My Favourite Lemieux Goal

As you may have heard, Mario Lemieux is hanging up his skates after an extraordinary career rich with achievements and fraught with obstacles overcome. For sheer talent, I’ve never seen a better hockey player.

Here’s a video clip of my favourite Lemieux goal. That’s a bit of a misnomer, because he never actually touches the puck. He is, however, vitally important to the puck getting into the net. With apologies for the lousy video quality and the hair rock (I edited it out of a longer Team Canada tribute thingy)

Every person watching the game, from the players on the ice to the folks at home, thinks Lemieux’s going to shoot the puck. He’s in the slot, has a clear view on net and is among the best scorers in the world. Instead, with the kind of improvised genius that make good athletes great and sports wonderful to watch, he lets it pass between his legs. That’s not an uncommon move in football, but nearly unheard of in hockey.

Paul Kariya–no scoring slouch himself–has an easy shot to tie the game at 1-1 against the Americans in the 2002 Olympics gold medal game.

For some bonus grainy videos, here’s Lemieux’s first goal in the NHL (on his first shot, on his first shift) and an excellent goal against the Minnesota North Stars. In all cases, you can improve the video quality by shrinking it to its original size. Do this in You Tube by clicking the first of the three boxes in the control bar under the video (doesn’t work for the above embedded video–you have to go to the site itself).


  1. Lemieux scoring on his first shot on his first shift in the NHL isn’t unique.

    Kent Douglas, a defenceman for the Leafs, did exactly the same thing … back when there were only 6 teams and the goaltending was way better than it is today.

  2. JohnB: I’d have to absolutely disagree with you on the quality of goaltending. There’s no way to emphatically prove it, but the collective wisdom is that goaltenders are better today than ever before. Not only is their equipment better, but they’re taught technique, something that didn’t happen in a 6-league NHL.

  3. Okay, I don’t get it. I cannot for the life of me see what is going on. Can someone explain the goal in complete idiot-speak? I mean, I am no stranger to hockey, but my poor little mind can’t make sense of this.

  4. Andrea: So, speaking from the perspective of the first camera:

    1. Pronger, #44 in white, carries the puck over the blue line and stops. He ends up in the middle-bottom part of the screen.

    2. He passes it to Lemieux, who is, as the shot progresses, more or less in the centre of the frame.

    3. Instead of taking the shot, Lemieux permits the pass to go between his legs, faking a bit of a shot with his stick.

    4. The puck ends up with Paul Kariya, who’s farther away from us than Lemieux. He puts the puck past a sprawling US goaltender.

  5. Thanks, Darren. I was under the impression that Lemieux had somehow touched the puck, in that it was a Lemieux goal. But I see now that you meant it was his goal because of his thinking and not because he touched it. I kept watching the video over and over trying to see how *he* had scored, since it looked like Kariya had it. Now I get it. Thank you. I can now go back to claiming two family members as NHL greats.

  6. “There equipment is better” … oh, absolutely! Can you imagine Plante or Bower or Sawchuk or Hall wearing that equipment? They’d be unbeatable.

    Plante was the first to move out of his net to take an active role in the developing play and the butterfly was first used by Glenn Hall … and not much has changed much since then.

    You’re right about the collective wisdom … but the collective wisdom isn’t right!

  7. “There equipment” … sigh … THEY’RE equipment. Sheesh … you’d think I was unable to spell a homonym or something.

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