On today’s date in 1984, the Pittsburgh Penguins chose Mario Lemieux as the No. 1 draft pick in that year’s NHL Entry Draft, which was held at the Montréal Forum in Montréal, Qué.
That year’s entry draft is remembered as being the starting point for several Hall-of-Fame-worthy NHL careers. In addition to Lemieux being chosen first overall, legendary Montréal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy was chosen in the third round; Brett Hull in the sixth round; and Gary Suter and Luc Robitaille in the ninth round. Lemieux, Suter and Robitaille each went on to win the Calder Trophy (in 1985, ’86 and ’87, respectively), which is awarded annually to the rookie of the year.
Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Lemieux led the Penguins to two consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in 1991 and 1992. Under his ownership, Pittsburgh won a third Stanley Cup in 2009, making Lemieux the only person to have his name on the Cup as both a player and an owner.
Lemieux also led Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal in 2002; a championship at the 2004 World Cup; and a victory at the Canada Cup in 1987. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player as voted by the players four times; the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player during the regular season three times; the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s points leader six times; and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1991 and 1992. At the time of his retirement, he was the NHL’s seventh all-time scorer with 690 goals and 1,033 assists. He ranks second in NHL history with a 0.754 goals-per game (GPG) average throughout his career, ranking behind only Mike Bossy, who averaged 0.762 GPG.
ROYAL CANADIAN MINT HOCKEY MEDALLIONS
Starting in 1997, the Royal Canadian Mint launched its Hockey Hall of Fame Inductees Medallion Collection. That year, to commemorate Lemieux’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, a set was issued honouring him and the two other inductees, Glen Sather and Bryan Trottier. One set was issued in sterling silver, with a mintage of 1,997, while another was issued in nickel. The success of the series led to future issues, which continued until 2001.