Here's an excerpt from my latest TribLive.com column. To read the entire piece, click HERE.
If not for injury and illness, Mario Lemieux would have challenged Wayne Gretzky’s mark of 894 career goals.
Lemieux had 690 goals in 915 games. In 1996-97, the season before he retired for the next three-and-a-half, Lemieux netted 50 times. If he averages 40 goals during his idle period, that puts Lemieux at approximately 830. Take away cancer and back problems, he might push 1,000. Ovechkin could be chasing Lemieux, and futilely.
But what happened, happened. Lemieux was ennobled by everything he conquered. His legend was burnished. It’s a better story.
In terms of the eye test, Lemieux is the best goal-scorer ever. He had all the tricks of the trade.