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Lemieux to retire again


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Jan. 24, 2006, 10:29 AM ET

Report: Lemieux to announce retirementESPN.com news services

Mario Lemieux will announce his retirement Tuesday at an afternoon news conference, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The 40-year-old Lemieux hasn't played for the Penguins since Dec. 16 because of problems with an irregular heartbeat. He was hospitalized Dec. 7 and diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a fluttering of the heartbeat that was causing his heart to dramatically speed up at times.

Lemieux retired in 1997 after years of back pain, a rare bone infection and a bout with cancer, but he came out of retirement five years ago.

He has not yet played a full, injury-free season since returning, missing most of two seasons with hip problems and another full season when the NHL shut down last year as owners and players negotiated a labor agreement.

Despite myriad problems, Lemieux had seven goals and 15 assists for 22 points in 26 games this season. He is seventh on the NHL's career scoring list with 1,723 points and led the league in scoring six times (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996 and 1997).

He played on Penguins teams that won Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Among his many awards are the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie in 1985 and the Hart Trophy, given to the player judged most valuable to his team, in 1988, 1993 and 1996.

The team has scheduled a 2 p.m. ET news conference.

The franchise is expected to lose $7 million this season and there are questions about its future in Pittsburgh. Since he bought the team in 1999, Lemieux has been unable to reach an agreement to build an arena to replace 44-year-old Mellon Arena, the oldest and smallest in the NHL. He said last week the team might be sold.

"We've had quite a few inquiries over the last few months," Lemieux said. "I think the timing was right to look at them and explore them and see what our options are. ... We've laid the foundation for the future and hopefully in a way that they'll stay here forever."

The team filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1998, after running up $120 million in debt under former owners Howard Baldwin and Roger Marino. Lemieux's group bought the team out of bankruptcy and he further boosted its fortunes by ending his 44-month

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