Mario Lemieux

*Excerpted (and slightly edited for the purposes of this recording) from a blog post by Grantland’s Sean McIndoe*

The year he became draft eligible, Mario Lemieux scored 282 points in a 70-game season.

[The struggling Penguins were so desperate to draft him,] that by March 1984 they were practically shooting the puck into their own net. It ended up being a smart move, as Lemieux dominated immediately.

[However,] Lemieux also battled health issues, including a bad back and hip and a bout with cancer, that wiped out chunks of several seasons and forced his first retirement when he was just 31 years old. Despite retiring 22 years after he was drafted, he never even reached the 1,000-game mark.

By the time he retired for good in 2006, Lemieux owned Pittsburgh — literally. He rescued the franchise from bankruptcy in 1999 and kept the team from relocating, paving the way for the team’s Sidney Crosby–led renaissance.