Memories of Mess

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

The simple act of raising a banner and watching Mark Messier blubber isn't really what the next two days is all about.

As much as anything it's about sharing memories. We all have so many.

Most of us of a certain age remember the Oilers first year in the NHL and the legendary story about when Messier went to the wrong airport to catch a plane for a road trip and Glen Sather left him a ticket to fly to Houston to join the Apollos of the Central Hockey League.

Some remember Mark, the kid, sitting on the bench in Long island as the Oilers played the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup for the first time and leading 'The Edmonton Boys Choir' in singing Here We Go, Oilers, Here We Go.

Many remember Paul Coffey blowing the whistle on him when Messier claimed innocence. "It was Messier who started it."

There are 16,000-plus who were there when Messier registered a 50-goal season for the Oilers in his third year in the league and set an NHL record for artistic impression as he turned the entire ice surface into his own personal dance floor. It was like he was a balloon and somebody had just let out the air.

You may remember when he won his first Stanley Cup. He was crying. Not only had he won the Cup, he was such a force they gave him the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP to go with it.

Do you remember the words of Jacques Demers when Messier played such a huge part in putting away the Detroit Red Wings in a playoff series?

"Too much Messier."

You remember so many different players talking about Messier getting 'The Look' before a game and knowing all would be well.

You must remember Messier hitting Gretzky early in a playoff series after he'd been sold to Los Angeles to deliver the message to his team-mates, and I remember sitting by the pool at a hotel in Los Angeles in the middle of the series when he confessed that going against Gretzky was "the toughest thing I've ever had to do."

And no doubt you remember when a year later, Messier, now the captain, led the Oilers to their fifth and final Cup together without Gretzky and then dedicating it to Gretzky.

I remember being called to visit the St. Albert home of his parents on Christmas Eve when Mark sat with his father Doug and told me they'd come to the end of the line with owner Peter Pocklington.

I remember sitting on the bench alone with Messier after a practice at Maple Leaf Gardens at the Canada Cup when he gave me the story that he'd asked to be traded.

We all have our memories. And, yet, there are those we somehow managed to forget.

Like this one.

Back on Dec. 6 when the announcement revealing the details of Messier's banner night were first revealed, Dave Mitchell of CFRN-TV asked Kevin Lowe to respond to the idea that Game 4 of the 1990 Conference Final against Chicago might have been the Oiler equivalent of Messier's 1994 guarantee game with the Rangers. Lowe had a big grin as he looked in the camera.

"That was the game that Jonesy challenged him. And Mark responded."

There was an even bigger grin.

"That was a good thing and it still is to this day. I'm not gonna blow too much smoke to the media. But the media have always kept us accountable. I remember it being a real defining moment for Mark.

"I think we all recognized all that stuff and what was said about us. I don't know if Mark necessarily had the game he did because he was challenged. But I think he saw it as a defining moment in his career. I think Mark saw it as a time to put an exclamation mark on his career and he certainly did."

For the life of me, I can't remember writing that column. Carved him, huh?

Gee. What follows are never-to-be-forgotten memories of others collected on the way to this day.


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