Witness respect, recognition

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

NEW YORK -- The last time the Oilers attended a jersey retirement ceremony, they stunk the joint out so badly they had to fumigate Paul Coffey's No. 7.

It was a 4-3 loss that head coach Craig MacTavish has no trouble calling their single worst performance of the season.

Something about sitting on the bench for half an hour watching former Oilers getting teary-eyed that takes the fight out of a team.

"Normally it does affect the team that's retiring the jersey more so than it affects the opposition," said MacTavish, whose Oilers will be on the other side of the banner at Mark Messier's retirement ceremony tonight at Madison Square Garden.

"I can't explain it, but experience tells me it will affect the Rangers more adversely than it will us.

"Hopefully we can turn the game around that we lost against Phoenix because we weren't sharp at all in that one."

MacTavish could leave his club in the dressing room during the ceremony, scheduled to last 38 minutes, but expected to take much longer because of time it'll take an emotional Messier to compose himself. But he says the thought never crossed his mind.

"I think it's important that the players see this. I remember ceremonies when I was a player playing for the Bruins - it's a good memory to have. Especially with Mark being an Oiler for so many years and being such a prominent figure in so many conversations in our dressing room about leadership.

"I think it's important that the players are there to witness the respect and the recognition a player of that stature will receive."


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