September 24, 2008
The Two-Line Pass sent over this headline last night from French language sports news outlet RDS: "Claude Lemieux tente un retour." And while we're not exactly Babel Fish over here, I believe the loose translation is, "Claude Lemieux is coming back to the NHL to own all your asses and win another Conn Smythe."
Clearly risking my relationship with the Detroit Red Wings fans who read the blog, I will admit to being a Claude Lemieux fanboy.
His was the first personalized jersey I ever owned (with fighting strap!), and he taught me a valuable life lesson during his time with the New Jersey Devils: Sometimes, you just have to judge a person on the quality of his work rather than the content of his character. Because he still ranks somewhere between Karl Rove and Chad Ocho Cinco on the likability scale.
The Two-Line Pass provided a loose translation of the article, with this Pepe quote: "Most people will think I'm crazy, but I miss being with the players and the feeling of being on the rink. We only have one life and if we feel something in our heart or in our head, we have to go for it."
Pointing to his less-than-fit appearance on "Pros vs. Joes," The Two-Line Pass sounds less than convinced that Lemieux can make it back at 43 years old:
Yes Claude, I think you're crazy. A full 10 weeks of training, even if it's with the Coyotes, won't prepare a 40-plus guy that hasn't played professional hockey since 2003-04 (in Switzerland, mind you) for the NHL or even the AHL. This is a terribly misguided thing to do, no matter how much you miss the sport.
But what about how much some of us miss Claude Lemieux? Don't you want to see him rock the ‘22' in a Colorado Avalanche jersey as part of Operation: Nostalgia? His first game back against the Red Wings would score bigger ratings than the Winter Classic. (OK, maybe the All-Star skills competition.) You think McCarty might be in the lineup that night?
What about a line of Steve Ott-Sean Avery-Claude Lemieux on the Dallas Stars? I once had a dream where Claude signed with the Boston Bruins, wore Cam Neely's number and skated with the name Sea Bass on his jersey, as the ultimate kiss off.
In the end, John from In Lou We Trust has it right: Claude could make millions as a "School for Scoundrels" assistant coach, teaching newbies like Devils forward David Clarkson the ways of the pest. But if he's serious about making a comeback, then work out for the next several months and hook on to a playoff team. Because even a 43-year-old Claude Lemieux is still Claude Lemieux in the postseason.