When it comes to leadership in sports, Mark Messier is considered one of the greatest. He was also likened to Gordie Howe and recognized as one of the most complete players in his generation.
The Canadian born hockey player was born on January 18, 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta. He was introduced to hockey at a very early age as his father, who was once a hockey player was coaching a junior team II team at the time. He also had an elder brother who played hockey so it a lot easier to have it ingrained in him.
At 11, he started to serve as a stick boy and did this for over four years. He served on the Spruce Grove Mets team in the Alberta junior leagues and went on to join their lineup as a hockey player at 15. He decided soon after to focus on sports which led to him deciding to quit high school in 12th grade.
Mark was called “The Moose” in his professional career mainly because of his size and abilities. He was a very strong player which was a product of his size, but, he also had grit and genuine love for the game.
Messier started his professional career at an early age after he skipped the major junior and college hockey completely. At age 17, he was invited by the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association for a five-game tryout. Due to his inability to register a point in all five games played, he was released by the team afterward. After his release, the Cincinnati Stingers immediately signed him as a free agent. He went on to play 47 games for the team in the 1978 – 1979 season where he garnered more penalties (58) than points (11) where only one was a goal.
The Edmonton Oilers, in 1979, selected the 18-year-old in the NHL’s Entry Draft. He was the 48th overall pick and was the team’s second choice.
He spent 12 years with the Oilers and in that time, helped them to win 5 Stanley Cup championships with the most recent being in 1990 just before his trade to the New York Rangers.
In his first year in the Rangers, he guided them to the best record in the NHL but could not deliver the Stanley Cup championship. However, his third season with the Rangers was memorable as he helped them win the Stanley Cup; giving the Rangers their first win in 54 years. He spent three more years with the Rangers before deciding on a move to the Vancouver Canucks in 1997.
He returned to the New York Rangers in 2000 and eventually retired from professional hockey in 2004 with just 11 games behind Gordie Howe’s NHL record of most played regular-season games which stood at 1,767.
First and the Only Player to Captain Two teams to the Stanley Cup
Mark Messier helped two of the teams he played in win the Stanley Cup. He won six overall; five with the Edmonton Oilers and one with the New York Rangers. He captained both teams to victories and so, remains the only player to have won the Stanley Cup with two different teams as a captain.
Mark has won the Hart Trophy twice in his career. His strength and leadership quality favored him to win this trophy as the league’s MVP; one time winning it over Boston’s Ray Bourque.
Con Smythe Trophy
Messier played alongside the all-time greatest scorer in the NHL – Wayne Gretzky – for 11 seasons but was still able to win the playoffs MVP title over him in 1984. He went on to win it on two other occasions in 1990 and 1992.
Messier who also played for his country went ahead and helped his national team win some trophies. In 1989, he won the silver medal at the World Ice Hockey Championships in Sweden. He bagged another silver medal at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.
He’s in second for the all-time career list for playoff points with 295. In the regular season, he’s in third with 1887 points behind Jaromir Jagr and Wayne Gretzky. He was also inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007; being one out of a handful of players that achieved that in their first year of eligibility.