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Mark Messier's 11 Greatest Moments

Oilers all-time great turns 50 today as we look back on his spectacular career

Tuesday, 18.01.2011 / 2:33 AM / Features
By Marc Ciampa  - edmontonoilers.com
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Mark Messier\'s 11 Greatest Moments
Oilers great Mark Messier spent 12 seasons wearing orange and blue during which time he collected a littany of hardware, including five Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy, a Hart Trophy, multiple first-and-second-team all-star selections and more.

Visit Oilers on Demand as we loaded up the video player with some Messier memories

On this day, Messier turns 50 - born January 18, 1961 right here in Edmonton -- and to honour him we look back on his magnificent career. In chronological order, here are 11 of his greatest moments:
  1. 50-goal season in 1981-82
  2. At the age of 21, Messier reached the half-century mark in goals in only his third season in the NHL.

    It was also the third consecutive season of him nearly doubling his previous year's output in goals. In 1979-80, Messier had 12 goals. He followed that up with a 23-goal output in 1980-81 before his 50-goal outburst in 1981-82. Messier was named to the NHL's first all-star team that year.

    While he managed to hit totals of 45, 47 and 48 goals later on in his career, it was the only time he would reach 50. 

  3. 1983 Smythe Division Final - The Battle Begins
  4. One of the most entertaining rivalries in the 1980s and arguably in the history of the NHL was the Battle of Alberta between the Oilers and the Calgary Flames.

    The Oilers and Flames have met in the postseason a total of five times, with the Oilers coming out on top on four of those occasions. Mark Messier was a member of the Oilers all five times as the meetings occurred between 1983 and 1991. During this eight-year time period, either the Flames or Oilers ended up as the Western representative in the Stanley Cup Finals every single season.

    The first-ever playoff series between the two teams came in 1983 during the second round, otherwise known as the Smythe Division Final. In the first-ever playoff game between the provincial rivals, Messier scored four goals en route to a 6-3 Edmonton win.

    The Oilers would go on to take the series four games to one and eventually advance to their first-ever Stanley Cup Final. Messier led the team with 15 goals in 15 games throughout the 1983 postseason.

  5. 1984 Stanley Cup Playoffs - Conn Smythe Trophy Winner
  6. Watch Video: 1984 Cup

    The Oilers came up short in 1983, losing in four games to the New York Islanders, but they would not be denied a year later as the two teams engaged in a rematch during the 1984 Finals.

    The Oilers took Game 1 by a score of 1-0 but then got a dose of reality from the Islanders in Game 2, dropping a 6-1 decision. 

    In Game 3, the Oilers found themselves behind the eight ball down 2-0 but Messier strapped the team on his back and scored a brilliant goal on an end-to-end rush to cut the New York lead to 2-1. The Oilers would go on to win that game 7-2 and ultimately would take the series four games to one.

    Messier had eight goals and 26 points to rank third on the team in scoring but his knack for timely goals and outstanding work ethic earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as Most Valuable Player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that year. 

  7. Messier vs. The Great One
  8. On August 9, 1988 Wayne Gretzky was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings.

    During the regular season in 1988-89, Gretzky enjoyed quite a bit of success against the Oilers -- including the scoring of his 1851st career point at Northlands Coliseum to surpass Gordie Howe as the NHL's all-time leading scorer.

    However, Messier drew the line in the sand when the two teams met in the 1989 playoffs. Early in the series, Messier rubbed Gretzky out against the boards as a sign that the team needed to put friendships aside and play to win. Los Angeles would go on to win that battle and take the series in a hard-fought seven games but the Oilers ultimately won the war, defeating the Kings in each of the next three playoff meetings between the two clubs.

  9. 1990 Hart Trophy
  10. While with the Kings, Gretzky did win the Hart Trophy in 1988-89 as League's Most Valuable Player -- his ninth in 10 seasons -- but in 1989-90 it was Messier's turn.

    Messier was second only to Wayne in NHL scoring with 129 points that season -- the greatest total in his career. He had five more goals than Gretzky at 45 goals and added 84 assists.

    Messier was also a First All-Star Team selection and was the winner of the Pearson Award as the NHLPA's most valuable player.

  11. The Drive For Five
  12. Watch Video: 1990 Cup

    Messier had gained clear ownership of the OIlers by the time the 1990 playoffs came around. It was his team and he was going to do everything he could to restore the Gretzky-less squad to past glory.

    The postseason started out slowly for the Oilers, falling behind three games to one against the Winnipeg Jets but Edmonton rallied to take out the Jets in seven games and advance to the next round.

    The second round proved to be a bit easier, sweeping the Kings four games to none and avenging the previous season's playoff series loss.

    In the third round, the Oilers bounced the Blackhawks four games to two. Messier's defining game of those playoffs was likely Game 4 of that series. With Chicago leading the series two games to one and also leading that game 2-1, Messier threw the team on his back. He scored a goal off the rush while taking a stick in the throat to tie the game and ultimately conributed two goals and two assists for a four-point effort in a 4-2 Edmonton win.

    They would go on to take that series in six games and then defeat the Boston Bruins for their fifth Stanley Cup -- and first without Gretzky -- in seven seasons. 

  13. Winning Another Hart Trophy
  14. Following the 1990-91 season, Mark Messier was traded by the Oilers to the New York Rangers. 

    In his first season in Manhattan, Messier scored 35 goals, 72 assists and 107 points for a sixth-place finish in regular season scoring. He was named to the NHL's First All-Star Team, once again captured the Pearson Award and for the second time, won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's MVP.

    With the win, Messier joined an elite class of players who have won the trophy twice.

  15. The Guarantee
  16. Watch Video: The Guarantee

    When Messier joined the Rangers in 1991-92, the team had one of the longest championship droughts in professional sports outside of Chicago and certainly the longest in the NHL as the Rangers had gone 52 years without a Stanley Cup.

    Messier came up empty in 1992 and 1993 but in 1994 he made history and carried the Rangers to the Stanley Cup.

    Perhaps most famously from that playoff run, prior to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, with the Rangers trailing the series three-games-to-two and on the road in New Jersey, Messier guaranteed a win for the Rangers. Not only did the Rangers win, Messier backed up his own words. New Jersey led 2-1 in the third period when Messier scored twice before completing the Natural Hat Trick on an empty-net insurance marker to give the Rangers a 4-2 win.

    The Rangers would go on to capture that series in Game 7 and then defeated the Vancouver Canucks in seven one round later to capture their first Stanley Cup since 1940.  

  17. Passing Gordie
  18. Watch Video: Mess reaches 1851

    When Gordie Howe amassed his 1850th point during the 1979-80 season with the Hartford Whalers, many felt that it was a record that would never be broken. 

    That same season was the first in the NHL for both Messier and Gretzky. Incredibly, it took Gretzky less than 10 years from that time to surpass Howe.

    The second person to eclipse Howe was Messier. He accomplished the feat on November 4, 2003 in a game against the Dallas Stars. Messier would retire at the end of that season, putting up 1887 points overall.

  19. Goes Out in Style
  20. Watch Video: Messier's Last Goal

    In what would turn out to be his last-ever game in the NHL, Mark Messier scored a goal on March 31, 2004 at Madison Square Garden against the Buffalo Sabres. It was his 18th of the season and 43rd point in 76 games.

    The goal would cap a remarkable career which spanned four decades and 25 seasons as Messier became the final active player from the old World Hockey Association.

    He scored 694 goals to rank seventh all-time in the NHL, 1193 assists to rank third all-time and 1887 points to rank second only to Wayne Gretzky.

    Also, at 1756 career games played, Messier was only 11 behind Gordie Howe for the most in NHL history.

  21. #11 Goes to the Rafters
  22. Watch Video: Retirement Ceremony

    On February 27, 2007 the Edmonton Oilers honoured the great career of Mark Messier by raising his number 11 to the rafters at Rexall Place.

    Messier was the only player in franchise history to don the number 11 throughout the team's tenure in the NHL.

    It's only fitting that the last word goes to the man they call Moose. On that night, he addressed Oilers fans while in uniform for one final time.

    "We were a group of boys at the time, and the next thing you know we were playing for the Stanley Cup five years later," said Messier. "It's good to be back home.

    "The experiences we shared here were so powerful and intense, and when you think of it, it has affected how you live your life. One of the things I'm most proud of is the Edmonton Oilers have remained an institution in sport."
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