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Crease 07-17-2013 07:57 AM

[News Archives] The Look
 
In an article from Sports Illustrated titled The Look dated 2/12/1996, Michael Farber writes about Mark Messier's leadership. There are two types of people in this world: those who saw Messier before he left to play for Vancouver and those who only saw him after.


Quote:

"You think of Patton. you think of MacArthur...that's how we feel about Mark," goalie Glenn Healy says of Messier. "The true test of a leader is if he makes you a better player. He won't make you shoot harder or pass better or make more saves, but being a better player isn't just about skills. We sometimes say a guy has all the tools but no toolbox. The game is about having a toolbox, and no one understands that better or helps put things in perspective like Mark. We believe in him, in what he represents."
Quote:

When Rangers enforcer Darren Langdon was called up from the minors last season for his first NHL game, he found a Hugo Boss suit hanging in his dressing-room stall. The attached note read. "From the Guys." As it turned out. "the Guys" was Messier, and the suit was his way of making someone feel part of the group, like his team barbecues or riotous masquerade parties.
Quote:

There is an oft-told story—one that might even be true—that in 1987 Messier grabbed Kent Nilsson, a flashy but fainthearted Oilers forward, and told him that if he didn't play harder, he would have to kill him. "Folklore," says Lowe, who concedes that he has heard the tale. Another former Oiler, who won't confirm the Nilsson story but doesn't exactly deny it, either, says, "You didn't get this from me, but I heard he also threatened [former Rangers coach] Mike Keenan."
And then this great quote from Messier about the Neilson firing:

Quote:

Theirs was a philosophical clash: the captain's belief in an attacking style versus the coach's reliance on a counterattacking system. "Oil and water," says Messier, whose mutiny cost the respected Neilson his job. "In my mind I knew we wouldn't win the Cup his way. Should I have shut up, gone along for the ride, finished out my contract? Or should I have stood up and said what I felt and taken one for the team? At times the price of winning can be very harsh. I felt the players had to be protected. My responsibility was to the group of guys who were good enough to win a championship."

Also some good stuff on Messier/Keenan after Iron Mike benched Leetch in Game 4 of the '94 ECF.

The timing of this post is probably not great. His legacy took a hit from his destructive presence on the team in the early '00s, and even moreso recently. But he remains one of the greatest captains in sports history and an integral part of turning this franchise around in the 1990s.

Full Article

Gardner McKay 07-17-2013 09:17 AM

Thank you for posting this. I love reading stuff like this. Forget the nostalgic part of it but just more so for a learning factor.

Crease 07-17-2013 09:27 AM

I was too young to remember Leetch's benching in Game 4. Or maybe I wasn't watching the game carefully enough. I'm going to have to go back and watch the video.


Quote:

But an even truer measure of Messier's leadership had come behind closed doors a few days before. Keenan, who had become the Rangers' coach in '93-94, had acted erratically in Game 4 of the Devils series, benching eventual playoff MVP Brian Leetch after a bad shift and cutting Messier's ice time. After the game, a 3-1 New Jersey win, Keenan exaggerated the injuries of five key players to the press. The benchings shocked the New York players, who were furious Keenan hadn't given them the best chance to win the game.

The next day Messier stormed into Keenan's office for an emotional 45-minute meeting during which the captain reminded the coach that the players needed his support and compassion. When Messier emerged he simply told teammates, "It won't happen again." It didn't. Only Messier had the stature and strength to bridge the chasm between Keenan and his team. "I've always been curious about what exactly was said in there," one Ranger says, "but it's not something you ask. All I know is we never would have won the series, or the Cup, without that meeting."


Does anyone remember what they were thinking watching that game unfold?

By the way, "the Look" refers to the aura of seriousness that Messier would take on hours before a big performance. Gretzky and Tikkanen mentioned Messier had it a few hours before his Game 5 performance against the Panthers in '97.

Bleed Ranger Blue 07-17-2013 11:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crease (Post 69301377)
I was too young to remember Leetch's benching in Game 4. Or maybe I wasn't watching the game carefully enough. I'm going to have to go back and watch the video.





Does anyone remember what they were thinking watching that game unfold?

By the way, "the Look" refers to the aura of seriousness that Messier would take on hours before a big performance. Gretzky and Tikkanen mentioned Messier had it a few hours before his Game 5 performance against the Panthers in '97.

I was 12 years old in '94, too young to have a worthwhile opinion, but I remember my father screaming at the television during game 4 vs. the Devils regarding the Leetch benching. The most disheartening thing to come of that was that Game 5 was, by far, the Rangers' worst performance of those playoffs. The team looked done.

Messier's game 6 performance in a vacuum is enough to be one of the greats -- but it was even more special considering how the team looked at the end of game 4 and all of game 5.

vipernsx 07-17-2013 11:46 AM

There is a reason why Gretzky is called "The Great One" and Messier is called "The Captain". The dude is a, lead them into the trenches, dig through it, keep on trucking and come out the other side on top machine!

Bluenote13 07-17-2013 11:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue (Post 69305621)
Messier's game 6 performance in a vacuum is enough to be one of the greats -- but it was even more special considering how the team looked at the end of game 4 and all of game 5.

Everyone I knew pretty much thought we were done after game 4 and 5. When the Devs went up 2-0 in game 6, it was like a funeral in my house. The score could have easily been 5-0 if not for Richter's brilliant play. That 3rd period in game 6 was something that alot of Ranger fans have never seen, it was a Ranger miracle, Messier's leadership was such an influence, can never be denied, and that's why it often gets overdone, but with good reason.

SingnBluesOnBroadway 07-17-2013 11:56 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue (Post 69305621)
Messier's game 6 performance in a vacuum is enough to be one of the greats -- but it was even more special considering how the team looked at the end of game 4 and all of game 5.

Or how they looked at the end of the first period of Game 6. Best game I've ever been to.

Bleed Ranger Blue 07-17-2013 12:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by SingnBluesOnBroadway (Post 69306505)
Or how they looked at the end of the first period of Game 6. Best game I've ever been to.

Yup, cant forgot how it continued well into game 6, until Kovalev sent a jolt of electricity through the team.

Blue Seat Spartan 07-17-2013 09:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crease (Post 69301377)
I was too young to remember Leetch's benching in Game 4. Or maybe I wasn't watching the game carefully enough. I'm going to have to go back and watch the video.





Does anyone remember what they were thinking watching that game unfold?

By the way, "the Look" refers to the aura of seriousness that Messier would take on hours before a big performance. Gretzky and Tikkanen mentioned Messier had it a few hours before his Game 5 performance against the Panthers in '97.

I remember reading about it in a biography about Messier in 2000 which also chronicled the lead-up to the bitter contract dispute that saw Messier sign with the Canucks in the summer of '97. I forgot the name of the author for that book (Was it by John Dellapina? I'm still not sure...)

As for 1994, I still have Barry Meisel's "Losing the Edge", and he too mentioned "the Look" and tongue lashing Messier administered to his teammates when they were playing listless at the Coliseum against the Islanders during their late season playoff push in the lockout-shortened season following their Cup win. The Rangers then proceeded push the Isles around "just like they did the year before" to come back and win the game (which I recall was televised on the "NHL on FOX"!).

Steve Kournianos 07-18-2013 02:09 AM

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...7299/index.htm


My personal favorite.

Crease 07-18-2013 07:03 AM

Nice one GWOW! Another good one is referenced by your avatar.

SupersonicMonkey* 07-18-2013 07:22 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bleed Ranger Blue (Post 69306989)
Yup, cant forgot how it continued well into game 6, until Kovalev sent a jolt of electricity through the team.

Sick to my stomach until that Kovalev goal.

The Great Disaster 07-18-2013 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Crease (Post 69337267)
Nice one GWOW! Another good one is referenced by your avatar.

Another great article from his pre-1994 days as a NYR.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vau...33/1/index.htm

Jackson Ranger 07-18-2013 03:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bluenote13 (Post 69306343)
Everyone I knew pretty much thought we were done after game 4 and 5. When the Devs went up 2-0 in game 6, it was like a funeral in my house. The score could have easily been 5-0 if not for Richter's brilliant play. That 3rd period in game 6 was something that alot of Ranger fans have never seen, it was a Ranger miracle, Messier's leadership was such an influence, can never be denied, and that's why it often gets overdone, but with good reason.

People have mentioned the look, go back and watch the 3rd period of game 6 in 1994. I believe before he scores the empty net goal, he is circling around before the faceoff like a shark with that steely look like no one is going to stop me from winning. I was at the game and never saw it until recently.

The other thing that gets lost here is the weight of 54 years on that team's shoulders and specifically Messier as captain. That team had two foes to beat, the team they were playing and Rangers history. Because they were able to overcome everything is why the 1994 team, and Messier, are so special.


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