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An unlovable team and a reclusive giant
[SA2 Edition]
Toronto Star - Toronto, Ont.
Author: Dowbiggin, Bruce
Date: Nov 13, 1993
Start Page: J.16
Section: WEEKEND
Abstract (Document Summary)

Neither [SUPER MARIO Lemieux] nor those closest to him gave [Lawrence Martin] interviews for the book. Former teammates, journalists and his former agent are about as near as we get to the man many consider the greatest offensive star ever produced by Quebec. This approach results in amusing anecdotes about Lemieux losing his virginity on a date arranged by [Wayne Gretzky]. But the closest we get to Lemieux's heart are his tepid comparisons of life to golf. Martin has produced a balanced portrait of Lemieux, one that doesn't flatter or condemn. The product of a Montreal working class neighborhood, Lemieux is neither intellectually curious nor socially ambitious. Like his idol Guy Lafleur and his rival Gretzky, he rarely trains to stay in shape. In fact, he smokes continually. Unlike Gretzky, he does not appear to crave the spotlight.

Like many young athletes, Lemieux's behavior ranges from touching consideration to incredible callousness. The "Anti-Gretzky" - as he is sometimes billed - buys cars and houses for his family, but he also casually fires his longtime agent Bob Perno without telling him directly. He is brave in the face of disease and injury, but also pampered and spoiled. Lemieux resents the comparisons with Gretzky, yet seems unwilling to assume the public and private responsibilities that might alter those comparisons.

Martin has squeezed the most from the unauthorized bio format. He has been fair and has shed some understanding on Lemieux's moody brilliance. Considering the low-key, inarticulate Lemieux that emerges from Mario, it's highly unlikely that an "as-told-to" book from Lemieux could tell us more about the scoring sensation.

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