Thursday, March 08, 2012
The bronzed God of Pittsburgh hockey
"But that was his signature, making defensemen look silly. "It sums up what he did."-- Mario Lemieux fan Jill Balmer part of the 6,000 Penguin fans attending the unveiling of a statue heralding the career of Mario Lemieux
Safe to say, Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton probably never thought there would be a statue made of them, but there they are, immortalized to a degree on a plaza at the Consol Energy Centre, the moving parts of the celebration of Mario Lemieux's magnificent career.
In fact, "Le Maginfique" is the name given to the statue of Lemieux, created by Master sculptor Bruce Wolfe and assisted by Chris Linden an art director at the University of California at Berkeley, who comes by his love of the Penguins honestly having coached minor and high school hockey in the city from 2005-08.
The statue stands 10 feet, 3 inches, is 13 feet long and 10 feet deep, weighs 4,700 pounds. Construction of it took fifteen months and it required six days of transportation aboard a flatbed truck to arrive in Pittsburgh from the Piedmont, California construction site.
It's design was modelled on a Sports Illustrated photo from a February 1989 issue, part of an article comparing Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky's careers.
Like then, now the two are equals again, though Gretzky is one up on Mario in bronzing, he has long had a statue in his honour, easily found on any trip to Edmonton and there's one outside of Staples Centre in Los Angeles, equal commemorations of his contribution to hockey in those two cities.
Now the other revered name of that era of hockey can lay claim to his own piece of bronze.
For Lemieux, the statue which was funded by some 25 private investors, including the other members of the Penguin ownership group, is yet another thank you for his contribution to Penguin hockey both on the ice and off of it, perhaps even more so the latter.
For if not for Lemieux's efforts in the darkest days of the Penguins franchise, the team would not even be in the city, for the most part it was Lemieux alone who saved the game in the Pennsylvania city, that alone is more than worth the price of bronze.
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Staute outside Penguins' Consol home honours Lemieux
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- The making of Mario Lemieux's statue
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Mario's monument fitting
Pittsburgh Post Gazette-- A super statue for a super Mario
Globe and Mail-- Penguins immortalize Lemieux
Toronto Star-- Mario Lemieux statue unveiled by Pittsburgh Penguins
Toronto Sun-- Pens bronze Mario
USA Today-- Mario Lemieux statue unveiled in Pittsburgh
CBC-- Lemieux staute unveiled in Pittsburgh
New York Times-- Statue of Lemieux includes Nod to Islanders
ESPN-- Staute of Mario Lemieux unveiled
TSN-- The two other guys in that Maginficent tribute