Today is Mario Lemieux’s 46th birthday. The above photo, taken by SI photographer Lane Stewart, was a part of E.M. Swift’s 1984 profile of the Penguins 19-year-old rookie. The story’s opening paragraph sets the mood in hockey-crazy Pittsburgh:
"Let posterity note that the light at the end of the tunnel that is Pittsburgh Penguin hockey was first glimpsed at 2:29 p.m. (E.D.T.) on Sept. 20, 1984, which was when Mario Lemieux scored his first goal in a Penguin intrasquad scrimmage. True, Lemieux’s goal came against the NHL’s most inept defense—the Pens allowed a league-high 390 goals last season while sagging to the worst record, 16-58-6, in the NHL—but from the reaction of the 400 Pittsburgh diehards who came to see the NHL’s top draft choice, the most highly touted rookie since Guy Lafleur, you would have thought Lemieux had just scored the game-winning goal in a Stanley Cup final."
SI VAULT: Penguins land a rare bird (10.15.84)
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