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Mark John Douglas Messier (born January 18, 1961) is a retired Canadianmarker professional ice hockey centre of the National Hockey League and current special assistant to the president and general manager of the New York Rangers. He spent a quarter of a century in the NHL (19792004) with the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, and Vancouver Canucks. He also played professionally with the World Hockey Association (WHA)'s Indianapolis Racers and Cincinnati Stingers. He was the last former WHA player to be active in professional hockey, and the last active player who had played in the NHL in the 1970s.

Messier is widely considered among the best NHL players of all time as well as among the greatest leaders in the game's history. He is second on the all-time career lists for regular season points (1887), playoff points (295) and regular season games played (1756). He won six Stanley Cups, five with the Oilers and one with the Rangers, and is the only professional athlete to captain two different teams to championships. Due to his size and strength, he was nicknamed "The Moose". In 2007, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Famemarker, in his first year of eligibility.

Playing career

1978–79: Early years

Mark Messier played Tier II in the Alberta Junior Hockey League with the St. Albert Saints. In 54 games, Messier had 74 points and 194 penalty minutes. Messier also played a few games with the Portland Winter Hawks. Mark’s father Doug once played junior hockey with Pat Stapleton, the coach of the Indianapolis Racers. Doug called him and got Messier a contract to play hockey in Indianapolis for $30,000. Messier signed the 5-game tryout contract at the age of 17. He failed to register a point and was released just before the Racers folded.

Shortly after being released by Indianapolis, Messier was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Stingers. While with the Cincinnati Stingers, Messier was on a line with Robbie Ftorek. Ftorek was one of the top scorers in the league but Messier managed to get only two goals. He would play 47 games for the Stingers tallying only one goal and ten assists. While in Cincinnati, Messier was teammates with Mike Gartner, Barry Melrose and Paul Stewart. When he retired, Messier was the last former WHA player still active on the ice as a player.

1979–91: Edmonton Oilers

Messier was drafted in the 3rd round, 48th overall, by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft. Messier was renowned as a fierce, tough competitor whose intense leadership in the locker room was as important as the goals he scored on the ice. He wasn't initially known as a scorer, but his offensive numbers increased steadily over his first few years with the Oilers. In 1981–82, he registered his only 50-goal season. For most of his tenure with the Oilers, he played on a line with Glenn Anderson.

Initially a left winger (he was named to the NHL First All-Star Team in 1982–83 on left wing), Messier switched to centre in the 1984 playoffs, and the results were spectacular. In Game 3 of the 1984 Finals, for example, with his Oilers trailing the four-time defending champion New York Islanders by a goal, it was Messier's goal on a brilliant end-to-end rush that sparked a comeback by the Oilers. By the end of the series, Messier had earned the Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to the most valuable player of the playoffs.

In 1984, Messier was suspended for 10 games for cracking Jamie Macoun's cheekbone in a fight during a game against the Calgary Flames on December 26. Messier was retaliating for having been boarded by Macoun earlier in the game, but the NHL ruled that he had instigated the fight.

He won four more Cups with the Oilers, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1990, the last which he captained the Oilers to a five-game victory over the Boston Bruins. Though the Oilers had been a 1980s powerhouse, the 1990 victory, which came two years after Wayne Gretzky was traded away, surprised many. Messier also won the Hart Trophy as league MVP that season, edging out the Bruins' Ray Bourque by just two votes, the narrowest margin in the award's history.

On October 4, 1991, in one of many cost-cutting moves by Edmonton management that ended their dynasty, Messier was traded to the New York Rangers. He was traded for Louie DeBrusk, Bernie Nicholls, and Steven Rice.

1991–97: New York Rangers

In his first season with the Rangers, Messier won his second Hart Trophy and guided the Rangers to the best record in the NHL. However, they were ousted in six games in the second round by the eventual champions Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Mario Lemieux.

In 1992-93, the Rangers missed the playoffs due to numerous injuries among key players. After the season, Mike Keenan was hired as head coach.

In the 1993–94 NHL season, the Rangers rebounded to once again finish first overall, and this time were expected to win the Cup.

Down 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the rival New Jersey Devils, Messier confronted the New York media and publicly guaranteed a Game 6 victory. With fans and players on both sides reading the news headline, it then became a feat comparable to Babe Ruth's called shot and Joe Namath's Super Bowl III guarantee, and backed it up by scoring a natural hat trick in the third period on an empty net goal with ESPN commentator Gary Thorne boasting, "Do you believe it! Do you believe it! He said we will win game six and he has just picked up the hat trick!" It helped the Rangers erase a two-goal deficit. The Rangers went on to win the series in a thrilling seventh game double overtime nail biter.

Then, in the Stanley Cup Finals, Messier scored the Cup winning goal in Game 7 at Madison Square Garden, giving the Rangers their first Stanley Cup in 54 years. He then provided two of the most memorable images of that Stanley Cup Finals when the buzzer sounded he was jumping up and down with overwhelming emotion as ticker tape fell; fireworks bursted and fans and teammates celebrated. Another which would become an iconic image to the Rangers and their fans, taken by George Kalinsky, photographer at Madison Square Gardenmarker, showing incredible emotion as he accepted the Stanley Cup from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Finally, during the ticker-tape parade celebrating the Rangers' win, Rudy Giuliani, witnessing his first New York sports team championship victory just five months after becoming mayor, dubbed Messier "Mr. June," conjuring Reggie Jackson's "Mr. October" nickname. Messier became one of the most popular and beloved sports icons in New York City sports history. as he became the first (and to this date, the only) player to captain two different teams to the Stanely Cup, as ex-Oiler teammate Wayne Gretzky and his Los Angeles Kings lost to the Montreal Canadiens the year before.

In 1995–96, Messier came as close as he had since 1991–92 to breaking the 100-point plateau when, at the age of 35, he recorded a 99-point season. In 1996–97, former Oilers teammate Wayne Gretzky joined the Rangers, while Messier retained the captaincy and had a respectable 84-point regular season. The two led the team to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in five games, as the Rangers could not match the size and strength of Eric Lindros and his "Legion of Doom" linemates. Messier left the club at the conclusion of the season (see below), ending the brief reunion of Messier and Gretzky being together again on the same team after just one season. It would also turn out to be both players' final playoff appearances.

Messier had wanted to finish his career with the Rangers, but Dave Checketts, the president of Madison Square Gardenmarker, said the team did not think Messier was worth $20 million USD for the next three years, though Messier maintained that he would have signed a one-year contract extension for under $6 million a season. Although public sentiment sided with Messier, as he led the team to two first-place regular season finishes and the Stanley Cup, General Manager Neil Smith figured out that he had Gretzky and Pat LaFontaine as top centermen, and he came close to signing Joe Sakic from the Colorado Avalanche At 36 years old, Messier signed with the Vancouver Canucks to a high-priced free agent contract, where he would be reunited with Mike Keenan, who was the Rangers' head coach in 1994, who would be hired as the Canucks' general manager and head coach early in the 1997-98 season.

1997–2000: Vancouver Canucks

It was an emotional and high-profile move, with Messier returning to Canada after six years with the Rangers, but the honeymoon did not last. Before the season started, popular captain Trevor Linden relinquished the "C" to Messier, a move that did not go well with Canuck supporters as Linden was a fan favorite. According to some accounts, Linden willingly handed over the "C" out of respect to Messier but later regretted it and described Messier's invasion of the dressing room as hostile. Shortly after Messier's acquisition, Linden was traded by Mike Keenan to the New York Islanders, where he became their captain, replacing Bryan McCabe, whom Linden was traded for along with Todd Bertuzzi. Messier's demand to receive the number #11, which he had worn throughout his career with the Oilers and Rangers, but which the Canucks had unofficially retired after Wayne Maki's unexpected death in 1974, hurt his image as well.

In Messier's first game back on Broadway, MSGmarker provided a video for him which was displayed on the big screen at the Garden. It was very emotional as some fans as well as Messier himself shedding tears. He went on to score a goal in that game against his former team where he received applause after doing so even though he wore a different uniform. One fan even displayed a sign which read "You will always be our captain Mess".

Sixty points in 1997–98 was his worst mark in a full year since his first NHL season; his next two seasons were shortened by injury and finished with 158 points over three years, considered below expectations compared to other star centermen earning around $6 million US a season, like Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic. Keenan was fired from his post as Canucks' manager and coach midway in the 1998–99 season, as the club missed the playoffs during Messier's three years. The team made no attempt to resign Messier, whom Canucks fans never warmed to, and he became a free agent after the 1999–2000 season

2000–04: Back on Broadway

After his tenure with the Canucks, he returned to New York to try to lead the Rangers back to glory. The Rangers held a press conference where they symbolically buried a hatchet, and Messier made an ill-fated "guarantee" of a playoff berth. Messier was also given back the team captaincy upon his return to the Rangers, handed over to him personally by Brian Leetch.

Messier's 67-point season as a 40-year old in 2000–01 was a mark better than any he established in his Vancouver years, showing that he could still be a valuable presence, but the Rangers missed the playoffs for the fourth year running. After missing half of 2001–02 due to an arm injury, Messier recorded only 23 points, and finished up next year with a 40-point campaign.

The 2003–04 season had been widely expected to be Messier's last. On November 4, 2003, against the Dallas Stars, Messier scored a pair of goals to vault past Gordie Howe into second on the all-time point scoring list. Eleven days later, Messier was the only active player to play in the legends game at Edmonton's Heritage Classic, suiting up with the Oiler alumni and making many light-hearted comments about being Edmonton's "ringer." During his last game at Madison Square Gardenmarker, Messier received applause every time he touched the puck and, after the game, received a standing ovation while he skated around the Garden and bowed to every section of the stands. At the age of 43, most media outlets believed Messier had decided to quit. The NHL lockout eliminated the next season. All speculation ended on September 12, 2005, when he announced his retirement on ESPN radio.

2005 and beyond: post retirement

Messier retired eleven games behind Howe's NHL record 1,767 regular season games played. Messier holds the record for most NHL regular season and playoff season games played at 1,992. Messier is one of a handful of players to have played 25 NHL seasons, doing so over four decades.

On January 12, 2006, during a very emotional ceremony that featured most of the 1994 Stanley Cup team and the Stanley Cup itself, the New York Rangers retired his number 11 in a game against the Edmonton Oilers. Fans unable to attend the game put their tickets back on the market, with front row seats being resold up to the price of $30,000. During the game, the Rangers defeated the Oilers. [51855] His is the 4th number retired by the Rangers. His number was retired by the Edmonton Oilers on February 27, 2007, against the Phoenix Coyotes, coached by former teammate Wayne Gretzky.

In February 2007, Messier publicly expressed interest in returning to the NHL as General Manager for the Rangers; however, current GM Glen Sather responded by saying he has no plans of stepping down from his position. With the departure of Assistant GM Don Maloney from the Rangers organization in May 2007, Messier's name had been attached to possible replacements; however, in July 2007, Jim Schoenfeld was announced as Maloney's replacement. Eventually, Messier would return to the NHL and to the Rangers, Sather named him special assistant to president and general manager on August 16, 2009.

Off the ice

Messier attended St. Francis Xavier high school in Edmonton as he played junior hockey where his father Doug was his coach and mentor for his early years, where he played with the Spruce Grove Mets. Mark's brother Paul Messierwas drafted by the Colorado Rockies41st overall in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft, but he only played nine games with the club in 1978–79 before embarking on a long career in the German Bundesliga. His cousins Mitchand Jobyalso skated for NHL clubs. Joby was even briefly Mark's teammate on the Rangers. One of his cousins, Brian, is keeping up the family hockey tradition in Texas, playing with the Ice Hawks.

Messier's son Lyon, who was born on August 16, 1987, is developing into a solid young hockey player and is currently a defenceman for the South Carolina Stingrays of the East Coast Hockey League. Lyon's mother is former model Lesley Young. His current girlfriend and soon to-be wife, Kim Clark, gave birth to Mark's second son, Douglas Paul, on July 15, 2003, and daughter Jacqueline Jean in August 2005.

After his retirement, Messier appeared in a Versus television special in the United Statesmarker highlighting his "Mark Messier Leadership Camp", which allowed New Yorkers to mix seminars in leadership and working with others with hockey games against former Rangers, including a scrimmage on the Garden ice.

Messier was featured in a Lay's chips campaign that aired in Canada in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The commercials originally featured Messier being challenged to a bet by a local hockey fan, who bets that Messier cannot eat just one potato chip, in reference to the Lay's slogan "bet you can't eat just one." Messier loses the bet, and ends up playing in a local 'beer league' hockey game, which he easily dominates. Later variations would have Messier himself making the same bet. He was also featured in Lay's ads in America where he asked neighbors to borrow ice or a hairdryer (playing on his bald head) to get chips.

Almost thirty years after having played with the Saints, Messier is a legend in the Edmonton suburb of St. Albert, Albertamarker.One of the rinks in the local Campbell Arena bears Messier's name.

More recently, Messier has found time to do some work as a hockey analyst. He's occasionally seen on NHL on Versusas a studio analyst, was an in-game analyst for The NHL All-Star Game on Versus, and has been a guest commentator on NHL on NBC.

In Edmonton, a section of St. Albert Trail between St. Albert and the City of Edmonton, has been renamed to Mark Messier Trail as of February 26, 2007.

On November 12, 2007, Messier was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the players category.

Messier is an advocate for preventative healthcare and spokesperson for Cold-fX. He is also involved in many philanthropic causes, most recently The New York Police and Fire Widows' and Children's Benefit Fund, for which he serves on the Board.

Messier has also become a hotelier, owning the small, yet popular, Runaway Hill Club on the famous pink sand beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas. He also regularly fishes for marlin on his boat 'Wani Kanati'.

Mark Messier is part of "Team Up and Bring Home the Cup," a contest developed by Pepsi, Lay'sand Gatorade. Canada's most die hard hockey fans can participate for a chance to have a party with their team in their hometown attended by Mark Messier and the Stanley Cup.

Awards and achievements



Transactions

  • August 9, 1979- Edmonton Oilers' third round choice, 48th overall in the 1979 NHL Entry Draft
  • October 4, 1991- Traded by the Edmonton Oilers, along with future considerations, to the New York Rangers in exchange for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice and Louie DeBrusk.
  • July 28, 1997- Signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks.
  • July 13, 2000- Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
  • June 20, 2003- Traded by the New York Rangers to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for San Jose's 2004's 4th round draft choice.
  • September 5, 2003- Signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers.
  • September 12, 2005- Officially announced retirement.
  • November 12, 2007- Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Famemarker with Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Scott Stevens and Jim Gregory.


Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1975–76 Sherwood Spears AMHL 44 82 76 158 38
1976–77 Spruce Grove Mets AJHL 57 27 39 66 91
1977–78 St. Albert Saints AJHL 54 25 49 74 194
1977–78 Portland Winter Hawks WCHL 7 4 1 5 2
1978–79 St. Albert Saints AJHL 17 15 18 33 64
1978–79 Indianapolis Racers WHA 5 0 0 0 0
1978–79 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 47 1 10 11 58
1979–80 Houston Apollos CHL 4 0 3 3 4
1979–80 Edmonton Oilers NHL 75 12 21 33 120 3 1 2 3 2
1980–81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 23 40 63 102 9 2 5 7 13
1981–82 Edmonton Oilers NHL 78 50 38 88 119 5 1 2 3 8
1982–83 Edmonton Oilers NHL 77 48 58 106 72 15 15 6 21 14
1983–84 Edmonton Oilers NHL 73 37 64 101 165 19 8 18 26 19
1984–85 Edmonton Oilers NHL 55 23 31 54 57 18 12 13 25 12
1985–86 Edmonton Oilers NHL 63 35 49 84 68 10 4 6 10 18
1986–87 Edmonton Oilers NHL 77 37 70 107 73 21 12 16 28 16
1987–88 Edmonton Oilers NHL 77 37 74 111 103 19 11 23 34 29
1988–89 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 33 61 94 130 7 1 11 12 8
1989–90 Edmonton Oilers NHL 79 45 84 129 79 22 9 22 31 20
1990–91 Edmonton Oilers NHL 53 12 52 64 34 18 4 11 15 16
1991–92 New York Rangers NHL 79 35 72 107 76 11 7 7 14 6
1992–93 New York Rangers NHL 75 25 66 91 72
1993–94 New York Rangers NHL 76 26 58 84 76 23 12 18 30 33
1994–95 New York Rangers NHL 46 14 39 53 40 10 3 10 13 8
1995–96 New York Rangers NHL 74 47 52 99 122 11 4 7 11 16
1996–97 New York Rangers NHL 71 36 48 84 88 15 3 9 12 6
1997–98 Vancouver Canucks NHL 82 22 38 60 58
1998–99 Vancouver Canucks NHL 59 13 35 48 33
1999–00 Vancouver Canucks NHL 66 17 37 54 30
2000–01 New York Rangers NHL 82 24 43 67 89
2001–02 New York Rangers NHL 41 7 16 23 32
2002–03 New York Rangers NHL 78 18 22 40 30
2003–04 New York Rangers NHL 76 18 25 43 42
NHL totals 1756 694 1193 1887 1910 236 109 186 295 244


See also



Notes

External links




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