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Penguins' star troubled by routine tasks

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.