Mario Lemieux, the legendary Pittsburgh Penguins owner-player, announced his retirement as a player on Tuesday.
“The time is right because I can no longer play the game at the level I’m accustomed to,” Lemieux said at a press conference. “I think the best decision is to retire as a player and turn the game over to the younger guys who are the future of this team and this league. It’s a young man’s game now.”
Lemieux had not played in over a month due to problems with an irregular heartbeat. A similar heart condition caused Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer to collapse on the bench during a November 21 game.
The condition did not stop Lemieux from working out, preparing to return to the ice.
“If I could still play this game I would be on the ice,” Lemieux said.
The retirement is Lemeiux’s second. He left the game in 1997 after several injury-filled seasons in the mid-1990s.
In 1999 a Lemieux-led group purchased the Penguins out of bankruptcy and he returned to the ice in 2000, becoming the first player-owner of the NHL’s modern era.