SUN Hockey Pool

Tour of tears finale

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

TORONTO -- Mark Messier stood behind the podium as did the others before him in the incredible Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2007. But instead of pulling his speech out of his pocket, he pulled out the Kleenex.

"I brought these just in case," he said.

"You never know."

He went to the tissues like a pitcher to the rosin bag. Eight times in all.

But for the longest time there it looked like he was going to do what he didn't do as he sobbed his way through banner raising nights in New York and Edmonton.

He was going great for 2:58.

There was backstage betting about who would be the most emotional this night, Messier or builder Jim Gregory.

It wasn't even a contest.

Gregory, who looked like he was about to bawl when he was being introduced by commissioner Gary Bettman, made it until the last two words of his speech before he came undone.

Messier topped that. He congratulated Gregory for making it into the Hall of Fame as he began.

"I finally found somebody who was crying more than me this weekend, so congratulations," he said.

No. 11 began better even than Al MacInnis and Ron Francis, who didn't break down at all, or Scott Stevens who got choked up mentioning his mom and dad and again talking about falling in love and getting married to his high school sweetheart.

"I got off the plane and driving to the hotel, I had the window down and stopped at a red light," Messier said of his arrival here.

"I was in a pensive mood. Deep in thought. All of a sudden there was an older gentleman staring at my face, peering in my window. 'Messier, eh? You're here for that oldtimers game!' "

It was only moments later, however, that Messier had to take his first pause and first big gulp of air referring to the importance of the weekend.

His third pause and first Kleenex came when he mentioned his uncle who was an inspiration to his career.

By the time he mentioned what it means to be a Canadian, it was his fifth pause and second Kleenex.

After mentioning his first coach, 89-year-old C.J. Lindsay from Portland where his dad Doug played pro and also mentioned coach Ray Lemaire in Edmonton, the Kleenex came out for the third time.

"Starting in Edmonton, obviously it has been well chronicled what an amazing time it was, the friendships and people who surrounded those teams ..."

After mentions of Glen Sather and Wayne Gretzky, the Kleenex came out a fourth and fifth time.

He talked about his team-mates who are in the Hall of Fame. Then he got to the one who isn't. And that's when the tears started streaming.

"A special thanks to the guy who rode shotgun ... Glenn Anderson ..."

Then he sobbed.

"I wouldn't be standing here without you, Glenn, so thank you," he finally managed to get out the words about his old linemate.

Messier ended up talking about his family.

"In 1981, the NHL got introduced to the Messiers," he said of his first all-star game. "We called ourselves the Beverly Hillbillies back then. We were 25 strong. Now we're all here all these years later plus grandkids.

"Mom and dad were an inspiration," he said as the tissue came out again. "I learned more at the kitchen table talking the game than anywhere. Dad, you are a true leader."

Another swipe with the tissue and an interruption to compose himself, his longest pause of the night, Messier talked about his brother Paul.

"If there was anybody I wish could have experienced what I had or traded places, I wish it would have been you."

And suddenly he was done.

Mark Messier's tour of tears was over.

He's now in the Hockey Hall of Fame to be remembered forever. Like the nights in New York and Edmonton, this night is going to be remembered for a long time, too.

MARK MESSIER

CAREER STATISTICS:

REGULAR SEASON

Year, Team, GP, G, A, Pts

1979-80, Edm 75 12 21 33

1980-81, Edm 72 23 40 63

1981-82, Edm 78 50 38 88

1982-83, Edm 77 48 58 106

1983-84, Edm 73 37 64 101

1984-85, Edm 55 23 31 54

1985-86, Edm 63 35 49 84

1986-87, Edm 77 37 70 107

1987-88, Edm 77 37 74 111

1988-89, Edm 72 33 61 94

1989-90, Edm 79 45 84 129

1990-91, Edm 53 12 52 64

1991-92, NYR 79 35 72 107

1992-93, NYR 75 25 66 91

1993-94, NYR 76 26 58 84

1994-95, NYR 46 14 39 53

1995-96, NYR 74 47 52 99

1996-97, NYR 71 36 48 84

1997-98, Van 82 22 38 60

1998-99, Vcr 59 13 35 48

1999-00, Vcr 66 17 37 54

2000-01, NYR 82 24 43 67

2001-02, NYR 41 7 16 23

2002-03, NYR 78 18 22 40

2003-04, NYR 76 18 25 43

Totals 1756 694 1193 1887

PLAYOFFS

Year, Team GP G A Pts

1979-80, Edm 3 1 2 3

1980-81, Edm 9 2 5 7

1981-82, Edm 5 1 2 3

1982-83, Edm 15 15 6 21

1983-84, Edm-x 19 8 18 26

1984-85, Edm-x 18 12 13 25

1985-86, Edm 10 4 6 10

1986-87, Edm-x 21 12 16 28

1987-88, Edm-x 19 11 23 34

1988-89, Edm 7 1 11 12

1989-90, Edm-x 22 9 22 31

1990-91, NYR 18 4 11 15

1991-92, NYR 11 7 7 14

1993-94, NYR-x 23 12 18 30

1995, NYR 10 3 10 13

1995-96, NYR 11 4 7 11

1996-97, NYR 15 3 9 12

Totals 236 109 186 295

x -- won Stanley Cup.

AWARDS

Hart Memorial Trophy -- 1990, 1992.

Conn Smythe Trophy -- 1984.

Lester B. Pearson Trophy -- 1990, 1992.


Videos

Photos