Lemieux worth a flyer

KEN WIEBE

, Last Updated: 7:27 AM ET

News of the Claude Lemieux comeback attempt has caught my attention.

At first blush, the thought of a man who hasn't played in the NHL since the 2002-03 season believing he still has something to give comes off as more than a bit obscure.

You might even call it ridiculous and we wouldn't blame you if you did.

It's easy to think that Lemieux, holder of four Stanley Cup rings with three different teams and notable playoff performer (his 80 playoff goals leave him ninth in NHL history), is completely (or at least somewhat) off his rocker.

For those of you who might not have heard, Lemieux has been training hard since June and is currently skating with the Arizona Sun Dogs of the Central Hockey League, seeking to land a contract that will bring him back to The Show.

So why would someone subject himself to the low minors in order to realize a dream he's already fulfilled?

This answer is easy and it's one that so many athletes who either retire or on the verge of retirement struggle mightily with.

Many elite athletes believe that if there is something left in the tank and if you believe there is still an opportunity to contribute at the highest level, one must act on that belief rather than sit idly by and look back years down the road and wonder what if?

Although their circumstances were much different, Darren McCarty was able to pull off the feat last season when he began his comeback with the Flint Generals of the International Hockey League, continue with the Grand Rapids Griffins and finally make it all the way back with the Detroit Red Wings.

EARNED RING

Not only did this comeback allow McCarty to get his life back together, he earned a Stanley Cup ring for his efforts.

Can Lemieux do something similar?

Only time will tell, but it's far too premature to rule it out completely.

Lemieux has said in interviews that he's hired a personal trainer and is in better shape than he's been since the 1990s.

Lemieux says there are several teams interested and the most natural fits seem to be the Montreal Canadiens and Phoenix Coyotes.

The Habs are on the list for nostalgic reasons, not to mention the fact they can always use more sandpaper and leadership as they try to capture a first Stanley Cup since 1993.

The Coyotes are doing what they can to get back into the playoffs and with a young team, perhaps Lemieux could be a guy who could help lead the way.

He's with the Sun Dogs now and hopes to find himself in the American Hockey League before long.It's possible he could make his way to the MTS Centre at some point.

If Lemieux signs with the Coyotes, their primary affiliate (the San Antonio Rampage) is in town Nov. 20 and 21 and who wouldn't want to see him line up opposite Manitoba Moose captain Mike Keane?

We most certainly do.

It seems unlikely that Lemieux can be a front-line player at the age of 43.

But can Lemieux make a contribution as a third-or-fourth line energy guy who can play a valuable role in helping a team to the playoffs or push a team over the top?

Don't be overly surprised if it happens.


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