Rookie Card Year: 1985-86
Investment Rating: 6.5
Without question, Mario Lemieux is one of the greatest and most decorated players in hockey history. Had it not been for injuries and a bout with cancer, there would likely by more discussion over whether he was the greatest. The Penguins legend is also one of the most beloved players in NHL history, making Mario Lemieux cards and memorabilia extremely desirable on the secondary market.
Over 17 seasons, Lemieux racked up 690 goals and 1,723 total points. He won the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP three times and the Art Ross Trophy for getting the most points six times. In 1991, Lemieux led the Pittsburgh Penguins to their first Stanley Cup. The team repeated the following year.
Mid-way through 1992-93, Lemieux was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lynphoma, a form of cancer. He missed just two months while undergoing treatment. Nagging back injuries led Lemieux to retire following the 1997 playoffs. The Hall of Fame inducted him immediately, waiving the traditional three-year waiting period.
And that's exactly how long it took Lemieux to come back. After sitting out three full seasons, he came back in 2000 and played in parts of five more seasons. By this point he was also the owner of the Penguins. In his final year on the ice, Lemieux acted as a mentor for then rookie, Sidney Crosby. In 2009, Lemieux became a Stanley Cup winner once again, this time as an owner.
Besides his tremendous NHL play, Lemieux also made his mark on the international scene. Wearing the maple leaf, he helped Canada win both the 1987 Canada Cup and the 2002 Olympic Gold Medal.
When it comes to Mario Lemieux cards, he has just two rookies. Released in 1985-86, they are nearly identical and both command strong prices on the secondary market. Lemieux is one of those rare players where even his base cards are widely collected. Autographed Mario Lemieux cards are also highly collectible, regularly topping $100, often much more.
Signed Mario Lemieux memorabilia isn't too difficult to find, but it comes with a price. Signed jerseys and photos are the most popular items with collectors.
With his playing days behind him, the values of Mario Lemieux cards have likely settled. But while his legacy is firmly established in several areas, his importance to the Penguins could lead to future boosts. However, these are not likely to be too significant overall. Lemieux is one of those players who is safe to buy but don't expect much movement either way.
Mario Lemieux Rookie Card Checklist
The 1985-86 O-Pee-Chee Mario Lemieux is easily the more popular of his two rookie cards. Its presence on the checklist made the set one of the most iconic of the 1980s. While the front is identical to is Topps rookie, the back has the O-Pee-Chee logo and bilingual text. Expect to pay several hundred dollars for a top-condition card. Lemieux is also on a Rookie Scoring Leader card. Although not a rookie, it costs just a fraction of the price and might be a more affordable option for some just looking for an early Lemieux card.
Topps hockey has a bit of a stigma compared to its Canadian cousins. For bargain hunters, this might be a good thing as the 1985-86 Topps Mario Lemieux rookie card is about half the price as the O-Pee-Chee rookie. It looks nearly the same save for the all-English text on the back and a different logo.
Mario Lemieux Autographed Memorabilia Buying Guide
Below you will find an example of what Mario Lemieux's authentic signature looks like. This can be used as a first point of reference for determining the legitimacy of autograph memorabilia, but is not a substitute for having your items authenticated by a well-respected professional autograph authentication company.
Signed Puck Pricing:
Signed Jersey Pricing
Signed 8x10 Photo Pricing