Goalies Fear to View Lemieux
He has had Hodgkin's disease (in remission) and a chronically bad back, so there's a chance he has lost some strength. He's a well-worn 31 years old, so there's a chance he has lost some speed. And because of his maladies he missed all of last season, so there's a chance he has lost some sharpness.
But none of that seems to matter to NHL goalies when the subject is Pittsburgh Penguin superstar Mario Lemieux (above left). Asked whom they would least like bearing down on them with the puck, 15 of the 29 keepers who responded chose Lemieux, who bagged his second straight hat trick Saturday. "He's a big man with speed, he's shifty and he's got a long reach," says Vancouver Canuck goalie Kirk McLean. "He can shoot when it looks like he's deking." Others cited Lemieux's patience, vision and experience. Of the other snipers mentioned—Vancouver's Pavel Bure (second, with four votes), the Detroit Red Wings' Sergei Fedorov, the Calgary Flames' Theo Fleury, Pittsburgh's Jaromir Jagr, the New York Rangers' Alexei Kovalev and the Winnipeg Jets' Teemu Selanne—only Fleury is not European.
And the smooth-skating Canadian with whom Lemieux is often compared? Wayne Gretzky (above right), 34 and definitely not as strong or as fast as he once was, did not get a mention.