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HOCKEY STAR LEMIEUX WILL MISS THE ENTIRE SEASON

SHARE HOCKEY STAR LEMIEUX WILL MISS THE ENTIRE SEASON

Mario Lemieux made it official today, saying fatigue will sideline him for the entire 1994-95 season and there is no chance he will try to play even in the playoffs.

Lemieux confirmed what was first reported a month ago - that fatigue from two medical problems will force him to sit out the entire season.Doctors told him he has no recurrence of the Hodgkin's disease that was diagnosed in January 1993 or of the anemia he developed last season.

However, Lemieux still is bothered by fatigue - apparently the aftereffects from radiation treatment for the cancer and the cortisone shots he received last year for his back pain. He has had two back operations in the past four years.

"Right now, my health is a lot more important than hockey. I'm going to miss going to the rink every day. I'm going to miss being around the guys, because we have a good club here," Lemieux said.

His physicians tell Lemieux he has a good chance of returning eventually, but he said he will make a decision about the 1995-96 season a year from now, after a year mostly spent resting.

In the past month, Lemieux has undergone medical tests that determined his only problem is the persistent fatigue. Doctors said only rest will cure that, and that fatigue is common for up to two years after receiving radiation treatment.

He said he will return only if he can "play like Mario Lemieux can play," and that he would never return as a part-time player or as one who has been stripped of many of his skills.

"If I feel I'm not able to go out on the ice at close to 100 percent, another decision will have to be made," Lemieux said.

Neither Lemieux's agent, Tom Reich, or Penguins chairman Howard Baldwin would disclose the terms of Lemieux's contract for this season. However, Lemieux will receive his full salary under a $42 million contract he signed two years ago with the Penguins. The money apparently will come from the Penguins' insurer.

Baldwin also said any season-ticket holders who want their money back because Lemieux won't play will get a full refund.

"But I can't see many of them wanting to jump off the bandwagon," Baldwin said.