Tracers: Mess in '79

Lowetide
September 01 2011 07:01AM

In 1979 fall, Mark Messier (in photo) was one of the stories Edmonton Oiler fans were following. It was an off ice story--he was one of 5 players who didn't show up for rookie camp in mid-September.

The story goes like this:

The Kisio item is a footnote in history, but the Oilers could have used him; Kisio was a fine NHL player in the 1980's. Messier's reason for not showing up was a contract, or lack of one. Slats had offered him two contracts by mid-September but the young man said no both times.

Messier eventually got his contract, but was a wild young man who--despite enormous ability--found walking the straight and narrow a difficult thing. Eventually, Glen Sather sent him to the minors, the story is here

Legend has it the young Messier had a blast in Houston (as luck would have it, the "backwater" minor league city was anything but) and how much it humbled young 11 is still open to debate these long years later. Either way, Messier returned to the big club but things were only a little better by the time Terry Jones delivered a "D" in his mid-December report card.

In the 79-80 season, Messier scored 12 goals but it was obvious that he was going to be something special. A unique skill set--size, speed, determination, a mean streak, a wicked shot from the off wing--his skill set was as close to Gordie Howe as my generation is likely to see in our lifetime.

Mark Messier improved with lightning speed, reflected by his EV goal scoring totals in his first three NHL seasons. 10 one year, 19 the next and then 40 the year he turned 21. Amazing.

This team hasn't had that swagger since the day Messier was traded to the Rangers. I think this generation of Oilers youth has some of that same swagger--certainly Taylor Hall does--and one day soon the Oilers will be a team to be reckoned with for other NHL teams.

This season will see more additions from the department of youth. Can't wait.

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Lowetide has been one of the Oilogosphere's shining lights for over a century. You can check him out here at OilersNation and at lowetide.ca. He is also the host of Lowdown with Lowetide weekday mornings 10-noon on TSN 1260.
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#1 Ferg
September 01 2011, 07:10AM
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What you talkin bout lowetide...

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#2 TheGunnShow
September 01 2011, 07:37AM
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Whenever I see Taylor Hall getting compared to Messier, I just want to scream joyously from the top of a mountain, because it's true.

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#3 michael
September 01 2011, 07:43AM
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Watchin Hall kast night on the news hawkin WJHC tickets. He just reminds me of of Messier?Anderson. He has that fire in his eyes. He has that know factor. He knows he can beat the guy defending. He knows he is faster. He knows he is better than his oponent. And not just him. Omark has it. Eberle has it. MP has it.Its not arrogance. Its not something you can measure, quantify of put a statistic to. These kids have the mindset to take that next step. As much as I hate to say it.These kids are and will be the force to be reckoned with in the next decade. The wild card. How good can RNH be? Lander? Hartsy?Pitlick?The goal was to change the culture of this organization. I think we can say that that has happened. scary to think how good these kids will be in 2 years.

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#4 Woodguy
September 01 2011, 07:49AM
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Mark Messier improved with lightning speed, reflected by his EV goal scoring totals in his first three NHL seasons. 10 one year, 19 the next and then 40 the year he turned 21. Amazing.

It's interesting that Messier's numbers also took flight the year that his cousin Don Murdoch left the team.

81/82 - the year Messier scored 50, Murdoch was in the Wings organization.

Messier obviously would have blossomed as the gifted NHLer he was, but getting his cousin away from him certainly led to less off ice distractions.

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#5 jdubbs
September 01 2011, 07:50AM
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Hall does remind me of Mess, and seeing Hall's latest interviews of him around 200lbs.... he is a beast now. i don't think anything will stand in his way this year, he is the key leader for this team already...

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#6 michael
September 01 2011, 07:53AM
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last time I saw messier was on the news doing something witht he playoffs and a family. The point. He looked better now than he did in that photo you posted. chripes the guy at 52 is in Better shape now than he was 30 years ago. If it wasnt for his back he probably would still be playing. The man was born to do one thing. Play hockey.

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#7 The Towel Boy
September 01 2011, 07:58AM
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I could reaaaalllly go for some Lay's potato chips.

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#8 WheatNOil
September 01 2011, 08:08AM
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Based on the article (and other similar stories), Messier had some growing up to do when he first arrived at the NHL as a rookie. The man who became one of the best captains in the NHL (IMHO) did not arrive as an 18 year old fully matured.

I think we ought to do a better job of keeping that in mind as there becomes more and more intense media / internet scrutiny on younger and younger NHL hopefuls. Hall, Eberle, and MPS have shown immense maturity already, but that is exceptional, not to be the expected norm. As we go into the 2011/12 year with the Much Heralded Trio as Sophomores, we need to be careful not to go Gagner on them. They're young, they're psychological personalities have not yet been solidified, and they're learning. These guys have the potential to be unbelievable... so long as they are not crushed with the pressure before they're mentally able to take it.

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#9 Charlie huddy
September 01 2011, 08:10AM
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I think this upcoming season is the first in a long time that hasnt filled me with stress and a mild case of depression as it approached.

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#10 WheatNOil
September 01 2011, 08:12AM
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Damn it! "they're psychological" = "their psychological"

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#11 Milli
September 01 2011, 08:18AM
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Hall reminds me so much of Mess, just in his demeanor, confindence and SWAGGER! I love it, this kid is gonna be great and soon. It is so much fun to start to look at the talent pool we are developing. Man, I'm looking out at snow covered peaks in the mountains this morning, HOCKEY is COMING!!!!

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#12 rubbertrout
September 01 2011, 08:56AM
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Let's let Hall be Hall. He's obviously talented, confident and driven but he's also his own player.

Comparing guys to those from history with little to go on but the first season in the NHL is a bit premature.

The early returns look good however and I'm excited as to how he will develop.

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#13 Clarkenstein
September 01 2011, 08:56AM
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Not sure where Mess's hand is in that first pic with Gary Coleman but they both seem to be enjoying it!!

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#14 Shane
September 01 2011, 09:39AM
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@Clarkenstein

Yea what a wierd photo.

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#15 positivebrontefan
September 01 2011, 09:55AM
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I work with a guy who went to High school with Mess, and while he didn't have any trouble with him there were plenty of kids who got to know Mess the "elbow you in the face as he walked past you" bully. That worked when he was on the ice but he apparently was a real prick when it came to how he treated others back then. I like to think he grew out of that, but thankfully that attitude stayed enough to be a force on the ice.

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#16 @Oilanderp
September 01 2011, 09:57AM
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[insert obligatory joke about the stubby here]

Sorry that headline pic screams for it.

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#17 Talbot17
September 01 2011, 10:01AM
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Mess- A sexual predator? KIDDING

although that picture does beg to differ... scares me to think what else went on in those dressing rooms LOL

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#18 madjam
September 01 2011, 10:06AM
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Plenty of time to get in on live free draft on CBS Sports for $5000. 00 today . Just drafted Taylor Hall as one of my wingers .

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#19 Dan the Man
September 01 2011, 10:08AM
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That photo of Mess with Gary Coleman is an absolute classic!

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#20 jake
September 01 2011, 10:11AM
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Charlie huddy wrote:

I think this upcoming season is the first in a long time that hasnt filled me with stress and a mild case of depression as it approached.

Lol, so true.

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#21 justDOit
September 01 2011, 10:38AM
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The opening pic of Mess and Coleman is great, but I really like the one of Howe running the dman into the ref, as he clings to the screen.

But how would that picture have been taken? It couldn't be through the wire screen, and the cameraman wasn't on the ice... ??

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#22 Quicksilver ballet
September 01 2011, 11:02AM
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One of the differences between Taylor Hall and Mark Messier is that Hall knows how much of an impact he will have on this club right from day one. Messier didn't realized the impact he could have till around that 82-83 season, 5 yrs into his pro career. After getting swept by the Islanders in 83, Messier may have benifited the most from that loss.

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#23 nathan
September 01 2011, 11:16AM
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Messier/Hall: If he can't get around you will go through you.

Gretzky/RNH: Two moves ahead of you.

Now that THE comparison is out of the way, of course they'll be different players and might not be generation talents like Messier and Gretzky, but the balance of a Hall and an RNH together and on separate lines could be the guts of this team just as it was for that team.

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#24 madjam
September 01 2011, 11:17AM
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T.Hall projected to score 31 goals by CBS Sports pool . Will it be higher or lower ?

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#25 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
September 01 2011, 11:54AM
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@nathan

I think you're right. I can't wait to see what Hall, Nuge and Ebs can get going when they're on the same line...

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#26 pelhem grenville
September 01 2011, 12:02PM
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@nathan

Gretzky/RNH...

bite your tongue

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#27 Talbot17
September 01 2011, 12:17PM
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@ madjam

Higher, i see 35 goals this year , 18 on the PP

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#28 Westcoastoil
September 01 2011, 12:23PM
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Check out the equipment hanging in his locker - wrt RB's article on concussions in the league now

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#29 OILERSORDEATH
September 01 2011, 12:48PM
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Great post! Hall's gonna be a star in this league no doubt. But equally excited about Eberle, Omark, and of course Magnus. If any of Taylor Hall starts rubbing of on MSP with his size he's gonna be a beast as well. Dont let me forget RNH but I think he wouls be better going back to Junior and tear it up there.

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#30 JL
September 01 2011, 02:03PM
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Silly Oiler fans,

Team to be reckoned with haha, Losing breeds losers... bottom three finish agian. Mix in a few busts ,prospects wanting to leave in due time, and in a few years you guys will still be telling people to wait and see

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#31 justDOit
September 01 2011, 02:16PM
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JL wrote:

Silly Oiler fans,

Team to be reckoned with haha, Losing breeds losers... bottom three finish agian. Mix in a few busts ,prospects wanting to leave in due time, and in a few years you guys will still be telling people to wait and see

Gee - thanks JL! I didn't see it before, but now that you mention it, I can see that you're totally right in your assessment that losing breeds losers. Just like in Chicago, Pittsburg (twice) and Washington.

Moving along with your theory, then finishing 9th in the conference every year will breed mediocrity, and losing in the playoffs will breed high-ranking losers.

Seeing that you're so wise, maybe you should also suggest which team we should start cheering for. Maybe the same team that you cheer for? Please tell us!

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#32 Dan the Man
September 01 2011, 02:58PM
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justDOit wrote:

The opening pic of Mess and Coleman is great, but I really like the one of Howe running the dman into the ref, as he clings to the screen.

But how would that picture have been taken? It couldn't be through the wire screen, and the cameraman wasn't on the ice... ??

It was a little before my time but I'm guessing there would have been a photographers hole in the wire screen just like there is now in the plexi-glass.

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#33 JL
September 01 2011, 03:09PM
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@justDOit

Islanders, Atl, Columbus, ring a bell ?

I dont see a future Crosby,Ovi, Toews in your lineup.

Feel free to cheer for the Penguins with me. Im just calling it like i see it.

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#34 justDOit
September 01 2011, 03:28PM
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@JL

First of all, your comments contained no real analysis or insight, just slander and name-calling - so no, you're not 'calling it like you see it'. As if I said that yer Mom has to have it up the chocolate starfish with a hot 7-Up bottle. Of course, I would NEVER say anything like that, but just if I did - calling it like I see it.

So why read Oiler articles then? Just so you can hurt our widdle feelings? We've had more trolls around here than you, and much better ones too! Keep trying.

FYI: I don't see a future Crosby in the Pens' lineup either!

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#35 JL
September 01 2011, 03:39PM
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@justDOit

You have the IQ of a walnut.

I live out here, and read the forums from time to time.

Good luck with 10 year rebuild

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#36 geoilersgist
September 01 2011, 03:47PM
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@JL

If you're not a fan then don't comment. Go find a Penguins blog to read.

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#37 book¡e
September 01 2011, 03:49PM
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Messier will never amount to anything in this league because the Oilers have wrecked his development by bringing him up too early. It's Rob Schremp all over again.

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#38 The Other John
September 01 2011, 04:57PM
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Taylor Hall was a MUCH better prospect at 18 than Messier. RNH is nowhere near as good a prospect at 17 as Gretzky

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#39 OutDoorRink
September 01 2011, 06:18PM
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"FYI: I don't see a future Crosby in the Pens' lineup either!"

Future Crosby? I don't even see a Crosby in the pens lineup.

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#40 Winnie Cooper
September 01 2011, 06:29PM
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I spent about 5 minutes trying to decide whether that's a towel or a hankie Messier has around his waist, and another 10 minutes trying to check out his junk underneath. Now my eyes hurt too much to read the article.

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#41 Wanyes bastard child
September 01 2011, 07:39PM
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Winnie Cooper wrote:

I spent about 5 minutes trying to decide whether that's a towel or a hankie Messier has around his waist, and another 10 minutes trying to check out his junk underneath. Now my eyes hurt too much to read the article.

I reaaly hope your a girl...

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#43 Senator Theo
September 01 2011, 09:39PM
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I was pretty young in 1979 when that top photo was taken - which one is Messier?

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#44 Wanyes bastard child
September 01 2011, 11:01PM
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Lowetide wrote:

Lol. I remember the first time I saw that picture, it just looked strange. Still does.

But did you spend 10 minutes looking for his junk?

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#45 Dog Train
September 01 2011, 11:15PM
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Being a younger Oilers fan, I hope to someday be able to reference the little things like watching Eberle at the World Juniors or Taylor Hall in the Memorial Cup and hopefully be a part of some great memories. I'm proud that the Oilers have such a history of success but not being around to live through any of it, I can't wait until I have my own memories to tell future generations.

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#46 Mumbai Max
September 04 2011, 05:02PM
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@WheatNOil

your 'psychological personality' is solidified by around the age of 8....understand the point though...still plenty of maturing to do...

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#47 hatrick swayze
September 08 2011, 08:37PM
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that picture scares the crap outta me mess is to happy

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