SUN Hockey Pool

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JONATHAN HUNTINGTON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:54 PM ET

Craig MacTavish is trying to deliver a rather blunt message to his club.

By parking every player for the Edmonton Oilers on the bench tonight to watch every minute of Mark Messier's banner-raising ceremony, MacTavish wants to see some fire in their eyes when the puck is dropped.

"I really view it as something that is going to be a source of inspiration for our team," said MacTavish after yesterday's practice at Millennium Place in Sherwood Park.

"If you can watch that and not come out inspired, then maybe there shouldn't be a place for you on the Oiler bench."

In the last two seasons, the Oilers are 0-4 in games involving special ceremonies. But MacTavish wants his players watching it.

"We will be expecting our players to be ready when this thing is over and I don't want to be sitting at the end of the game talking about a lacklustre start because of the fact we were sitting on the bench for whatever the case may be (tonight)," added MacT.

"It is an important evening for the Oilers and the Oilers organization to honour a guy that has truly been the lifeblood of the organization for a lot of years.

"There are a lot of qualities he has that the organization holds in very high esteem. And I want each one of our players to show him the respect that he deserves.

"And take a piece of it, take a piece of his personality in your own game (tonight) and go out and play the game as such."

To MacTavish, there is no shortage of critical traits in Messier's personality.

"When you are putting a list of characteristics together that embody the perfect hockey player, you might very well be describing him," said MacTavish on Messier.

"Whether it is coachability, whether it is toughness, skill, grit, or it is gamesmanship."


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