On today’s date in 1965, legendary hockey star Mario Lemieux was born in Montréal, Qué.
Widely acknowledged as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, Lemieux led the Pittsburgh Penguins to two consecutive Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
While serving as the team’s owner in 2009, the Penguins won a third championship to make Lemieux the only person to have his name on the Cup as both a player and an owner. He has since won another two back-to-back Stanley Cups – in 2016 and 2017 – to bring his total to five.
Lemieux was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy twice and the Art Ross Trophy six times, and he’s a three-time recipient of the Hart Trophy. He also won the Lester B. Pearson Award as the most outstanding player as voted by the players four times.
The Pittsburgh Penguins retired his #66 in 1997, the same year he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Lemieux also led Team Canada to a Canada Cup in 1987; an Olympic gold medal in 2002; and a world championship at the 2004 World Cup.
He ranks third in NHL history with a 0.754 goals-per game (GPG) average throughout his career, behind only New York Islanders legend Mike Bossy, who had an average of 0.762 GPG, and five-time Stanley Cup Champion Cy Dennenny, who averaged 0.756 GPG in 10 seasons from 1916-29.
The Royal Canadian Mint began selling hockey medallions in 1997, and that year, to mark Lemieux’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, a set of medallions 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 series’ success led to annual issues that would continue until 2001.