Pittsburgh Mario Lemieux, whose comeback has excited his sport as much as Michael Jordan's did for basketball, wants to be hockey's dominant player again.
"I'm not coming back to embarrass myself," Lemieux said Monday. "That's the last thing I would do. I wouldn't come back unless I thought I could play at a high level ... to try to regain the title of the best player in the world. It's something I have the desire and passion to do."
Lemieux said his unexpected comeback after a three-year layoff has nothing to do with enhancing the finances of the Pittsburgh Penguins franchise he now owns.
"The most important thing is I miss the game tremendously," he said.
He also predicted this comeback will go more smoothly than those he made in 1991 from back surgery, in 1993 from Hodgkin's disease and in 1995 from a year's layoff for health reasons.
"I feel that being 35 isn't too late and I have a lot of great hockey left in me," Lemieux said. "This comeback, I feel, will be the easiest because I've been resting and I'm healthy and I have a fresh start mentally and physically."