Are you ready to hear the dirty little secret about Mark Messier?
You’re going to be shocked.
Seriously. If you’re pregnant or nursing, I’m going to have to ask you to stop reading. Also, if you’re under 5’2″, my lawyers are also telling me to turn you away.
Are you ready?
The dirty little secret about Mark Messier is that a lot of New Yorkers don’t like him.
Now obviously I don’t have the data to back this statement up, but I will tell you that if you talk hockey around New York and bring up Messier, you hear some interesting takes on him.
Some people blame him for splitting for Vancouver in 1997. And then coming back three years later. A lot of people see it as a jerk move, like his only concern was a nice fat, paycheck.
Some people blame him for his ridiculous ice time. The guy was in his late 70s and getting 20 minutes a night while the Rangers’ few prospects were sitting on the bench.
Plus, every season with Messier the team had to find out if he was coming back sometime in October. He could never let them know, you know, a few months in advance. Nope. Messier was always like ‘OK. The season starts tomorrow. There’s nothing good on TV then. I think I’ll be back for another season.’
Messier was certainly a hero. He practically single-handedly brought a Stanley Cup to New York. He was a great player. He will be missed. That ovation he got in 2004 when everyone was pretty sure he was going to retire, was genuine.
But it’s the same feeling you have when the guy in the cube next door takes a new job. You’re sad and you miss him and three days later you can’t remember his name.
I think it’s going to be like that with Messier.
You’ll see lots of nice tributes and ceremonies and then he’s going to sort of flutter away.
Messier was a great player, but at the end of the day, he’s just not a great New York player. It’s a fine distinction, but one most New Yorkers can make intuitively.
And on a semi-related note, it kind of pisses me off that Messier is getting this big send off and no one has ever done anything for Adam Graves, who never even really got to retire. He just sort of stopped playing.
Graves was a hero on the ice and a legend in the community.
I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but when the Garden caught a glimpse of Graves at the Mike Richter retirement ceremony, the place erupted. It erupted like 18,000 people had all found their long-lost brother at the same time.
So Messier better enjoy all the attention now. In a few months, we’ll be stealing his office supplies.