Thursday, March 8, 2012

Ex-Islanders embarrassed in perpetuity


Is it just me, or was there a time not too long ago when the only living people with their own statues were narcissistic despots who commissioned sculptors under their rule to produce a suitably heroic likeness, and maybe - just maybe - they wouldn't be propped up in front of a firing squad?
Not that Hockey Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux isn't worthy of the statue unveiled in Pittsburgh yesterday, but wouldn't it be a bit creepy to walk past your own statue on your way to work every day? It's a sense of discomfort that Jean Beliveau and Guy Lafleur probably feel every time they walk past their own statues outside the Bell Center on the way to a Canadiens game. There's something to be said for being honoured in perpetuity, but it seems to me that immortalizing someone while they're still mortal is jumping the gun.
That's not even the most bizarre part of the Lemieux statue, which actually consists of three figures - the other two being Islanders defenceman Rich Pilon and Jeff Norton, whose hapless likenesses have just been turned inside out by Lemieux in a sculpted recreation of a photograph from 1988. Pilon says he's cool with the statue, but was it really necessary to honour Lemieux by presenting others in a less than flattering light?
Even if the Penguins couldn't wait until Lemieux was gone before casting him in bronze, they could have extended the courtesy to Pilon and Norton. Otherwise, it's a bit like the New York Mets commemorating the 1986 World Series by erecting a statue of Boston first baseman Bill Buckner booting Mookie Wilson's grounder in the bottom of the 9th.

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