While Wayne Gretzky and the Edmonton Oilers were tearing up
the NHL 30 years ago, a then-heir apparent was making hockey history of his own
in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Mario Lemieux, who was then a 17-year-old forward for the
Laval Titans, was entering the 1983-84 season as the top junior prospect in the
world. He was coming off a 184-point season in just 66 games and saying that he
busted out in his draft year is an understatement.
Try these numbers: Lemieux scored 133 goals and assisted on
149 others for a whopping total of 282 points. Oh, by the way, he did that in
just 70 games. Lemieux broke Guy Lafleur's record of 130 goals set during the
1970-71 season and also annihilated Pierre Larouche's single-season point total
of 252 points.
You can re-read the last paragraph if you want to because
there weren't any typing errors. As Yogi Berra said "You can look it up."
That is, if you don't believe me.
On a side note, Lemieux racked up another 52 points (29
goals, 23 assists) in 14 playoff games en route to the QMJHL Championship.
I'm not exactly a math whiz, but in 84 total games, Lemieux
found the net a total of 162 times and had 172 assists for a whopping 334
Lemieux averaged just a tad over four points a game. That's
not a season, that's almost two, maybe three seasons put together. But not to
be taken for granted, the "Q" was a very-high scoring league. At that
time, the final scores would resemble those of the recent NHL All Star Games.
Look at two of John Tavares' best seasons in the OHL. From
2006-08, Tavares scored 112 goals and racked up 140 assists. Even Tavares' 252
points during that two-year span can't match up to Lemieux's destroyer season
Just think of it... back then, there wasn't such thing as
YouTube, Twitter or any other kind of social media. Videos of Gretzky during
his Oiler days can be seen online, but imagine if game footage of Lemieux's
days in Laval were on YouTube at that time?!
If there were social media, Lemieux's hype would have matched
hysteria around the junior careers of Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby, Connor
McDavid and Tavares all put together. Then multiply that by 10. That's what you
would probably get.
A lot of hockey fans look at Wayne Gretzky's NHL records and
say that the majority of his records won't be broken, but one thing can be said
about Lemieux's magical season 30 years ago: Even the Great One couldn't match
Photo of Mario Lemieux courtesy of the QMJHL