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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Mario Lemieux's Son, Austin, is Carving His Own Path with the Penguins

07/05/2017, 3:45pm EDT
By JASON MACKEY

 

Austin Lemieux can’t score a goal and look up at the scoreboard at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex without a reminder of the unfair expectations placed upon him at an early age because of his last name.

 

Mario’s kid? Oh, man. How many hundreds of goals do you plan on scoring?

 

But if Austin Lemieux has felt burdened by sporting a surname that’s synonymous with scoring, he’s not letting on.

 

The 6-foot-3, 170-pound right wing has done plenty of work carving his own path, one that will take him to Arizona State for his freshman year of college this fall.

 

 

“I don’t really think of it that much,” Lemieux said of the pressure he faces being Mario’s son. “I try to do my own thing and see where that takes me. I have all the resources I need here. I try and get the most out of it right away.”

 

That third sentence was especially telling.

 

As Lemieux mentioned having all the resources he would need — Friday following development camp — he name-checked the Penguins practice facility.

 

Only Austin omitted his last name, referring to the building solely as the UPMC Sports Complex.

 

Seems the humility and the love of hockey both found a way to translate, and the latter took a significant step forward this season.

 

After scoring six goals and producing 14 points in 57 USHL games, Lemieux played in the USPHL’s Premier division with the Islanders Hockey Club out of Tyngsborough, Mass.

 

That resulted in Lemieux scoring 20 goals and totaling 74 points in 12 fewer games, a 60-point improvement.

 

 

The competition likely contributed some to the offensive uptick, but Lemieux has also been noticeably more comfortable this week, standing out because of his skating and stickhandling as opposed to the name on the back of his sweater.

 

Talk to him, and the maturation isn’t hard to detect.

 

“I’m in my second time around here,” Lemieux said. “It’s a little more comfortable. Just trying to get out there and see what I have to do to develop. It’s great to be with those guys out there. I’m really learning a lot.”

 

And he’d like to learn more.

 

Actually gain more, as in weight.

 

That remains one puzzle Austin hasn’t solved: how to fill out his 6-3 figure. Lemieux has packed on a few pounds, but there’s plenty of room to grow. In this case, literally.

 

“I try and do that every day,” Lemieux said of the idea of gaining weight. “Working out so much, you have to put more calories in your body. It’s tough to do. It’s going to come along.”

 

There’s a good chance college can help that out.

 

It will also help for Lemieux to sink his teeth into something new; Arizona State is an up-and-coming program, and Lemieux figures to be one of its building blocks.

 

Even his dad’s shadow can’t extend that far.

 

“We should be good in the next few years here,” Lemieux said. “I’m excited to get out there and try to help the team out as best I can.”

 

If Lemieux does, it likely will be, at least in part, because of tips and tidbits he’s picked up here this week.

 

Instead of acting like his name’s on the building — even though it is — Lemieux has put his head down and went to work.

 

On his skating. On his stickhandling. And listening to instruction.

 

Lemieux knows there’s plenty more to do, too.

 

“The game every year gets faster,” Lemieux said. “I have to get stronger. I need to get stronger with my legs. It’s going to help me in the long run.”

 

Taylor leaves for Buffalo

 

Jason Botterill, Randy Sexton … now, Chris Taylor.

 

The Penguins lost another member of their organization to the Buffalo Sabres. This time, it was Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant Chris Taylor, who left to become the head coach of the Rochester Americans.

 

Taylor had spent the previous four seasons with Rochester when the Penguins hired him last August.

 

J.D. Forrest will remain as Clark Donatelli’s lone assistant.

 

Jason Mackey: jmackey@post-gazette.com and Twitter @JMackeyPG.

Tag(s): News  NCDC  Islanders Hockey Club