Tag Archives: Mark Messier


by desertdawg
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

Ah, Hockey..

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 throughou


by Ron Spence

A team falters all season – mired in controversy – gets it together, squeaks into the playoffs, and then makes a run for the Stanley Cup….

A player improves, flourishes, falters, and then gains redemption, when he returns to his roots – to the team where he started his career – as he makes a comeback….

Most of us love these stories. They remind us of different elements of our own lives.

The NHL is playing out variations on the second plot line.

Jeff Friesen is trying to resurrect his career in San Jose, and Jeff O’Neil is attempting to return to the NHL, with Carolina.

Friesen was chosen 11th overall, in the 1994 Draft. He played part of the 1994-95 season with the Sharks, and full seasons until 2000-01, when he was part of the Selanne trade, with the Ducks. During his time in San Jose, he scored 22, 26, 28 and 31 goals.

Friesen played one season in Anaheim, and two in New Jersey, where he helped to win the Stanley Cup – by scoring 10 playoff goals. He played two part seasons for the Capitals and Ducks –  following the lockout – and one full year for the Flames.

Last season, he played in only five games in the AHL, before hanging up his skates due to injury.

Jeff O’Neil was selected 5th overall by Hartford, in 1994.

He started playing for the Whalers in 1995-96, and scored 8, 14 and 19 goals, before 25 goals, and 41 goals in 2000-01. He helped Carolina to win the Cup, and by 2002-03, he had his third consecutive 30 goal season.

O’Neil was injured and had a subpar year, there was the lockout, and then he was traded to the Leafs. In Toronto, he played for two seasons, and his production slowly fell off, largely due to personal problems.

Petr Nedved’s colourful NHL career has been well documented. Sportsillustrated.cnn.com wrote.

The Sports Illustrated highlights didn’t mention Nedved’s unpopularity in New York – after he’d been sent there from St. Louis.

John Dellapina, of the Daily News, provides some details of Nedved’s first tenure in the Big Apple:

People are pulling for the east and west Jeffs.

“What a great story it would be if Jeff could continue his career with the team he started with, and contribute and the team has success,” the San Jose coach said. “But so many things have to happen prior to that.”

“He did nothing to hurt himself,” McLellan continued. “But did he climb the ladder to the top? No, he didn’t do that either.”

Bryan Thiel of the Bleacher Report wrote of O’Neil: “For his sake, I hope he can prove that he’s earned a spot on the Carolina Hurricanes roster. Or at least proves to the league that, after everything he’s been through, he can still play, and still be a factor, maybe prove that he’s still that mullet-wearing, hockey-loving kid he used to be, with the same passion anyone brings to the game—just now with a little added fire.”

Friesen and O’Neil are still at the Sharks’ and Hurricanes’ camps, but Nedved has been released by the Rangers.

He played well enough, but there weren’t any roster spots available.

But, had the talented Czech made the New York squad, it wouldn’t have been a feel good story.

Friesen and O’Neil had lost their way – due to injuries and personal problems – whereas, Nedved has always been just plain greedy.

He has never had any loyalty.

He wasn’t playing for redemption. He wanted more money.

Few have any sympathy for Petr Nedved. He has burned his many Karmatic bridges behind him, so to speak.


P.S. And now, Claude Lemieux wants to make a comeback. Well, at least it won’t be for the money.

The following from the newsobserver.com:


In 2000-01 Jeff O'Neill was the only player to lead his team in both goals and hits.

Alas, Jeff Friesen was in shape, but the San Jose Sharks were chockablocked full of forwards. It was the same sitaution, in a way, as Nedved’s in New York.

The San jose Mercury reports:

Word is obviously already out that the Sharks ended Jeff Friesen’s tryout without adding him to the roster. I won’t pretend this is breaking news.

In hindsight, there were hints along the way that was how this might wind up, but I know a lot of longtime Sharks fans were hoping it would work out differently.

Midway through training camp, for example, Todd McLellan said he recognized what a good story it would be if Friesen could continue his career where it began, if he’d be able to contribute to the Sharks’ season much the same way Dallas Drake did in his homecoming to Detroit a year ago. Then the coach added: “But it’s up to Jeff.”

Coaches are rarely forthcoming with detailed explanations when players are cut or benched. They’ve got their reasons, but it’s usually not in their best interest to spell them out.

Today, McLellan seemed to be following the traditional tack.

“We now went through a couple days where we sorted out as an orgazniation where we wanted to be and made a decision on the 23-man roster,” the coach said. “In fairness to Jeff, he had a good camp, he competed very well, he did everything he could. But for us to continue to hold onto him and to linger with hm wasn’t going to help him in his attempt to come back.”

GM Doug Wilson said earlier in the week that the staff was waiting for a medical update on Marcel Goc’s injury before having to make a decision on Friesen. McLellan said today that Goc was back on the ice for a light skate today, but that his possible availability was only “somewhat” of a factor in the Friesen decision.

I’m trying to reach Friesen. So far, no luck.”


by Ron Spence

The Canucks have been an NHL team for some 38 seasons.

During a third of the franchise’s history, they had a treadmill of captains.

One season, 1974-75, they were without a captain. In 1990-91, their three captains were Dan Quinn, Doug Lidster and Trevor Linden. Andre Boudrias (1975-76) and Chris Oddleifson (1976-77) wore “the C” for one season. Don Lever was captain for two campaigns (1977-79), Messier for three seasons (1997-2000), and Orland Kurtenbach (1970-74) for four seasons.

Of the three remaining captains – Stan Smyl, Trevor Linden, and Markus Naslund – whose captaincy was of the longest duration?

No, it’s not Trevor Linden. He was the captain for only six years (1991-97), and then gave up the captaincy to Mark Messier.

The answer is Stan Smyl.

Had I written – Who was the Captain for the most seasons, it would have technically been a tie. Both the Steamer (1982-90) and Markus (2000-2008) were captains for eight seasons.

But, Stan wore “the C” for more games. Markus was captain for eight seasons, but one of them was during the lockout year.

Also, Smyl wore “the C” for the 1982 run for the Stanley Cup – before he had been named the Canucks’ captain (In the spring of 1982, Kevin McCarthy had broken his ankle, and Number 14 had assumed his position.).

And, of Stan Smyl’s eight years, he was the captain for the full twelve months – handing over “the C” to Quinn, Lidster, and Linden just before the following season began.

Markus, on the other hand, became the captain on September 15, 2000, and gave it up when he signed with the Rangers this past July.

HOCKEY SALARIES: 1987 1988 1989 1990

by Ron Spence

When Bob Goodenough took over the NHLPA in February, 1990, he introduced salary disclosure. It’s something that’s taken for granted today.

How important was it?

Wayne Greztky’s father, Walter admitted to Terry Jones: “I knew Wayne was getting traded days before he did because Nelson Skalbania phoned me and asked, ‘How much does Wayne make?’

I said ‘Why?’

He said ‘Because Peter’s shopping him to the highest bidder.’

I said ‘No he’s not.’

He said ‘Yes he is.’

That was during the 1988 Stanley Cup finals – a year and a half before salary disclosure.

Of course Pocklington knew how much his star was making, as did Wayne and his father, but it wasn’t public knowledge like it is today.

Hockey Zone Plus has compiled a comprehensive database of some 2500 players who’ve played in the NHL from 1989 until the present.

Also, a hockey fan, who calls himself Ogopogo, has located copies of Sport magazine, which ceased publishing in 2000. In his issues were the: 1987, 1990, and 1991 NHL salaries.

I have included the Hockey Zone’s 1990 salaries, along with those listed by Sport.

I would note, however, that the two lists for 1990 aren’t always the same – some are calculated in American funds, some Canadian. But, I am including both, as they provide a good idea of NHL salaries at that time.

I would ask the reader to also note, that the years from 1987 until 1990, was the time in which Offer Sheets were first being presented.

SPORT – June, 1987

1. Wayne Gretzky – Oilers – $950,000 CDN – (converted to $717,250 USD)
2. Marcel Dionne – Rangers – $700,000
3. Mike Bossy – Islanders – $650,000
4. Bryan Trottier – Islanders – $625,000
5. Dave Taylor – Kings – $600,000
6. Mario Lemieux – Penguins – $550,000
5. Denis Potvin – Islanders – $550,000
8. Mike Liut – Whalers – $450,000
9. Rod Langway – Capitals – $400,000
10. Barry Pederson – Canucks – $350,000

SPORT – June, 1989

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2 million
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $1.5 million
3. Trottier – Islanders – $950,000
4. Taylor – Kings – $700,000
5. Dionne – Rangers – $600,000
6. Liut – Whalers – $550,000
7. Goulet – Nordiques – $510,000
8. Messier – Oilers – $510,000
9. Savard – Blackhawks – $500,000
10. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
11. Duguay – Kings – $475,000
12. Hawerchuk – Jets – $467,500
13. Stastny – Nordiques – $446,250
14. Carpenter – Bruins – $425,000
15. LaFontaine – Islanders – $425,000
16. Gustafsson – Capitals – $410,000
17. Stevens -Capitals – $400,000
18. Pederson – Canucks – $400,000
19. Bourque – Bruins – $380,000
20. Fuhr – Oilers – $340,000
20. Robinson – Canadiens – $340,000

SPORT – June, 1990

1. Gretzky – Kings – $2.72 milion
2. Lemieux – Penguins – $2.15 million
3. Chelios – Canadiens – $1 million
4. Trottier – Islanders – $975,000
5. Taylor – Kings – $950,000
6. Bourque – Bruins – $925,000
7. Messier – Oilers – $875,000
8. Nicholls – Rangers – $725,000
9. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000
10. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $600,000
11. Carson – Oilers – $585,000
12. Robinson – Kings – 550,000
13. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000
14. Dineen – Whalers – $510,000
15. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000
16. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000
17. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000
18. Coffey – Penguins – $485,000
19. Stastny – Nordiques – $480,000
20. Hawerchuk – Jets – $462,000

HOCKEY ZONE PLUS – 1989-90 (U.S. Dollars)

1. Lemieux – Penguins – $2,000,000

2. Gretzky – Kings – $1,720,000

3. Messier – Oilers – $855,271

4. Yzerman – Red Wings – $700,000

5. Trottier – Islanders – $ 575,000

6. Robinson – Kings – $550,000

7. Savard – Blackhawks – $525,000

8. Goulet – Nordiques/Blackhawks – $517,980

9. Bourque – Bruins – $500,000

10. Hextall – Flyers – $500,000

11. Wilson – Blackhawks – $500,000

12. Taylor – Kings- $500,000

13. Kerr – Flyers – $500,000

14. Chelios – Canadiens – $496,398

15. Coffey – Penguins – $450,000

16. Liut – Capitals – $445,000

17. Salming – Maple Leafs – $435,000

18. Kurri – Oilers – $431,650

19. Howe – Flyers – $425,000

20. Stastny – Nordiques – $414,384

21. MacInnis – Flames – $410,068

22. Sandstrom – Kings – $410,000

23. LaFontaine – Islanders – $400,000

24. Nicholls – Rangers – $400,000

25. Gartner – Capitals – $400,000

25. Carson – Oilers – $400,000