Thursday, January 12, 2006

An Appreciation of Mark Messier

Tonight is going to hurt.

I know, it's just a game. I know, he barely played for my Rangers for a few years. I know, he left the first time under horrid circumstances. I know, his return was pathetically weak.

But I also know that he almost singlehandedly, along with Brian Leetch and Mike Richter, and a crew of other amazingly hard working players, brought the Stanley Cup to New York after 54 years.

At that time I was a Rangers' fan for about half of that drought. I'd lived thru 1969, and the Ron Duguay years. Each year, I could promise myself an early baseball (and later, softball) season.

Until 1994. Suddenly, my winter lasted until June.

I played against him once, in a charity hockey game. I knew he was playing at about 20%, but nevertheless, I was forced to raise my game to a level I didn't think I could achieve. Would that I could have done that every night.

I don't have to link to his career so that you can understand what he means to the game. All you need to read here is that he came eleven games short of setting the record for the most NHL games played. Eleven. His uniform number. How much more perfect could that have been?

Mark, you may never, probably never, read this, but thank you.

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