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Penguins once again raise Lemieux banner

PITTSBURGH -- Mario Lemieux's No. 66 jersey banner was
raised again to the Mellon Arena ceiling Thursday, nine months
after the Hall of Fame center retired from the Pittsburgh Penguins
for the second time.

The banner recognizing Lemieux's career, unveiled after he
retired in 1997, was taken down after he came out of retirement in
2000. The new banner updates the length of Lemieux's career, which
began as the No. 1 pick in the 1984 draft.

The brief ceremony was held minutes before the Penguins' home
opener, and on the same day Lemieux's ownership group agreed to
sell the 39-year-old franchise to Canadian businessman Jim
Balsillie.

After a heart problem forced Lemieux to retire again in January,
he asked that the Penguins not hold an elaborate ceremony.
Thursday's banner raising lasted only a few minutes, with new
Penguins star Sidney Crosby promising during a message to the fans
that the team would try to play up to Lemieux's standards in every
game.

Crosby, in a taped message shown on the arena scoreboard, also
said he felt honored to have played part of his rookie season with
Lemieux. As he did last season, the 19-year-old Crosby is living in
Lemieux's house this season.

Lemieux, watching from a private box with his family, sat and
waved to the crowd. As the standing ovation grew louder, Lemieux
stood up, waved and smiled for about 30 seconds.