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My “Encounter” With Mario Lemieux



Sorry on the late post today folks.  The good news is, my latest column is up on The Hockey News, about “the numbers game”, and how trying to figure it out in the off-season makes you crazy.


Friend of the blog Hooks Orpik was headed out to meet Mario Lemieux the other day, so I wanted to tell my Lemieux story, but um, twitter only tolerates 140 characters.  So…. here. we. go.

Le Mieux, indeed.

Mario attends the Clark Gillies Charity Classic, which if we’re being honest, is a yearly golf tournament in which everyone gets “tipsy”, then gives fistfuls of money to sick and dying kids.  The program is this:  it’s an absolute blast, then Clark cries (and means it), then there’s an auction, then it’s a blast again.  Essentially, you can re-create the experience if you just drink a bunch of red wine and send the foundation a blank cheque.  (

Well, as you probably know, Mr. Lemieux has a bit of an aura about him.  And, I was never a crazy hockey fanboy or anything (cough*Sean Leahy*cough), but 66 was my favourite player, so that kind of adds to it.  (Honorable mention to Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman.)

So, he had won the long drive contest at Clark’s event for three or four years running.  This particular year, our group was the last one through the LD hole (and had consumed a few barleyhops sandwiches by then), so I teed one up high, took a Jason Zuback swing at it, and caught it on the screws – it passed the marker by a few feet.  Which, yet again, had Lemieux’s name on it.

Now, to back up a little bit, it’s like $1500 a group (or maybe a guy? I think per guy, yeah) to enter the tourney.  I was dating Bri and the time, and had promised to hang out with her and watch a par three for an ace or whatever it was volunteers did to help the charity then.  But when there was a spot open…. why, yes, I do have a collared shirt, golf shoes, socks, clubs, balls, tees and an interest in playing.

So, Freebie Mooch Bourne was hesitant to write his name on the long drive marker.  My drunken group however, thought it was an awesome idea.

Lottttta leverage when you're 6'6"

Sooo, when they announced the winner of the long drive contest, and most people had seen Mario’s name on the marker while golfing, they started to clap during the introduction.  Before even hearing the name. 

Well, my name killed the buzz, and quick.  I awkwardly sauntered up to the podium, took the driver I won, and sat down.  I then immediately saw said driver get re-shafted and put in Clark Gilles golf bag.  But hey, he more-than-deserves it for all he’s done for me. 

….Back on track here….

Mario was waiting at the bar for a drink, so I decided to go say hello since I finally had a good topic to BS on at that point.  I stood beside him while he talked to someone else, and I ordered a drink.  As I did, I turned to talk to Bri (or whoever it was) and planned my intro.  Always good to incorporate Dad in there at these things, I figured.  “Hey, I’m Justin Bourne, you played against my Dad in blah blah blah.”  Yep, that was it.

I turned back around to go for it and *poof*  ninja dust, he’s gone. 

Not even just like, walking away, but he Houdini’d his way right out of the building somehow.  To this day, I have no idea what his escape route was.  He had gone home for the night, and that was the last time I saw him (I missed Clark’s event this year with brokebloggeritis). 

Still never met the guy.  Eff me.


11 Responses to “My “Encounter” With Mario Lemieux”
  1. Kennedy says:

    Maybe he really wanted that putter…

  2. Kennedy says:

    Or driver…yeah, I read it.

  3. HockeyPhool says:

    Cool story, Justin!

    I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the good work!


  4. Sherry says:

    Nice work on the THN piece Justin – way to start the season (and yes, the wait is killing me too)!

    Ouch on that Mario story – that would eat at me forever. I can’t believe you never had a chance to meet him again given the circles you travel(ed) in (your own and incl dad and soon to be father-in-law). Here’s hoping another opportunity presents itself sometime (and btw how was Hooks getting to meet him?).

  5. Neil says:

    Maybe he was lying flat on the floor and didn’t move until you left?

  6. SDC says:

    haha, fantastic. Serves you right for embarassing him. Between Lemieux dusting you, and Gretzky sidestepping me ( ) , we sure have a way of making our heroes initiate their avoidance techniques.

    Maybe Mario’s actually really bad at golf, but all this time he’s had a staff like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland that make sure his ball lands in an impressive locale while he’s still spinning into the ground like an auger after an errant tee-up. Hustling golf charity classics; touted as an LD champion because everyone’s afraid to lose their head if they tell him how far his ball really went. Maybe you just gave him the shot of reality he needed. Or maybe you just robbed a whole bunch of sick and dying kids of money needed to help them recover because you needed to show-off. Way to go Bourne, waaaaaay to go :)

  7. paul says:

    Met Mario at LAX after the ’02 NHL All Star game.

    I’m standing on line its about 5 or so deep being held up by a couple who are trying to figure out how to pay for a pack of gum, they decide they need to pay by credit card which is tucked away in their carry on. We’ve all been in some scenario, but I’d been paying so close attention to tweedle dee and dum I failed to notice the behemoth of a God who now stood behind me.

    Then I hear, “You’ve gotta be f*cking kidding me.” muddled under the breath of the guy behind me. Except I recognize that voice, that slight bit of french-Canadian accent crossed with Hockey player. I turn around and proceed to llok up at this guys chest, then look up a little bit more and realize its Super Mario.

    I give a chuckle to Mario’s comment and proceed to tell him I was at All-Star game the day prior, said he had a nice goal, and it was fun to watch. I don’t really recall what else we said but we chit chatted until I paid for my stuff, I wished him good luck the rest of the year and I headed toward my gate thinking damn he was good guy, shoulda asked for an autograph or something.

    the part where I get to my gate and predict Robbie Ftorek getting fired by the bruins is a story for another day…

  8. rouven from germany says:

    *lol* justin, you should post your lemieux-story on pd – exactly the right thing for all those “stop writing and play with your daddy’s rings, bourne”-guys, eh?

    oh, and you should write more for thn. that improves the quality and depth of the page in a huge way ;)

  9. Ballgame says:

    I like these stories. Love the Guerin story too.

  10. Patrick Pryor says:

    I recall with great fondness, a time when I was (trying) to sell Mark Messier a Mercedes Benz, I asked him whey he wanted such a big Merc? was the C on his sweater for Chauffer? The stare, and long silence painted a picture of pure and utter terror on my boss’ face that I still have a chuckle 14 years later. The boss didnt know that I had been to the practice rink the day before and joined some other guys shooting rocks at Gretzky’s Cadillac loaner in the parking lot, while he was laughing as he drove off.

  11. I also had a chance to (and DID) meet Mr. Lemieux at a ’2005 Summer Sticks’ golf outing, just on the outskirts of Pittsburgh at the Pittsburgh Field Club.

    My buddy’s dad bought a foursome and ALL of the people backed out so me, said friend and two of his dad’s assosciates (friends) teed it up. We got paired with Andy Chiodo but were one group behind Lemieux. The whole thing was surreal. It was Crosby’s rookie season, seeing everyone there, Fleury, Lemieux, etc.. Just amazing.

    So the best/worst part of the story was after dinner and the awards my buddy and I mustered up the cajones to approach Lemieux (who was with Crosby) at the time and ask to get out pictures taken. One of the other guys in our foursome proceeds to snap a picture with us. After the ‘thank you so much/have a great season yadda yadda yaddas’ we walked away only to find out that apparently this guy NEVER used a digital camera before. NOTHING.

    We were able to track down Crosby and Lemieux (separately albiet) and get a picture with them…having to explain that we weren’t stalking them and what happened.

    Good times!

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