Penguins' star troubled by routine tasks

Updated: December 15, 2003, 3:12 PM ET
Associated Press

PITTSBURGH -- Mario Lemieux's left hip is still ailing more than six weeks after his injury, and he has told the team he has trouble with such routine tasks as getting in and out of a car.

The Pittsburgh Penguins' player-owner has not been on skates since attempting to practice Nov. 10.

"He's still doing rehab and getting treatment along with the rehab," general manager Craig Patrick said. "But he still feels pain."

The Penguins have an NHL-worst 7-16-4-2 record and have won only four of the 19 games Lemieux has missed with a left hip flexor.

Lemieux, 38, missed three-fourths of the 2001-02 season with a right hip injury, but team officials have said the injuries aren't related. Lemieux has declined to discuss the latest injury, his rehabilitation or treatment.

"He's working on it and trying to get better and if you ask him about it, he says, `Yeah, I'm doing better,' but he's not the happiest of people," Patrick said.

Lemieux has not been evaluated by the training staff since Nov. 17 and the Penguins haven't updated his condition since late November.

Rookie coach Eddie Olczyk can't wait for the day when Lemieux is ready to play again.

"That's what we're waiting for, whether that's tomorrow or two weeks from now, we really don't know," Olczyk said Monday. "Until he tries it, until he says he's ready to try it, we just have to live with that."

Partly because of the injury and the effect his absence is having on slumping attendance, Lemieux decided this month not to accept the $5 million pay raise offered him by the board of directors. Lemieux was to have made a combined $10 million for playing and being the team's chief executive officer.

Despite missing nearly two-thirds of the season, Lemieux trails only Boston's Joe Thornton among Eastern Conference centers in fan balloting for the NHL all-star game. Lemieux, who has nine points on a goal and eight assists, scored in eight consecutive games just before getting hurt.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press