first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREThe top 10 theme park moments of 2019 These were preseason games, against diluted lineups and opponents interested mostly in getting off the ice injury free. But they might offer the first sign that, even as Crosby awaits the mantle of stardom, the Penguins remain Lemieux’s team, and always will be as long as the No. 8 goal scorer in NHL history keeps playing. “He’s what it is,” coach Eddie Olczyk said Monday. “He’s everything.” With rule changes designed to create more scoring, the best lineup around him in five years and, yes, Sid the Kid waiting to become the Next Mario, Lemieux could be ready to have the best season he’s had in years. Even if it’s been nine years since he played a full season and almost two years since he last scored a goal. “I think he looks more than pretty good,” Olczyk said. “And that’s what we’re expecting, nothing less.” Lemieux isn’t predicting his first 100-point season since 1996-97, his last full season before beginning a 44-month retirement that ended in December 2000. As always, health is his No. 1 issue following years of debilitating back pain and hip injuries that, in 2001-02 and 2003-04, limited him to 24 and 10 games, respectively. “I feel pretty good,” he said Monday. “My back has been very good the last few months, my hip, and I did a lot of work this summer. It’s a long season, obviously, and there might be some ups and downs, but so far I’m starting healthy.” 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! But check the NHL preseason scoring summaries — OK, some people do — and it’s almost as if Lemieux has turned back the hands of time to the days when he was 18, Crosby’s age. On Tuesday, Lemieux had a four-point night against Columbus. On Sunday, it was another goal and three more assists against Washington, all for a player who turns 40 on Wednesday, the very night Crosby makes his NHL debut. center_img PITTSBURGH — For the first time in his NHL career, Mario Lemieux isn’t the most-watched player in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ training camp. Doesn’t get the most interview requests. Doesn’t wear the best-selling jersey number in town. Thanks to No. 87 — that’s super rookie Sidney Crosby, of course –No. 66 is playing the unaccustomed role of No. 2 in a town where he’s always been the No. 1 star. It’s one the Hall of Famer gladly accepts since, as the team owner as well as the on-ice captain, it means new stars are coming and better days are ahead for a franchise coming off three consecutive playoff-free seasons and a bankruptcy filing six years ago. last_img read more