Mario Lemieux on Sportsmanship

Mario LemieuxKudos to athlete and businessman Mario Lemieux, former center forward and current owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins, for denouncing the National Hockey League’s sanction of malicious initiation of physical force (as against rough play during competition) in hockey. The NHL didn’t do much to discipline the New York Islanders after they attacked the Penguins in a recent game that resulted in 346 penalty minutes.

Lemieux, a husband, father, and cancer survivor who saved the Penguins from financial failure by buying the team and is one of the sport’s greatest players, issued a statement about the NHL’s appeasement of brute force: “Hockey is a tough, physical game, and it always should be. But what happened Friday night on Long Island [when the Islanders attacked the Penguins gang-style] wasn’t hockey. It was a travesty. It was painful to watch the game I love turn into a sideshow like that. The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed. We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players.  We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action. If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it.”

Number 66 Mario Lemieux is one of hockey’s best players and one of the sport’s most successful businessmen. His all-around skills were amazing on ice and he led the Penguins to stunning victories year after year. Today, the Penguins have one of the NHL’s highest television ratings in America, according to FoxSports, and the team is worth $235 million, according to Forbes. When the ‘Guins won their third Stanley Cup a couple of years ago, Lemieux became the only individual to win the Stanley Cup as both a player and owner. He speaks with confidence, honor and reverence for the game. The NHL, which turned the other cheek on the Islanders’ brutality, should listen.

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