With so much
of Australia in the grip of a heatwave and
bushfires, it seems like the right time to turn to American ice hockey.
One of the National Hockey League’s greatest players, Mario Lemieux,
of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has hung up his skates. Again.

According to
a New York Times report, the two-time Stanley Cup winner and six-time NHL lead scorer, has been
forced to quit because of a heart complaint.

In other
words, while Hodgkins’ Disease (1993), two bouts of serious back surgery, and a
couple of major hip operations couldn’t stop him, the heart condition, atrial
fibrillation, has finally forced the Hall of Fame player off the ice. He had
retired once before, after the 1996/97 season, because of injuries, but
returned to play for the Penguins after leading a group of investors to save
the club from bankruptcy. Like Michael Jordan at the Washington Wizards, he
ended up as a franchise director and star at the same time.

Lemieux would be safe from identification in a
police line-up pretty much anywhere in Australia,
but the 40-year-old is as big as it gets in colder climes.

Over almost
two decades with the Penguins, he slotted home 690 goals and had 1,033 assists
for 1,723 points. He was captain for the team’s back-to-back Stanley Cup titles
in 1991 and 1992, and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in
both those play-offs. He was a three-time league MVP and was inducted into
the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997 – with the usual rules regarding a waiting
period thrown out to hustle him in among the greats.

Oh yeah, he
also won Olympic gold for Canada in 2002 as well as the World Cup in
2004 and the Canada Cup in 1987.