatable, though. Or do they even have to be separated?
Honestly, I think they do. Mario is getting into Rooney-ville around here. Art Sr. might as well have a church in the North Side named after him the way Steelers fans, including myself, have sainted him. It’s just what happens with larger-than-life figures. If things keep going the way they are for the Pens, Mario isn’t far behind. While our admiration for Mario the owner is absolutely rooted in his legendary career, it should also be distinct from it.
I’m not actually arguing for a second statue here. That would be ridiculous. I really like the one we have because it captures Mario the player perfectly. It’s our job to make sure that the next generation of Pens fans and the one after that and… you get the point… know the FULL story behind Mario’s statue. I love Mario the player, but I’m still a bigger fan of Mario the owner, and I hope his work never falls into the shadow of the statue.
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