Pittsburgh Penguins owner-player Mario Lemieux was hospitalized yesterday for observation of an irregular heartbeat, General Manager Craig Patrick said.

Lemieux will be monitored overnight in the undisclosed hospital and won't play tomorrow night against the Minnesota Wild. The team said his playing status will be day to day after that.

According to Patrick, Lemieux reported having an irregular heartbeat after practice.

"We thought the best precaution was to have him enter the hospital for observation," Patrick said.

The 40-year-old Lemieux recently missed two games because of what the team described as the stomach flu, but it was not immediately known if an illness that he said lingered for days was related to his latest problem.

The Hall of Fame center has had numerous medical problems during a career that began in 1984, including a bout with Hodgkin's disease in 1993 that was partly responsible for him sitting out the 1994-95 season.

Lemieux also has been sidelined for long periods with back and hip problems, and he missed more than half of the Penguins' 1990-91 Stanley Cup championship season with severe lower back pain. After retiring for 31/2 years, he returned in December 2000 and has played since, but missed large portions of the 2001-02 and 2003-04 seasons with hip injuries.

Lemieux, seventh on the all-time scoring list with 1,722 points, had seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 25 games this season, and recently had a four-game streak without a point that was the longest of his career.

-- From News Services