Today’s #TBT sports blog remembers one of the greatest NHL players ever. This former New York Ranger earned his fitting nickname – the Messiah – in the Big Apple in 1994.
The Messiah moniker was a clever adaptation of New York Rangers’ hockey savior Mark Messier’s name.
That’s because New York sports fans attribute the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup Championship in 1994 to this 33-year-old hockey Hall of Famer. Messier boldly led his team to “Hockey’s Promised Land.”
Messier’s lore got its genesis just prior to facing elimination in Game 6 of the 1994 NHL Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils. Messier audaciously predicted a Rangers’ victory in the same fashion as Babe Ruth prophesied his “called shot” and Broadway Joe Namath predicted his “Super Bowl III guarantee.”
Ensuring that his “prophecy” came to fruition, the Rangers’ long awaited hockey Messiah found the back of the net three times in the decisive third period to close out the series.
Messier cemented his legacy as a New York sports legend when the Rangers advanced to defeat the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals. It marked the New York franchise’s first title in its 54 year history. The Messiah’s goal in the second period of Game 7 turned out to be the deciding factor in the Rangers’ victory.
Winning Stanley Cup Trophies was not new to Messier. He remains the only player in NHL history to captain two different teams to championships. The 26-year NHL vet won five titles when he played in his hometown in Alberta, Canada with the Edmonton Oilers.
Also known as Moose because of his strength and aggressiveness on the ice, the rugged Hockey Hall of Famer did more than accumulate team awards.
A 15-time all-star, Messier also won the sport’s highest individual accolades during his lengthy NHL career. He won the Hart Trophy in both 1990 and 1992 as league MVP. He was also awarded the Conn-Smythe Trophy as MVP of the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals.
A crowd favorite, Messier pocketed two ESPY awards for Best NHL Player and for Outstanding Performance Under Pressure. The NHL acknowledged Messier’s storied career by naming one of its annual trophies the Mark Messier Leadership Award. And, Hockey News recognized him as #12 on its list of greatest players ever.
In 2007, the Hockey Hall of Fame inducted the Messiah in his first year of eligibility. The hockey legend’s staggering NHL career statistics guaranteed his spot. The former Ranger and Oiler retired as second all-time in regular season points (1,887), playoff points (295) and regular season games (1,756).
Though he may be remembered as one of hockey’s best players to never have won an Olympic medal, Mark Messier will never be forgotten as New York’s hockey Messiah.
Click on the purple cover above to safely download my FREE sports comic book New York Sports Icons.
MIKE – thee ultimate talking head on sports!