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Does Canada ever lose a major tournament with Mario Lemieux playing in all of them?

View Poll Results: Does Canada ever lose a major tournament with Mario Lemieux playing in all of them?
Mario helps Canada win in 1996 and 1998 and they don't lose until 2006 22 59.46%
They win in 1996 but not 1998 9 24.32%
They win in 1998 but lose in 1996 0 0%
Mario doesn't make a difference in either tournament and Canada still loses 6 16.22%
Voters: 37. You may not vote on this poll

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Old
11-02-2012, 08:41 PM
  #1
Big Phil
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Does Canada ever lose a major tournament with Mario Lemieux playing in all of them?

Okay, here's the deal. Mario played in the 1987 Canada Cup and was along with Gretzky the straw that stirred the drink on that team. Canada wins a tight one. In 1991 he doesn't play but Canada still wins. In 1996 he is the best player in the game but because of his back doesn't partake in the World Cup. Canada loses a close one where Mario is probably the difference. In 1998 he is retired and doesn't play in the Olympics. He comes back to the NHL and plays in the 2002 Olympics and 2004 World Cup. Both tournaments he is a key player and in both championship games he registers a point. A month before the 2006 Olympics an old Mario retires for good. Canada puts on a disgraceful performance.

Look, I know you can do the same thing with Niedermayer here. In 1998 and 2006 he isn't on the Olympic team because of not being invited and an injury respectively. In 2002 and 2010 he plays and Canada wins gold. But this is Mario we are talking about and since Niedermayer was on the 1996 World Cup team he didn't make a difference there. But Mario probably would have.

Which leads me to my next question. Let's say Mario plays in 1996. He is the premier player in the NHL and all the focus would be on him from the Americans thus opening up even more room for Lindros and even an older Gretzky. In my opinion Canada wins. Let's also say he doesn't retire in 1997. He plays in the Olympics and is very likely the best player in the world at that time as well (Jagr would be right there too). Lemieux always seemed to have Hasek's number in his career which would have helped in the semi final. Does Lemieux's prescence catapult Canada to gold?

I won't count 2006 since him playing wouldn't have made a difference at that point in his career. But if Canada wins these tournaments we win everyone one of them. There would be a 25 year gap between losses (1981 to 2006).

Your thoughts.

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11-02-2012, 08:48 PM
  #2
Dennis Bonvie
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
Okay, here's the deal. Mario played in the 1987 Canada Cup and was along with Gretzky the straw that stirred the drink on that team. Canada wins a tight one. In 1991 he doesn't play but Canada still wins. In 1996 he is the best player in the game but because of his back doesn't partake in the World Cup. Canada loses a close one where Mario is probably the difference. In 1998 he is retired and doesn't play in the Olympics. He comes back to the NHL and plays in the 2002 Olympics and 2004 World Cup. Both tournaments he is a key player and in both championship games he registers a point. A month before the 2006 Olympics an old Mario retires for good. Canada puts on a disgraceful performance.

Look, I know you can do the same thing with Niedermayer here. In 1998 and 2006 he isn't on the Olympic team because of not being invited and an injury respectively. In 2002 and 2010 he plays and Canada wins gold. But this is Mario we are talking about and since Niedermayer was on the 1996 World Cup team he didn't make a difference there. But Mario probably would have.

Which leads me to my next question. Let's say Mario plays in 1996. He is the premier player in the NHL and all the focus would be on him from the Americans thus opening up even more room for Lindros and even an older Gretzky. In my opinion Canada wins. Let's also say he doesn't retire in 1997. He plays in the Olympics and is very likely the best player in the world at that time as well (Jagr would be right there too). Lemieux always seemed to have Hasek's number in his career which would have helped in the semi final. Does Lemieux's prescence catapult Canada to gold?

I won't count 2006 since him playing wouldn't have made a difference at that point in his career. But if Canada wins these tournaments we win everyone one of them. There would be a 25 year gap between losses (1981 to 2006).

Your thoughts.
If they could lose with Gretzky, why not with Mario?

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Old
11-02-2012, 08:53 PM
  #3
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Win 96 lose 98

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11-02-2012, 08:53 PM
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In 1996 Lemieux was likely still the best player in the world. I assume that Canada still only needs to win one of the final two games, and given that Canada carried a fair bit of the play in the finals I guess that he makes a difference.

Lemieux in 1998 is a different story. We don't really know what kind of shape he's in health wise, although presumably he's still a very valuable player. Still, the Czechs outplayed Canada in 1998 and I'm unconvinced that a potentially banged up Lemieux makes up for it. Canada would still have to play Russia in the finals as well, so it's a bigger leap to make than in 1996. I wonder though if Crawford would have dreamed of Lemieux in the shootout over someone like Shanahan?

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11-02-2012, 08:59 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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I doubt he makes a difference in 2006 - he was really slow by that point and would have been murdered on the big ice. Remember that 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and 2004 World Cup were on small ice.

In 1996, he very well could have made a difference. Assuming 1998 goes the same way - I do like Mario's chances in the shootout but it's no guarantee.

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11-02-2012, 09:48 PM
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I doubt he makes a difference in 2006 - he was really slow by that point and would have been murdered on the big ice. Remember that 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and 2004 World Cup were on small ice.
The ice in 2002 was international size, but even then Lemieux's speed was an issue.

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11-02-2012, 09:51 PM
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The ice in 2002 was international size, but even then Lemieux's speed was an issue.
You're right. Forgot when the rule allowing North American host cities to use NHL sized ice came into affect

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11-02-2012, 09:56 PM
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Was it? Even in Salt Lake City?
Yep. Pain in the ass to get used to - I kept going into the corners to get the puck, and didn't have enough time to get back in front of the net after I would inevitably turn it over.

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11-02-2012, 11:06 PM
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2006 Mario had nothing left in the tank, he couldn't have played even if he wanted to.

now 1996-98 was a different story;
1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 70 69 92 161
1996-97 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 50 72 122

he was healthy in the fall of 1996 and would have been the best player in that tournament. I think that's enough to get Canada over the top.

1998 as well; that team also had Sakic and Kariya injured and guys like Keith Primeau, an aging Trevor Linden, and Rob Zamuner on the team. Depth at forward was thin. Seeing as how they only needed one goal, Mario should have been able to make a positive impact.

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11-02-2012, 11:14 PM
  #10
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Mario had nice luck against Hasek in international tournaments. Scored on him in 1987 and 2002. I would have felt a lot more confident heading into that 98 shootout knowing he'd be one of the shooters.

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11-02-2012, 11:18 PM
  #11
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with Mario, anything is possible

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11-02-2012, 11:44 PM
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I doubt it. In 72, he would definitely make a difference, possibly giving the Canadians a convincing series win. The 79 and 81 losses were because of team defense, goaltending and a psychological variable that only Gretzky AND Lemieux were able to defeat in 87. Without the both of them, its possible they lose that series too.

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11-03-2012, 12:21 AM
  #13
Big Phil
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
I doubt it. In 72, he would definitely make a difference, possibly giving the Canadians a convincing series win. The 79 and 81 losses were because of team defense, goaltending and a psychological variable that only Gretzky AND Lemieux were able to defeat in 87. Without the both of them, its possible they lose that series too.
I think I mentioned in the original post that it only starts when Mario's career begins. In other words, 1981 and 1979 don't apply here. The tournaments during Mario's career only apply.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
I doubt he makes a difference in 2006 - he was really slow by that point and would have been murdered on the big ice. Remember that 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City and 2004 World Cup were on small ice.

In 1996, he very well could have made a difference. Assuming 1998 goes the same way - I do like Mario's chances in the shootout but it's no guarantee.
Here's the thing, does it even get to a shootout? Think of how much more attractive Lemieux makes an entire team. Lemieux is the #1 center and Lindros fills a much easier #2 position in 1998. How do you stop that? I honestly don't think the Canadians even get into a shootout with Mario there. Banged up or not he had just led the entire NHL in points with 122 in 1997.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Bonvie View Post
If they could lose with Gretzky, why not with Mario?
To be fair Gretzky was a 35 year old in 1996 still very good but no longer the best player in the game. Add a couple years onto that with 1998. Gretzky was no longer "the man" on Canada after 1991. He shouldn't have been relied upon so much in 1996 and even then he still led the Canadians in scoring. But Mario in 1996 trumps Gretzky in 1996.

Look, I honestly put it this way in 1996. Mario was the best player in the game. We talk about the impact Orr and Hull would have made in 1982 and I put Mario a couple notches below Orr in 1972 and definitely more vital than Hull would have been in 1972. Mario in 1996 is worth having on the team just for the power play alone and we all know he would do more than that.

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11-03-2012, 01:28 AM
  #14
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considering how things actually went, and how good he was in 1996 and still in 1998, yes, I think they win both.

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11-03-2012, 02:16 AM
  #15
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You would think if Mario thought he had enough left in the tank to play one more NHL season in '98, that he would have stuck around to play in the '98 Olympics, since he hadn't yet played in the Olympics to that point.

I'll say yes in '96, no in '98.

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11-03-2012, 02:37 AM
  #16
seventieslord
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You would think if Mario thought he had enough left in the tank to play one more NHL season in '98, that he would have stuck around to play in the '98 Olympics, since he hadn't yet played in the Olympics to that point.

I'll say yes in '96, no in '98.
Surely you know more about Mario's retirement than that.

He was an art ross winner in 1997, and a strong candidate for one in 2001 if he had played a full season. In between - I have no doubt he was that good. The retirement had nothing to do with his tank.

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11-03-2012, 03:58 AM
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Surely you know more about Mario's retirement than that.

He was an art ross winner in 1997, and a strong candidate for one in 2001 if he had played a full season. In between - I have no doubt he was that good. The retirement had nothing to do with his tank.
It's not his ability I'm talking about, it's his durability. Playing most (70 games?) of an NHL schedule, Olympics and playoffs after playing most of two full seasons + playoffs may just have been too much for Mario at that point, that's probably why he retired again. Remember, there's also a long flight to/from Japan for the Olympics, a compressed NHL schedule, etc.

He played more in '96 & '97 combined than in any two consecutive seasons since '88 & '89. After his '97 retirement, the most NHL games he played in two consecutive seasons was 91.

Maybe he could have made it through another season, it's difficult to say with any certainty that he couldn't have, but it's also nothing close to given that he could have. Why wouldn't he hang on for one more season if he felt he could? Wouldn't playing in his first Olympics and trying to help Canada win its first gold medal in Olympic hockey in decades be enough incentive? I just tend to think that if he knew he could have, he would have, but that may be wrong. I'm sure he could have just practiced here and there until the Olympics... or even not and just rolled out of bed and headed for Japan... and still been about the best in the world, so it's obviously not an issue of ability.

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11-03-2012, 05:03 AM
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I doubt it. In 72, he would definitely make a difference, possibly giving the Canadians a convincing series win.
Even though he was one of the best ever and blew the competition away in pee-wee and junior hockey, I really can't see him making a difference on Team Canada as a 6-year-old in 1972.

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11-03-2012, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Czech Your Math View Post
Wouldn't playing in his first Olympics and trying to help Canada win its first gold medal in Olympic hockey in decades be enough incentive? I just tend to think that if he knew he could have, he would have, but that may be wrong. I'm sure he could have just practiced here and there until the Olympics... or even not and just rolled out of bed and headed for Japan... and still been about the best in the world, so it's obviously not an issue of ability.
I know this is extremely hard for most Europeans to understand but for most Canadian hockey fans the Canada Cup / World Cup prior to '98 was just a big a deal as the '98 Olympics. Since our best players were barred from the Olympics prior to '98 the tournament didn't have the prestige in Canada that it does now.

Mario had already turned down the chance to play for Canada in the '91 CC and '96 WCup so to think that the '98 OG factored into his decision to retire is not realistic. Thankfully he had a change of heart in 2002, but before that there was certainly a period when he was luke warm about international hockey. As far as I know he has never made any political statements about this but in general the relations between Quebec and Canada weren't great in the 90's, maybe this effected his desire to play for the national team???

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11-03-2012, 12:35 PM
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If he was there and Canada still lost, his fans would have used the injury excuse anyway as they always do.

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11-03-2012, 05:04 PM
  #21
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Mario played super in the 1985 World Championships and helped Canada upset USSR 3-1 in the semi-finals- the first time Canada beat the Soviets in the WC's since 1961. But even with Mario, Canada lost to the Czechs in the Gold Medal game and only won Silver. Mario then refused to play for Canada in the 1985,86, and 89 WC's. If he is playing does he help Canada win Gold?

Craig Wallace

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11-03-2012, 05:06 PM
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Big Phil
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If he was there and Canada still lost, his fans would have used the injury excuse anyway as they always do.
An injured Mario was still always the best player in the game, especially at that time. He was banged up in 2002 and we saw how important he was then. This is 6 years younger so I still don't see him being stopped.

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11-03-2012, 05:12 PM
  #23
TheDevilMadeMe
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The 1998 team was pretty poorly put together IMO and still almost won. If Mario helps them win, maybe Canada doesn't make adjustments and loses in 2002. It's not like 2002 was a blowout

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11-03-2012, 05:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheDevilMadeMe View Post
The 1998 team was pretty poorly put together IMO and still almost won. If Mario helps them win, maybe Canada doesn't make adjustments and loses in 2002. It's not like 2002 was a blowout
You might be right about that, very simple pattern here, they' stuck with management until they lost;
1996 Sather coach and GM, lost and never ran canada again
1998 Clarke as GM, crawford as coach. Lost and never ran canada again
2002 and 2004 Gretzky GM and Quinn coaching, neither ran canada again (elite level) 2006 that crew lost and none returned for 2010

If Clarke returns in 2002 it's almost guaranteed he wouldnt hire Quinn given their huge spat in the Lindros deal the year before. Also some argue the Gretzky rant was the turning poing. Not saying they couldn't have won without Quinn and/or Gretzky but we know they DID. It's also likely Lindros doesn't play in 2002 either due to Clarke leaving him off or him refusing to play for clarke.

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11-03-2012, 05:29 PM
  #25
Big Phil
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The 1998 team was pretty poorly put together IMO and still almost won. If Mario helps them win, maybe Canada doesn't make adjustments and loses in 2002. It's not like 2002 was a blowout
Hmmm. But 1998 was almost more a year in transition too. 2002 wasn't. In 1998 Gretzky was on the team and you could have easily put Messier there as well as Francis. In 2002 there were enough youngsters that broke out that wouldn't have been on 1998 anyway. Iginla, Gagne, Jovo, Brewer, etc. All were too young in 1998. Hard to say though. That's the butterfly effect, but I am just assuming Canada keeps the pedal to the metal if they win in 1996 and 1998 and still create the best team to win in 2002 on North American ice.

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