A tribute to one of the greatest athletes in sports history!

Recently a story was posted pertaining to the possible retirement of two hockey greats Scott Stevens and Mark Messier. This article got 16 comments! SIXTEEN COMMENTS PERTAINING TO THE RETIREMENT OF ONE OF THE GREATEST ATHLETES AND ABSOLUTE GREATEST LEADER IN ALL OF SPORTS MARK MESSIER!! In this day and age of Hockey Trade Rumors.com where a rumor of the Leafs signing Marius Czerkawsk…how ever you spell his name gets 310 comments how does the retirement of an undeniable all time legend get packaged with another news item and only get 16 comments? So I want to do the Moose justice and Give Mark Messier the tribute he deserves. First of lets discuss the present. Mark Messier is most likely not retireing. Almost every site everyone here reads Eklunds, Thefourthperiod, Spectors, TSN etc… is reporting Mark Messier is close to returning to the team he started his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers. Messier can and will help the Oilers a great deal. Not only from a leadership standpoint (which I’ll address later) but from a production standpoint. As we all know Edmonton has a promising lineup with one possible fatal flaw. They are thin at center. Messier would be a great upgrade. In Mesier’s last two years with the often dreadfull New York Rangers Messier posted 18 goals and 22 assists in 02-03 and 18 goals and 25 assists in 03-04. Are these numbers earth shattering? No not by any means. Are they still productive, and can they help the Oilers? Absolutly.

Where else can Messier help the Oil? Well his greatest role will be where it has been his entire career, with leadership. Looking at the Oilers lineup it’s easy to note two things, it’s filled with promising, talented players, and alot of those players are young and inexperienced. Raffi Torres, Alexi Semenov, Ales Hemsky, Marc Andre Bergeron, all players that have talent but are young. Messier is a known leader, motivater and teacher. He is universally accepted as the greatest leader in sports history. Think about that, in all of sports history! Sports hass had leaders like Pete Rose, Wilt Chamberlain, Larry Bird, John Elway, the list goes on and on and Messier is put at the top of that list! So it’s easy to see where his greatest impact would be on the Oilers.

Now to the legend of Mark Messier. Being that his career is obviously quickly coming to a close I thinks it would be appropriate to reflect upon Messier’s legend. Moose is known for his as one of the NHL’s all time leading scorers, Messier emerged from Oiler teams of the 1980s to become a hockey great. Messier has won a total of six Stanley Cup Championships and and twice he took home the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. When the Oil won their 1st Cup in 84 Messier playing with greats the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Grant Fuhr, was the MVP in the playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for his 26 post-season points and his incredible leadership.

When The Great One left for L.A. in 88, Messier was given the “C”, although many predicted the Oilers’ run of success was over. In the 1989 playoffs, the Oilers were upset by Gretzky’s L.A. Kings and the skepticism surrounding the team seemed to be merited. One season later, however, in 1989-90, Messier had his greatest season, finishing second to Gretzky with 129 points. He also won the Hart Trophy over Ray Bourque as the league’s most valuable player. In the playoffs, with the Oilers down 2-1 in games to the Blackhawks in the semi’s, Moose took over in the fourth game, scoring two goals and collecting two assists in Edmonton’s 4-2 road win. His one-man display impressed everyone, Chicago players, coaches and fans as well, and his all-time performance inspired the Oilers. Edmonton swept the remaining games from Chicago and easily handled Bourque and the Bruins in the finals to give Messier his fifth Stanley Cup ring with Edmonton.

Messier was traded to the New York Rangers before to the 1991-92 season for Bernie Nichols, Steven Rice and Louie DeBrusk. In New yourk Messier engineered one of New Yorks all time greatest sports moments. The Strangers were down 3-2 in games to the Devils in the Eastern Conference finals. Messier publicly GAURANTEED a game six win. He followed up on his promise with a incredible performance, scoring a hat-trick in the third to bring his team back from elimination and force a game seven. Messier and the Rangers dispatched the Devils and then won the Cup in another thrilling series against the Vancouver Canucks. Messier scored the Cup winning goal in game seven. With the victory, the Rangers first in over 50 years, Mess became the first player to captain seperate different teams to Stanley Cup titles.

Since that pinacle moment Messier has had a productive career with both the Rangers and Vancouver Canucks for a few Years. Messier will be ultimatly remembered as much for his leadership abilities as for his acomplishments on the ice. His icy stare that flat out scared his younger teamates into raising their game, to his motivational speeches that elevated entire teams, Messier always knew what to say and when to say it.

“In any form of competition or battle, he is the perfect leader”

-Mike Richter

We should all respect what Mark Messier has done for the game of hockey and for sports in general.