Contrary to popular belief, mark messier was never a Vancouver Canuck. You have to backcheck at least three times before you can call yourself a Canuck (or have your name printed in upper case)
The truth is messier really only played his heart out for two teams: The Edmonton Oilers and The New York Rangers. For the Canucks, he just played his time out (My pal Ron Spence said at the time, “We wanted the Captain and ended up with Tenille.”).
The other truth is, that messier‘s teams…he was often called the greatest leader in hockey…did not make the playoffs the last nine years that he played. Yes, he won some Cups, but I have a long memory. I’m even a bit of an old fart (hell, yesterday, I walked around the house for half a day with my shorts on backwards) and I clearly remember that Oiler dynasty in the 80s. Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri, Paul Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Grant Fuhr were not led by mark messier. He was a cog in the great superstar wheel managed by Glenn Sather.
Yes, he won a cup after Gretz left, and we can all remember the heroic picture of him limping onto the ice after Esa Tikanen scored a winning goal. That one team was led by messier. But check out the roster. There were other Hall of Famers on that team as well.
The same is true of the ‘94 Rangers. There were a couple of other Hall of Famers on that team…and it was Mike Richter and Brian Leetch who won that seventh game in Madison Square Garden. messier and keenan could gave stayed home.
Markus Nazlund, who many people say was the greatest Canuck (I’ll say one of…but not THE greatest) always said that messier taught the team how to win. It’s a great line and a fine sentiment, but we didn’t make the playoffs even once while messier floated around the perimeter of the play. How did he lead…by living in Washington State? By being given special days off? By being handed the captaincy when we had one of the two best Captains to ever play in Vancouver in Trevor Linden (and a tip of the brandy snifter to Stan Smyl as the other great cappy). mark messier the great leader?
Sounds more like the Eric Lindros Leadership Correspondent Course.
So Nazzy is a Ranger now. I have no problem with Nazlund by the way. It’s just that you had to watch some Ingmar Bergman films to understand him. Happiness is not an elemental part of the Swedish makeup. I loved the guy, and I’m pretty sure he loved Vancouver.
It was just so damned hard and depressing at the end.
I wish him well as a Ranger, just not tonight…and also, not if we meet them in the finals.
To the game: the first period is notable for three breakaways. I would not have guessed a Tom Renney coached team to be vulnerable to odd man rushes let alone breakaways. Everyone who has ever played the game knows that when everything is going well you see nothing but net. Wellwood makes a terrific move, backhand to forehand, and slides it in, making Lundquist look worse than ordinary. Mason Raymond, who’s speed continues to amaze as I write this, sees nothing but goalie pads.
And a guy like Burrows, who makes some of the prettiest dekes in all of hockey, briefly looks up and sees Lundquist leaning right, so he fires a low shot to the left stick side and catches a some glory.
Good period for the Canucks.
Nazlund is mentioned three times, curiously all defensive plays. The MSG announcers speak highly of Nazzy’s six goals and eight assists so far. Fourteen points? If he was putting up low numbers like that in Vancouver, there would be demands to re-instate capital punishment.
Three things in the second period.
One thing , for me anyway, it shows the difference between Luongo and Lundquist. As far as every Ranger fan and commentator is concerned, Lundquist is THE goalie. THE Vezina winner. THE heir to Marty Brodeur.
But you tell me. Would Roberto Luongo pull himself, even though he was down by four goals, when his team was facing a five on three? I don’t care how bad he was playing (and Lundqusit couldn’t be faulted on the actual goals) Luongo would not have left his team with a cold goalie in a five on three situation.
Shame on Lundquist.
Two, Wellwood is a keeper. No more argument. He doesn’t score every time. But there is no better puck handler out there tonight. Too much evidence. Sign him to an extension now Mr. Gillis. Now my grandson, Drew Baird loves Wellwood but wonders whether we should wait until he cools off…and then sign him cheap. Good point. But I do think that Wellwood has the best hands on the Canucks roster…maybe the best hands since a guy who wore number 19 for us for quite a few years.
Three, that replay goal was in…every Canuck fan knows this. But we are not Edmonton Oiler fans. We don’t whine about the reffing. We are Canucks. Demitra responds to the rip off by putting in a beaut off the post, chasing Mrs. Lundquist from the nets.
The period ends with O’Brien mouthing off to McCreary. I don’t blame Shane here. He knows the Ranger player fell on Luongo on purpose. He mounts the guy, gives him a couple of dry ones for his trouble and skates to the box. Kill the four minutes boys and show ‘em who’s in charge.
The third period…and it’s cat and mouse. The good news:
We’re the cat.
The Rangers manage to make it interesting as Markus makes a nice pass to Callahan and even then, Roberto almost makes the Ringling Brothers save on the goal.
But even Shane O’Brien’s fifth penalty can’t help out the Broadway Blues tonight and Daniel Sedin tips in an empty netter with 2.3 seconds remaining.
We leave the New York area with three out of four points…first place in the division…with a game coming up against the only team that might say otherwise:
Minnesota in November.
The Dawg’s Three Stars:
1) Burrows…every time he shot the puck, Lundquist wasn’t ready.
2) Luongo…every time the Rangers really needed a goal, he stoned ‘em.
3) Callahan…have to admit, kid’s a player.
Unsung Hero: Wellwood, started us off and dazzled us throughout.