Mario Lemieux achieved yet another first in his Hall of Fame career in 2009 when he became the first person to win a Stanley Cup as both an owner and a player. The Penguins’ cup championship fulfilled a dream Mr. Lemieux began in September 1999, when he led a group of investors who brought the franchise out of bankruptcy.
Even before defeating Detroit in the 2009 Stanley Cup final, Mr. Lemieux and co-owner Ron Burkle had established themselves as one of the premier ownership groups in the NHL, winning praise for their off-ice business accomplishments as well as the positive, player-friendly atmosphere on the hockey side. The Penguins have sold out a team-record 118 straight games; sold out every suite at Mellon Arena for two straight seasons; and established records for local television ratings, merchandise sales, and website hits. The Penguins also were named the fastest-growing brand in the NHL by Forbes Magazine, and the team ranked No. 3 in fan relations in all of professional sports in a survey conducted by ESPN The Magazine.
The new Consol Energy Center, currently under construction across the street from Mellon Arena, is another gleaming achievement of the Lemieux-Burkle era. After a lengthy quest for a new building that would ensure the team’s long-term future in Pittsburgh, the owners reached agreement on a new arena deal with Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl in March 2007.
From 1984 to 1997 and 2000 to 2006, Mr. Lemieux won six league scoring titles, three MVP trophies and two Conn Smythe Trophies as playoff MVP. As team captain, Mr. Lemieux led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. As a center iceman, he dominated play for parts of three decades despite a series of medical setbacks, including multiple back surgeries and a battle with Hodgkin’s disease. He retired in 2006 as the No. 7 all-time scorer in NHL history with 1,723 points. He also ranked eighth all-time in goals (690) and 10th in assists (1,033).
In addition to his hockey accomplishments, he continues to oversee the Mario Lemieux Foundation for cancer research and neonatal research, and hosts its celebrity golf tournament, which has raised more than $8 million for charity. Mr. Lemieux and his wife, Nathalie, live in Sewickley with their four children.