Mark Messier on Working for the Oilers

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.

  • Hippy

    I seem to recall a lot of talk about Messier staying in the game after he retired. His interest in this isn't new and I for one think if her approached management with the tenacity he approached the game of hockey, the "moose" would be a valuable employee on any NHL team. Maybe not coach, but in some capacity. Director of Player personnel? I am sure there are a bunch of people on this site that would gladly swap out Prendergast for Messier.

    Nepotism and favoritism are in every industry. For some reason people here hate that it happens. Look around the league, every team has former players in new roles.

  • Hippy

    "I can’t find the link, but as I recall Brownlee stood by his report despite the denial."

    Still do. It only became "craziness" when Simpson said "No thanks" because he wanted to stay in the broadcast booth.