EXCERPT | Oct. 15,1984
This is an article from the June 8, 2009 issue
Mario Lemieux putthe Penguins on the winning path
The success of thePenguins traces to one man: Mario Lemieux. From his first scrimmage he liftedthe last-place team—as E.M. Swift reported—and went on to score 1,723 points in915 games, leading Pittsburgh to its only two Stanley Cups. He rescued the teamfrom bankruptcy in 1999 by becoming principal owner and now has the club in itssecond straight finals.
Let posterity notethat the light at the end of the tunnel that is Pittsburgh Penguins hockey wasglimpsed at 2:29 p.m. (EDT) on Sept. 20, 1984, when Mario Lemieux scored hisfirst goal in an intrasquad scrimmage. True, Lemieux's goal came against theNHL's most inept defense—the Pens allowed a league-high 390 goals lastseason—but from the reaction of the 400 Pittsburgh diehards who came to see theNHL's top draft choice, the most highly touted rookie since Guy Lafleur, youwould have thought Lemieux had just scored the game-winning goal in a StanleyCup finals.
Taking a pass inthe slot, the 6'4", 200-pound Lemieux, 19, tapped the puck through adefenseman's skates, sidestepped deftly, then swept up the puck and shot itpast startled goalie Michel Dion. The arena went bonkers—"Our savior hasarrived!" screamed one fan—and for minutes the crowd buzzed as if witnessto a miracle, a penguin taking flight, say. In the next hour Lemieux drew gaspsfrom the crowd half a dozen more times, snaking the puck away from defensemenwith his amazing reach, stickhandling in maddening circles, slithering perfectpasses. "Mario did some great things today, scary things," gushedPenguins scout Bruce Haralson. "He did things only Gretzky can do. That'swhat's scary—to think there might be another one."
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From SteveAschburner's column on how Dwight Howard and the Magic advanced to the NBAFinals
It's important notto overlook Orlando's utilization of pick-and-rolls to free its primaryoffensive weapons. Or, for that matter, the flappable but effective Stan VanGundy's knack for adjusting and attacking mismatches—even if it leads to anover-reliance on the heretofore erratic Rafer Alston. Defensively, the Magichave become masterful at funneling penetrating opponents into Howard, who ismore adept than your average 7-footer at altering or blocking shots withoutfouling.
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