Lemieux to continue to play next season

PITTSBURGH, July 31 (UPI) -- Team owner and captain Mario Lemieux confirmed Thursday that he will return to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the 2003-04 season.

Despite missing 15 games, Lemiuex, 37, was sixth in the NHL in scoring last season with 28 goals and 63 assists. He said he was excited about the upcoming campaign.


"I feel great, I've been working out, and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the ice," Lemieux said. "With some of the guys we have back and some of the young players we have coming up, it should be a very exciting year for us."

The financially troubled Penguins had to pare an already austere payroll late last season and floundered.

In September 1999, he led an ownership group that brought the Penguins out of bankruptcy, and became team's CEO and chairman of the board.

The Penguins staggered through a 16-game winless streak and finished next-to-last in the NHL with 65 points. They have missed the playoffs each of the last two years.

Forced into retirement by persistent back pain, Lemieux made a remarkable comeback in 2000. He collected 35 goals and 41 assists in 43 games after sitting out three seasons.


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