Before we get to the Daily Links and the NHL trade rumors — In a shocking twist, Mario Lemieux is exploring a return to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Gobsmacked team sources told Pittsburgh Hockey Now the Penguins 55-year-old owner, who first retired in 1997 at the age of 31, then returned on Dec. 27, 2000, to propel the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Final, has resumed skating at the Penguins practice facility with the hopes of a short NHL return.
Lemieux retired during the 2005-06 season with atrial fibrillation.
A rink source who witnessed Lemieux’s on-ice workouts with private trainers tipped off PHN. Apparently, Lemieux took advantage of the closed-to-the-public rink policies at the UPMC Lemieux Complex to begin skating nearly one month ago.
PHN was able to confirm Lemieux’s exploration with multiple former teammates and team sources.
“He’s stone-cold serious about it. He’s been watching (Jagr) have all of the fun, and he wondered what he had left,” said a friend and former teammate familiar with the process. “His hands are still there. His legs are catching up.”
The 6-foot-4 Lemieux has been skating for nearly one month and has consulted doctors about exertion and physical contact. Gordie Howe played one season in the WHA at age 52. Lemieux would be the oldest player in NHL history (Tim Horton, 44) if his comeback is successful.
Lemieux’s old friends even laughed about him on the NHL trade block.
“Bergy (Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin) joked he would send a second-round pick to Hexy just for 20 games with Mario in Montreal,” our source laughed. “If nothing else, he’ll be a fine fourth-line center and power-play specialist. I think he can do it.”
The sources added one more thing:
No, Lemieux is not planning a comeback. After the year we’ve had, we figured everyone needed a good laugh. I totally chickened out and didn’t make this the lead headline. There are enough trolls in this world who wouldn’t get the joke and only use it to further their agenda. But if you’ve come this far, you’ve probably cursed me at least once and hopefully had a chuckle. Send it along to some friends.
You hate me about now, don’t you?
Now, on to the Daily Links:
Pittsburgh Hockey Now: Teddy Blueger and Brandon Tanev returned to practice, but Tristan Jarry is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
PHN+: Anthony Angello is a pair of big shoulders and hard hits the Penguins need. He’s grooving well with the Penguins.
TSN: There’s a new No. 1 on the TSN NHL Trade Bait list.
Savard is an interesting piece, and it speaks to the rapidly changing trade market. It seems NHL GMs toss a lure into the water, hoping this one will catch the big fish, but when they don’t get the reaction they want, things change. It’s been a near-daily occurrence. It seems only Buffalo has committed to selling.
It’s also a buyers’ market.
Sportsnet: Four teams don’t know if they are buyers or sellers but could make big moves. Here are the four to watch heading to the NHL trade deadline.
Calgary needs to make up its mind. They don’t have the young talent like Vancouver. Middling isn’t good enough.
National Hockey Now:
*Philly: The Sabres win! The Sabres win! The Sabres win! They snapped an 18-game winless streak and beat the Philadelphia Flyers, 6-1. For the Flyers, THIS is rock bottom.
*Florida: The Panthers finally put pen to paper and signed goalie of the future and Team USA star Spencer Knight to an ELC.
*NYI: Cory Schneider began his rehab in the AHL. Schneider played his first game since March 6, 2020.
That could give the Islanders a nice trade piece at the deadline.
*Boston: Coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t playing around with his team anymore. He’s chirped veterans, young defensemen, and now his Rocket Richard-winning winger. He said David Pastrnak “has to get a little dirtier.”
*Vegas: Alex Pietrangelo returned, but Vegas lost 4-2 to LA, and Fleury wasn’t so great.
*San Jose: GOTTA SEE THIS: How would you celebrate your first NHL goal? Nikolai Knyzhov wore an interesting wig to the postgame press conference.
*Colorado: Future star defenseman Alex Newhook signed his ELC, too.
Did we mention Buffalo beat Philadelphia?? The Penguins playoff magic number just subtracted two more points.