Claude Lemieux returns to NHL with Sharks

The San Jose Sharks announced Monday that they've recalled 43-year-old Claude Lemieux from the team's AHL affiliate in Worcester, bringing the former Conn Smythe Trophy winner back to the NHL after a 5½-year absence.

Buckingham, Que., native had 785 points over 21 NHL seasons, including with Montreal

Claude Lemieux has made it back to the NHL.

The San Jose Sharks announced Monday that they've called up the 43-year-old former Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the team's AHL affiliate in Worcester, ending his 5½-year absence from the NHL.

The Sharks also said they've reassigned forwards Brad Staubitz and Tom Cavanagh to Worcester, and placed defenceman Brad Lukowich on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 6.

Lemieux last appeared in the NHL in 2002-03 with the Dallas Stars, the fifth stop of an NHL career that began in 1983-84 with the Montreal Canadiens.

The erstwhile super-pest came out of retirement to take another shot at the NHL and was signed to a tryout deal by the Worcester Sharks in December.

Shortly after, San Jose inked him to a two-way contract. Such a deal allows a club to move a player to an AHL affiliate, where the player makes a different salary than with the NHL club.

In 23 games this season with Worcester, Lemieux tallied 11 points (3 goals), 24 penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.

The Buckingham, Que., native amassed 785 points (379 goals) with 1,756 penalty minutes in 1,197 games over 21 NHL seasons with Montreal, the New Jersey Devils, the Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars.

Lemieux, a longtime friend of Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, won Stanley Cups with Montreal (1986), New Jersey (1995, 2000) and Colorado (1996). He captured the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP in 1995, when he racked up 13 goals in 20 playoff games for the Devils.

Apart from his reputation as someone who stepped up his game in the post-season, Lemieux was perhaps best known for his ability to get under the skin of opponents, some of whom accused him of dirty play.

In the 1996 Western Conference final between Colorado and the Detroit Red Wings, Lemieux checked Detroit forward Kris Draper from behind into the boards. The infamous hit left Draper with a broken jaw, nose and cheekbone and helped ignite a heated rivalry between the Avalanche and Red Wings.