Monday, September 12, 2005

The Moose and Markus

Mark Messier officially announced his retirement after 25 years in the National Hockey League. He retires ranked 2nd in games played (1,756) to Gordie Howe (1,767), and 2nd in points scored (1,887) to Wayne Gretzky (2,857). Messier was a six-time Stanley Cup winner and two-time league MVP.

Unfortunately for Canucks fans, Messier spent a disastrous and controversial time in Vancouver and was unable to take the Canucks over the proverbial hump. In fact, his time with the Canucks were among the darkest in team history, failing to make the post-season in any of his three seasons.

But despite the lack of on-ice success, Messier had a tremendous influence on the team. When current Canucks captain Markus Naslund won the Lester B. Pearson award in 2003, he attributed his development as a player to Messier:
I think my biggest influence has been Messier. Watching him prepare for games and how seriously he still took everything at his age. A lot of the qualities that he had helped me get better.
With regards to his growth as a leader, Naslund added:
Anytime you're around greatness, which I look at him (Messier) being, I think you try to pick up things. Just trying to see how he tried to keep the team tight, not only on the ice but off the ice, that's stuff that you try to remember.
To see Naslund's evolution to one of the NHL's premier players, this is perhaps Messier's greatest contribution to the Canucks - his leadership is his legacy.

posted by J.J. Guerrero, 11:10 PM


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