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Who is Mark Messier?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 23, 2024
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Mark Douglas Messier, born 18 January 1961, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, is known as one of the best hockey players ever to play in the National Hockey League (NHL). He is also known as one of the best leaders in hockey and has led six Stanley Cup victories during his career. Mark Messier led the Edmonton Oilers to five Stanley Cups and the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in more than 50 years.

Mark Messier grew up in the Edmonton area with his father, mother, one brother, and two sisters. Both Messier's brother, Paul, and his father, Doug, played pro hockey in Edmonton. Messier was only seven years old when he skated with his father on the hockey rink ice after practices. He was ten years old when he played on a pee wee hockey team and even at such a young age, was already earning a reputation as an "intense" player.

Doug Messier coached many of his son's teams during Mark Messier's teen years. By age 16, Mark Messier became a team captain and began making the dressing room talks to the team, a task his father used to do. By age 17, Messier earned enough in a half season of professional hockey in the World Hockey Association (WHA)league in Edmonton to afford to rent an apartment on his own as well as own two cars.

Messier began playing hockey in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers when he was 18 years old. He scored his first NHL goal in his second game and his first NHL assist in his fourth game. The pairing of Messier with hockey high-scorer Wayne Gretzky made for one of the best center duos in NHL history.

Messier was first put in to play center with Wayne Gretzky in the 1983 and 1984 season. The Edmonton Oilers won eight games in a row. By the end of that season, the Oilers not only had their best record ever, they were the best in the league and won the Stanley Cup.

Messier also led the Oilers to four more Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990. He moved to New York to play for the New York Rangers in 1991 when he was 30 years old. The Rangers had not won a Stanley Cup in over 50 years. When Messier won New York the Stanley Cup against the Vancouver Canucks in the 1993 and 1994 season, the nickname "The Moose" that he'd had in Edmonton was changed by New Yorkers to "The Messiah."

For the most part, Messier did not meet the Vancouver Canucks' high expectations when he played three years in Vancouver from 1997 to 2000 as he was older and more prone to injury. Messier returned to the New York Rangers and played there from 2000 to 2004. "The Captain" resigned from the NHL 12 September 2005 at the age of 44. Mark Messier's number 11 hockey jersey was raised to the rafters in retirement at Madison Square Garden in New York on 12 January 2006 during Mark Messier Night to honor one of hockey's all time greatest stars.

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