Mario Lemieux Night at the Igloo report written by Denise.
Mario Lemieux had a busy week with his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday (along with ex-Pens Bryan Trottier and Glen Sather), and Mario Lemieux Night at the Civic Arena on Wednesday. For those of you who could neither see the game nor hear it , allow me (Denise) to give you some of the highlights:
- The Pens chose an appropriate night to honor Mario as they retired his jersey before playing against the Boston Bruins, the team Lemieux scored his first goal against on that first shift, in that first game...
- The program was hosted by Mike Lange, and Mario and his family were honored by several presentations: Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, and Tom Barrasso presented Mario with a custom 5 magnum bottle of cabernet sauvignon; Pens owners Howard Baldwin and Roger Marino presented Mario's daughters with 14k gold, diamond-encrusted "#66" pendants, and donated a $250,000 check to the Mario Lemieux Foundation for Cancer Research.
- Mario remained true to form, delivering a brief speech in which he thanked all of the great fans that have supported him through the years, during which he got a bit teary-eyed. The fans responded with several standing ovations.
- Several messages of best wishes were displayed on the scoreboard during the game, from such notables as the Prime Minister of Canada, Barbara Johnson (Badger Bob's widow), "Mr. Rogers" himself (Fred Rogers), and Michael Jordan.
- Mario was honored with one last honorary goal called over the P.A. system (with the lingering "Lemieeeeeuuuuux" echoing through The Igloo), after which he donned his jersey for the last time. The banner, which has "Mario Lemieux" at the top, "66" in the middle, and "1984-1997" on the bottom flanked by the old and new logos, was finally raised to the rafters to Tina Turner's "Simply The Best." The banner hangs between the American and Canadian flags (and I know of at least one fan that will now have TWO good reasons to have her hand over her heart at the beginning of a game!).
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