September 12, 2005

A legend hangs them up.:
Mark Messier retires from the NHL.

posted by grum@work to hockey at 12:17 PM - 28 comments


  • Only player to captain two different teams to a Stanley Cup championship.
  • 2nd all time in games played behind Gordie Howe.
  • Last player that played in the (long-defunct) WHA to finally retire.
  • 2nd all time in points behind Wayne Gretzky.
  • Guaranteed a game 7 in 1994 semi-finals vs New Jersey, and then went out and scored a hat-trick to get it done.
  • Considered the one of the greatest captains in North American sports history.

posted by grum@work at 12:22 PM on September 12, 2005

Why did I think that he was older than 44?

posted by daddisamm at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2005

My understanding was that Edmonton offered him a contract to end it all where it started. Nine games to go to break Gordie's once unassaultable record for games played (though if it were not for the WHA, Mess wouldn't be close). I am a little disappointed that those of us who have followed his whole career don't get a chance to thank him properly. As a kid, I loved Gretzky and could relate to him, being smaller and less physical than the players around him, but his skill level was inhuman - stratospheric. However, when I watched the Oilers in the playoffs as a fresh young WeedyMcSmokey I always wanted to be Messier - the fury, skill, leadership and passion; he was/is hockey personified. Also, don't forget grum that Messier is second All-time in playoff scoring - perhaps his most impressive record outside of his Cups. Damn, I'm convinced that this is the legacy of the lockout for a fan like me. It killed the career and denied the final year of the greatest leader and gamesman this generation has ever seen.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 12:46 PM on September 12, 2005

Sorry to be a jerk, but Messier guaranteed a Game 6 victory vs the Devils in '94. The Rangers had to go to The Meadowlands and win in order to force a deciding game seven. Messier said they'd win and then he went out and made sure they did just that. That game is gonna be on MSG in the next few nights. My Tivo has been warned that should it decide to record anything other than that game, it will meet the business-end of a hammer. Beyond that promise to win in Game Six, quite simply, Mark Messier brought a cup to New York. And if you ask any Rangers fan, they'll tell you the same. Despite down-right heroic efforts from Richter, Conn Smythe play from Leetch, and all of the others back in '94, every Rangers fan will tell you that it was Messier that brought the Cup back to Manhattan. The man ended fifty-odd years of frustration and earned a nickname usually reserved for the Son of God. May and June of 1994 were two of the best months of my life. No kidding. The last few years have been rough on Mark. The team sucked and the age started to show. It was tough to watch, particularly when he was booed at home. That just ain't right. But the end of the last season the fans gave him his proper respects. And come January, when that #11 with the "C" runs up to the rafters in MSG... Well, that's gonna be awesome.

posted by 86 at 01:25 PM on September 12, 2005

Let me be the first to say "it's about friggin time"...

posted by MeatSaber at 01:57 PM on September 12, 2005

Sorry to be a jerk, but Messier guaranteed a Game 6 victory vs the Devils in '94. Sorry to be nitpicky, but a guarantee of having a Game 7 (which is what I wrote) is the same thing as guaranteeing a win in Game 6. ;)

posted by grum@work at 02:37 PM on September 12, 2005

The thought of a "fresh, young WeedyMcSmokey" makes me giggle. Messier redefined the way the game was played, he was as great a power forward as we'll ever see, and -- and this was maybe his biggest accomplishment -- he didn't suffer by comparison to Gretzky. That's an accomplishment all by itself. This may have been the right time for him to leave, but I don't think he overstayed his welcome at all. He still lived to play, and he was contributing to the team. Shame that that team sucked, but I'm glad he played as long as he did.

posted by chicobangs at 02:50 PM on September 12, 2005

I really loved his wrong-footed wrister

posted by garfield at 02:55 PM on September 12, 2005

My bad grum. I just re-read it and you are correct, sir.

posted by 86 at 03:05 PM on September 12, 2005

I just want to say thank you mess for bringing my team a cup. Thanks for all the memories. Thanks for being a part of something great. I will miss watching you play, and good luck with your future.

posted by tupacalypse at 04:02 PM on September 12, 2005

I will miss your granite cranium shining like Kieron Dwyer's Red Skull on the ices of North America.

posted by yerfatma at 04:17 PM on September 12, 2005

That makes Stevens, MacInnis, Messier, and Damphousse all retiring after the lockout season. Too bad they didn't get a better chance to say goodbye with skates on. Might be a stacked ballot for the Hall of Fame in a few years?

posted by gspm at 05:21 PM on September 12, 2005

Well, MacInnis & Stevens have both done enough, though Stevens' dirty reputation might postpone his induction a year or two. Damphousse... I don't think he's done enough to get in. We'll see who else hangs them up as training camps get into gear. gspm, you may yet be right, but I don't think it's going to be an issue yet.

posted by chicobangs at 05:55 PM on September 12, 2005

As a kid growing up in Florida, back in the days when the only pro franchise in the state was the Miami Dolphins, I didn't even see a hockey game until I was 13 years old. Between the Miracle on Ice, Messier, and Gretzky, I became a hockey fan. I remember always having this mental picture of Gretzky as the "good cop," and Messier as the one who grabbed you by the back of the head and smashed your face into the table. Damn, I'll miss the Mess.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 07:04 PM on September 12, 2005

I wonder, conspiracy theory going here, what the NHL had to say concerning the bargaining agreement (forced retirement on some players?). Look at the amount of people retiring, big names, steady players. Messier, Patrick, Stevens, McInnis.... Who is next? Roenick? Modano? Fransis? Roy? Chelios (hopefully)? Or did the players just get sick of the owners BS?

posted by Stealth_72 at 01:06 AM on September 13, 2005

May and June of 1994 were two of the best months of my life. No kidding. I couldn't agree with you more!

posted by supersly26 at 02:16 AM on September 13, 2005

Stealth_72: Nah. 18 months off is a lot of disrupted routine for an old and tired body. I have no doubt that a few players put off the decision as to whether to retire or not until they started the pre-camp workouts to see how their bodies would react. If I was pushing 40 and had just taken a year off and started smelling the roses while my body suddenly realized how great it was to not take all that punishment for eight months of the year, I'd give retirement a good hard look too. Frankly, I'd be surprised if more players don't cash out before (& during) training camp.

posted by chicobangs at 02:37 AM on September 13, 2005

Two of the best months of my life as well. Remmeber, the Knicks were also making their run to the Finals at the same time, so every night was a big game. I used to live down the block from the Garden, and the night the Rangers won the Cup was just amazing -- none of the violence we've seen elsewhere, just an outpouring of joy. I was in a bar on the Upper West Side, and just after MacTavish won the draw to clinch it, Beck's "Loser" came on the jukebox and it felt as if the weight of the sports world had just been lifted. So long, Mess.

posted by ajaffe at 07:32 AM on September 13, 2005

Who is next? Roenick? Modano? Fransis? Roy? Chelios (hopefully)? Roenick is playing in LA and is still producing at a high level. Modano is still at least a few years away from retirement. Francis is going to retire because he can't land a job. Roy retired 2 years ago, and Chelios is giving it one more kick at the can in Detroit. MacInnis' retirement has been a little lost in the shuffle, but might be one of the more tragic ones since out of all these retiring players, he was actually preforming at a world-class level. It wasn't old age, but an eye injury that made him slow down. He is still probably underrated, mainly because his best years were all in his 30s - but he has to be considered the best defenceman - after Bourque - of his generation.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:50 AM on September 13, 2005

Well, with MacInnis you could also say his best years were with Calgary (A Cup, and his 7 highest point totals) leaving the Flames as he entered his 30s. I mean, I only say this having grown up as a Flames fan and hoping that maybe he'd make the HOF based on his Flames career moreso than what he did in St Louis.

posted by gspm at 10:59 AM on September 13, 2005

You're right - his best years stats-wise were in Calgary - I was just equally impressed with his never-ending longevity and his ability to continue to eat 25-30 minutes a night well into his 40s. Can you imagine seeing a d-man get 100 points again? I can't - not yet.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:49 PM on September 13, 2005

The man ended fifty-odd years of frustration and earned a nickname usually reserved for the Son of God. The Moose? I'm not familiar with your religion, but I'd sure like to see some pamphlets.

posted by fabulon7 at 08:48 AM on September 14, 2005

The Mighty and all-holy Moose - scourge of Daemons and... various grasses. Services begin promptly at 8:30, just follow the antlers. In Nu Yawk I think they called him The Messiah, fabby. Though you may have known that.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:13 AM on September 14, 2005

And now Francis is out. MacInnis, Messier and Francis all have to be first ballot locks.

posted by gspm at 04:53 PM on September 14, 2005

There's a dirty joke I'll probably never be able to tell again, the punchline of which is: - "Messy, eh?" - "Oh, no, honey, it's me, Wayne!" Yeah, the HoF class in 5 years is going to be crowded. Francis, who should be a lock, is going to be a borderline case that year.

posted by chicobangs at 06:10 PM on September 14, 2005

Is there some limit to the number of inductees? Not getting in on the first ballot would be a huge slap in the face to Francis who has kind of fought that underappreciated label his entire career given that he played most of it in Hartford and Carolina in addition to a stretch in Pittsbugh behind the flashier Lemieux and Jagr. But those numbers man, you can't dis that.

posted by gspm at 09:32 PM on September 14, 2005

Thank you Mess for The Cup, for great memories, for ending many years of frustration. I'll miss you but the memories will live on. Looking forward to #11 being raised to the rafters.

posted by hurrimom316 at 06:06 PM on September 18, 2005

Is there some limit to the number of inductees? Yes. The maximum number of inductees in a single year is 4. Stevens Francis MacInnis Messier If someone else retires (say Yzerman before the first game of the season), then I think it would be Stevens that would be on the outside looking in this year.

posted by grum@work at 10:46 PM on September 18, 2005

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