Mark Messier isn’t the greatest player in the history of the NHL, but if you made a short list of the most complete players to ever lace their skates in the league, The Moose would be on it along with the great Gordie Howe, who set the bar as a hockey Frankenstein several generations before Mess first pulled on the silks of the Edmonton Oilers in 1979.
For me, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux are the most talented players ever to grace the NHL in any generation. When it comes to the total package — the ability to skate, score and play a physical game — Messier and Howe are one-two, in that order, of the guys who could play it anyway you wanted and beat you for fun. Messier, like Howe before him, didn’t much care how he got the better of opponents, only that he did. Whatever it took.

Mark Messier

Center
Born Jan 18th, 1961 — Edmonton, ALTA
Height 6.01 — Weight 205 [185 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by Edmonton Oilers
Round 3 #48 overall 1979 NHL Entry Draft
BY THE NUMBERS
Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
TOI
ATOI
1979-80
19
75
12
21
33
-10
120
113
10.6
1980-81
20
72
23
40
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63
-12
102
179
12.8
1981-82
21
78
50
38
88
21
119
235
21.3
1982-83
22
77
48
58
106
19
72
237
20.3
1983-84
23
73
37
64
101
40
165
219
16.9
1984-85
24
55
23
31
54
8
57
136
16.9
1985-86
25
63
35
49
84
36
68
201
17.4
1986-87
26
77
37
70
107
21
73
208
17.8
1987-88
27
77
37
74
111
21
103
182
20.3
1988-89
28
72
33
61
94
-5
130
164
20.1
1989-90
29
79
45
84
129
19
79
211
21.3
1990-91
30
53
12
52
64
15
34
109
11.0
1991-92
31
79
35
72
107
31
76
212
16.5
1992-93
32
75
25
66
91
-6
72
215
11.6
1993-94
33
76
26
58
84
25
76
216
12.0
1994-95
34
46
14
39
53
8
40
126
11.1
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1995-96
35
74
47
52
99
29
122
241
19.5
1996-97
36
71
36
48
84
12
88
227
15.9
1997-98
37
82
22
38
60
-10
58
139
15.8
1998-99
38
59
13
35
48
-12
33
97
13.4
1333
22:36
1999-00
39
66
17
37
54
-15
30
131
13.0
1399
21:12
2000-01
40
82
24
43
67
-25
89
131
18.3
1578
19:14
2001-02
41
41
7
16
23
-1
32
69
10.1
759
18:31
2002-03
42
78
18
22
40
-2
30
117
15.4
1453
18:38
2003-04
43
76
18
25
43
3
42
104
17.3
1253
16:29
12 yrs
EDM
851
392
642
1034
173
1122
2194
17.9
10 yrs
NYR
698
250
441
691
74
667
1658
15.1
5043
18:12
3 yrs
VAN
207
52
110
162
-37
121
367
14.2
2732
21:52
1 yr
CNS
47
1
10
11
-6
58
55
1.8
Career
1756
694
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1193
1887
210
1910
4219
16.4
7775
19:20

PLAYOFFS

Season
Age
Tm
GP
G
A
PTS
+/-
PIM
S
S%
1979-80
19
3
1
2
3
2
2
11
9.1
1980-81
20
9
2
5
7
1
13
24
8.3
1981-82
21
5
1
2
3
-4
8
17
5.9
1982-83
22
15
15
6
21
11
14
50
30.0
1983-84
23
19
8
18
26
9
19
63
12.7
1984-85
24
18
12
13
25
13
12
56
21.4
1985-86
25
10
4
6
10
1
18
23
17.4
1986-87
26
21
12
16
28
13
16
62
19.4
1987-88
27
19
11
23
34
9
29
42
26.2
1988-89
28
7
1
11
12
-1
8
23
4.3
1989-90
29
22
9
22
31
5
20
47
19.1
1990-91
30
18
4
11
15
2
16
41
9.8
1991-92
31
11
7
7
14
-4
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6
27
25.9
1993-94
33
23
12
18
30
14
33
75
16.0
1994-95
34
10
3
10
13
-11
8
26
11.5
1995-96
35
11
4
7
11
-10
16
41
9.8
1996-97
36
15
3
9
12
2
6
43
7.0
Career
236
109
186
295
52
244
671
16.2

AWARDS

1983-84 Conn Smythe Trophy
1989-90 Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award
1991-92 Hart Memorial Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award

NOTABLE

Messier, a big, raw-boned, homegrown talent when he broke in with the Oilers, won five Stanley Cups in Edmonton and another with the New York Rangers. He sits third in NHL career scoring with 1,887 regular season career points, 1,034 of those with the Oilers. The former Oiler captain is a two-time Hart Trophy winner as league MVP and a Conn Smythe Trophy winner. Messier’s accomplishments and his numbers speak for themselves and will stand the test of time. But there was more, much more, to No. 11.
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Messier could do it all, but it’s the snap factor that separates him and Howe from the ranks of many of the other all-time greats at the top of the NHL’s career scoring list. He could dominate opponents on the ice with speed and skill or beat them in the alley, if that’s what it took. Messier would happily knock your teeth down your throat using whatever means he had at his disposal in any given situation — fist, stick, elbow. It didn’t matter. You can see some of Messier’s handiwork here. More here against the New York Islanders.
That nasty streak aside, Messier also had both the desire and ability to lead. He did it with actions and words, with and without the captain’s C on his chest. Whether it was great goal, a punishing hit, a well-placed elbow or that famous glare, Messier knew how to get his message across. He did whatever he had to do and said whatever he had to say — that went for teammates as well as opponents. His best season? That was 1989-90, with Gretzky gone, when he had 129 points, won the Hart Trophy and led the Oilers to their fifth Cup as team captain.
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THE STORY

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the leaders that I’ve ever had do it as well as Mark did that particular year,” coach John Muckler said of Messier leading the push for the 1990 Cup. Of course, by the time of Messier’s called shot in the 1994 playoffs as a member of the New York Rangers, he was being heralded as one of the greatest team leaders in any sport. The seeds of that were sown in Edmonton.
“You learn from all the people you come in contact with and, of course, through winning, you gain experience and, unfortunately, through losing you gain experience as well,” Messier said. “You start putting all these things together as your career evolves and pretty soon you figure out what works and what doesn’t and that’s what experience does. Pretty soon, you realize that relationships are important and learn to cultivate those and extract the best you can out of everybody and I think that is what leadership is.”
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Simply put, Messier figured out “what works” early in his career and put his own dazzling and sometimes vicious spin on it during his prime years, which came during his 12 unforgettable seasons with the Oilers. Nobody, and I mean nobody, competed with more passion and purpose, or had more fun doing it, than The Moose. Watching Messier skate out with the Stanley Cup at Rexall Place one more time during his jersey retirement ceremony with tears running down his face was, like the player, unforgettable.
This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up.

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