Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lemieux vs. Gretzky Revisited

While most fans in hockey markets are still starving for NHL action to resume, the only substitute that most TV networks can come up with is to replay classic games. I get e-mails from the Leafs advertising them. I also know that they do it here in Pittsburgh with classic games on Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

Today they showed a game highlighting the Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky feud. On March 26th 1996, a Gretzky post-prime career and the St. Louis Blues came to the 17,000+ sold out Civic Arena. It would be one of the few times that Wayne and Mario squared off against each other. (at least when they were both healthy enough and in the lineup at the same time)

Some of the highlights to the game were when Mario gave a huge goal-scoring display and put up 5 goals on the hapless Jon Casey. Mario that night showed with style why I think he's the better player than "The Great One" Wayne Gretzky. Sure Gretzky has all the scoring titles, but Mario is far superior in talent and skill.

Fox Sports Pittsburgh (FSP) even showed the bloody battle between two players who loved to fight! Tony Twist of the Blues and Francois Leroux of the Pens. Leroux with his large frame pummeled Tony and tore open a cut over Tony's left eye. It was certainly one that should be ranked in the top 10 of best hockey fights of all time. It took 3 officials to pull Leroux off of Twist before he really did damage!

Anyway, back to the whole Gretzky v. Lemieux deal. I guess I'm pretty biased having grown up in Pittsburgh as of which of the two are better, but if you actually go get the opinions up north, you get the reversal. I think it's a part of jealousy and some other bitterness against Lemieux for him staying loyal to the small market Pittsburgh. How many rumors have came out with wishful thinking that Lemieux may dump his Penguins in favor of coming home.

Comparatively, Lemieux and Gretzky have only been on the same side a few times in there storied careers. The other deciding factor is how many Cups each have. Gretzky owes a lot to the super-team Edmonton Oilers while dominating the 80's with additional Finals appearance in LA. Lemieux only has 2 rings with the Penguins.

Both names are tied together in Hockey history and fans will most likely debate on who is better than who for many years to come!
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