Memories

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 1:53 PM ET

KEVIN LOWE

"I remember him in his Jofa helmet and his big ass.

"Looking back, Mark held out at his first training camp. All the veterans thought that was pretty ballsy for an 18-year-old.

"Mark was everything you wanted to be in a hockey player. I think Mark was the player Glen Sather wanted to be. I think Glen had most of his attributes except skill.

"As his old roomie and playing with him in both Edmonton and New York, I've had as close a relationship with Mess as anybody. I really got to know his passion. You look back now and you just think, 'Unbelievable.' Everything about him has been unbelievable.

"Mark has been recognized as the greatest leader in the history of hockey. It would be a grave mistake not to recognize him as the greatest leader in the history of sport.

"The thing I'm proudest about of all the years I played with Mark is that we were in 42 playoff series together and won 33. We lost only nine."

CRAIG MACTAVISH

"He had it all. The character. The leadership. The intensity. The edge. Real skill. And gamesmanship.

"He knew exactly what was needed. He knew exactly what his team needed, when his team needed it and when to provide it.

"He had a way to make everybody feel like they were a winner. There hasn't been a better leader that I've ever seen. You couldn't play with more heart and soul than he did.

"Mark was a very intimidating player. If you took too much of a liberty with a teammate, he was going to get you. And he had a body for the Smithsonian.

"If I have a freeze-frame of him that isn't carrying a Stanley Cup, it's probably of him shooting from his signature pose on one skate. Far side low. Or if he overplayed it, short side high."

DON CHERRY

"My favourite memory of Messier wasn't when he guaranteed victory with the Rangers in the playoffs or any one of his big goals to win games with the Oilers. It was when that Russian came around the net the wrong way in that Canada Cup and Messier just creamed him.

"What was the Russian's name? Kutyourfingeroff or something. Use that. They'll love it. Canada won that Canada Cup for one reason - what Messier did to that Russian.

"We were losing 3-0 or something at the time. After that the Russians didn't want anything more to do with it. That was the best one.

"If Messier was still playing now and did that they'd put him away for life for what he did to that Russian.

"He was old-time hockey. He could intimidate you with the look in his eyes. They were lasers. They could look right through you. And some of the things he did ..."

RON MACLEAN

"Of all the things to remember about Mark, for some reason the one that is most vivid to me was when I went overseas with Wayne Gretzky's team during the 1994 lockout. They played in Oslo, Norway, and were outshot 22-2 in the first period.

"Mark came into the dressing room after the first period and shattered his stick. He said, 'This is it. We're embarrassing ourselves.' The games were mostly meaningless, but there was a limit for Mark.

"I also remember asking him before the final of the Oilers' fifth Stanley Cup if Wayne would be jealous no longer being there to be part of it after the deal which sent him away to L.A. ... Mark told me they were going to dedicate it to Wayne."

HARRY NEALE

"When I was coaching in Vancouver I remember sending Thomas Gradin out for a faceoff against Messier. He damn near busted Gradin's wrist on that faceoff and Thomas came back to the bench saying 'I don't know if I want to win a faceoff against him.'

"You were always worried Wayne Gretzky was going to get eight goals against you but it was Mark who often ended up beating you.

"He was kind of the thermometer of that team. If it was right for him, it was right for that team.

"There were not many guys you watched playing against you who contributed to you losing who you still loved to watch play the game. He was one of them."

BOB COLE

"I don't know how many games I called for Hockey Night In Canada during that Oilers era, but I have so many memories of Messier.

"I remember that seventh game of the final in '87 against Philadelphia.

"Mark got hurt late in that game and the tension in that building in Edmonton was as high as I've ever felt it for any game I ever broadcast.

"Messier came back out and skated around for a little bit. Then on his first shift he pasted somebody. I don't know why I remember that. There's so much to remember about Mark, but I remember that.

"Another one I remember in Edmonton in a Stanley Cup final was when Messier got a breakaway and scored. The next day somebody took the calls from the CBC French telecast, the NBC or CBS telecast and our telecast on that play and put them together. I remember mine: 'Nobody is going to catch him!' "

GLEN SATHER

"The first time I saw him play in St. Albert, he was just a young kid flying all over the ice. He certainly didn't have superstar written all over him, but he had desire in his play.

"I remember early on, him kicking the bleep out of a veteran guy. That's what I saw in Mark, a great desire. Just his emotion and passion for the game. As he grew up, he brought emotion to a different level in the game.

"I remember him throwing his gloves into the crowd and waving at his mom and dad in the stands when he won his first Stanley Cup.

"He always rose to the occasion. He was never one to score three goals in a 7-1 game. Mark always scored important goals.

"And it was always about the team. One thing I'll always remember was when the Oilers were beating teams by several goals, was that Mark would always be the one on the bench that would kind of point out that so-and-so needed a goal or an assist or needed to get out there when there was an empty net.

"He was always trying to deflect the glory. Everybody is going to look at the records and see that he's second in all-time scoring and played in so many games and won so many Stanley Cups. But I think he's going to go down in history as the ultimate warrior."

GLENN ANDERSON

"How about this one? I'd just been traded from Toronto to New York. I arrived in New York and had no idea where I was going to stay or what I was going to do. Mess said 'You're going to stay with me.'

"So one day the phone rings at his place and I answer it. A female voice is on the other end. She says 'Is Mark there?'

"I said 'No, but can I take a message?'

"She said 'Just tell Mark that Madonna called?'

"How many girls do you know called Madonna? I'm saying, 'the Madonna?'

"Or how about this one. I once had a brawl with Mess.

"It was after Gretz had been sold. I was playing horsebleep. Mess moved Kevin Lowe's bed out of the hotel room into the hall to make floor space for it to happen.

"The fight started kind of World Wrestling Federation-like but by the end of it my nose was bleeding and I had cuts and scrapes."

BARRIE STAFFORD

"To know Mark Messier as a leader and a hockey player was one thing, but to know him and appreciate him as a person has always been something else again.

"He has always been an unbelievably generous person and he did, honestly, care about everybody who was a part of the team, on the ice and off, including an equipment manager such as myself.

"The best example I probably have is after winning a Stanley Cup he decided to take his family to the Greek Islands. He knew I was fascinated with Greece and invited me to come. I paid my own way and all that, but he had it all lined up and it was the trip of a lifetime.

"He had two 40-foot boats lined up. He was captain of one and his dad the captain of another. One was called Stanley Cup. Another was called Canada Cup. He had flags made up and everything.

"The thing about Mark was he worked so hard winning, that when he'd won he really enjoyed the fruits of his labour."

WAYNE GRETZKY

"You look back and think you'd never see another guy like Gordie Howe. And then along came Mark.

"Mark was like Gordie in so many ways.

"Mark and Gordie liked every single aspect of being an NHL player, from the road trips to the practices to the games ... every part of it. There wasn't one area they didn't love.

"When you think about it, Gordie Howe retired in 1990 and Mark was right there to take over. You never thought it would happen.

"As smart as the scouting staff, coaching staff and Glen Sather were, nobody is that smart to end up with the first two centres finishing 1-2 in all-time NHL scoring. That was a unique situation.

"The big thing with Mess was how incredibly unselfish he was. He cared about nothing other than winning. And he truly loved the game."

ADAM GRAVES

"There have been a lot of lines about his emotion, about how he should be sponsored by Kleenex. But his emotion and heart took him in a lot of different directions.

"I remember with the Oilers in '90. We got beat something like 10-2 in Calgary. They absolutely humiliated us.

"After a loss like that, the players on most teams go off on their own to lick your wounds. But Mess insisted we were all going to go out for dinner together in Calgary. He didn't want us to go back and pout. In the next game we had more energy than we had all season. We went on to win the Oilers fifth Stanley Cup that year.

"There are a lot of stories about the idea that Mark would grab a guy, put him to the wall and beat the $@%# out of you if you didn't play well, but he didn't really have to do that.

"Everybody talks about when Mess got that look in his eye. That stare or whatever. A lot of who Mess was actually was his body language. Head up. Proud. And always more than words. Actions."


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