Mark Messier on Working for the Oilers

Jonathan Willis
August 18 2009 08:42AM

We talked a few days ago about a report by the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, a report which stated that Messier was interviewed this summer for the coaching position that eventually went to Pat Quinn.

According to Messier, that report wasn’t entirely accurate. Here in part is what Messier told CanWest News Service about finding a job in Edmonton:

" [Brooks’ report]’s not necessarily true. I talked to Kevin about working in the Oilers organization in some regard . . . not just this summer but for the last few years. We never really talked about the coaching, per se. We explored every possibility… "I had an ongoing dialogue with Kevin about coming back to Edmonton, but wasn't able to make any sort of commitment to them."

Messier goes on to explain that his family lives in New York, and that his son is going to start school there in the fall.

There isn’t anything overly surprising about the Messier quote; it often seemed during Kevin Lowe’s tenure as general manager that he was trying to recreate the glory-days Oilers, except in the front office instead of on the ice. Even ignoring Craig MacTavish, former Oilers employed by Lowe included Craig Simpson, Charlie Huddy, Kelly Buchberger, Dave Semenko, Frank Musil, Kent Nilsson and Mark Lamb. While I think that many – even most – of the men on that list are or were good at their jobs, it’s difficult not to be a little suspicious of the sheer volume of Lowe’s former teammates.

It would have been a strange break from Lowe’s common practice had he not been in touch with Messier.

It’s also worth noting that it wasn’t Lowe who couldn’t make a commitment to Messier – on the contrary, it was Messier who was unable to commit to working for Lowe. As for what “every possibility” entails, last summer there were rumours (reported by both Robin Brownlee and Joanne Ireland) that Craig Simpson was a strong candidate for Scott Howson’s vacant Assistant G.M. position. Lowe emphatically denied those, saying “that's craziness, total craziness. One minute he's going to be president, the next minute he's going to be assistant general manager. I don't know who started that, but there's nothing to it whatsoever.” I can’t find the link, but as I recall Brownlee stood by his report despite the denial.

I wonder if Messier was ever considered for that post.

And as much as I’d like to close with that line, I also want to be clear about something after the way the comments section reacted to the Messier as coach article: there’s nothing wrong with considering where a guy might fit into the organizational hierarchy. Problems only arise if he’s hired for something that he’s not yet qualified to do.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 The Menace
August 19 2009, 10:48AM
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@ roadrunner: You seem to hold the HHOF in pretty high regard. IMO, it has the least integrity out of any of the "major" HOFs. In no other HOF is it more about who you know rather than your accomplishments in your sport. The HHOF holds no prestige or honor, because you are just as likely to get in there because you played on a line with a superstar as you are from being a superstar. You could get a ham sandwich nominated if you could show that Foster Hewitt took a bite out it.

That said, I love Jim Matheson and we are lucky to have him in Edmonton. Not because he's in the HHOF, but because he's a great writer, with years of experience producing a great body of work.

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#52 Bettman4PM
August 20 2009, 02:18AM
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It drives a fan insane to see this team consider the likes of Messier or Simpson for management jobs when there have been far more qualified people there. Rick Dudley would have been great to have here, and he will no doubt help Atlanta out a great deal. Jay Feaster is also unemployed. Not that he would leave Detroit necessarily, but maybe even ask for permission to talk to Jim Nil.

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#53 Bettman4PM
August 20 2009, 02:21AM
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@ Bettman4PM:

make that 'more qualified people out there'

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