Five years out of NHL, C. Lemieux wants back in the game

Updated: November 25, 2008, 9:05 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Claude Lemieux has signed with the San Jose Sharks's AHL affiliate in hopes of returning to the NHL after a five-year absence.

The 43-year-old Lemieux is expected to report to the Sharks' AHL affiliate in Worcester this week, San Jose spokesman Scott Emmert said Monday.

Lemieux won four Stanley Cup titles during 18 NHL seasons with five clubs while earning a reputation as one of hockey's top agitators. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL's playoff MVP in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, and he also won championships with Montreal (1986) and Colorado (1996) before adding a fourth ring back with New Jersey in 2000.

"Claude called and inquired about resuming his hockey career, and we have given him an opportunity to pursue it with Worcester," said Wayne Thomas, the Worcester Sharks' general manager and San Jose's assistant GM. "He is here to help this team win games."

His 80 career playoff goals are ninth in league history, but Lemieux hasn't played in the NHL since the 2002-03 season, which he spent with Phoenix and Dallas. Earlier this year, Lemieux played a two-game stint with the China Sharks, San Jose's affiliate in Shanghai, while gauging his ability to make a full comeback.

Lemieux is a longtime friend of Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who has taken a chance on veteran players before. Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh played 38 games with San Jose last season after few clubs were interested in the 35-year-old former All-Star.

"I would like to thank Wayne Thomas and the Worcester Sharks for the opportunity to show I can still play this game at a high level," Lemieux said. "I look forward to meeting my new teammates and helping Worcester on the ice."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.