Mark on the game

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

The ride of his life? Not counting the trip to the Stanley Cup final in the spring of 2004, it's quite possible.

Jarome Iginla was a hot-shot teen in Edmonton when his then agent Paul Messier -- Mark Messier's brother -- gave him a ride in the Moose's Porsche.

"About 15 years old I was, 14 or 15 I think, and went to his house," recalled Iginla yesterday. "It was a really cool experience. It was something I was bragging about to my buddies for a while.

"Now I have a Porsche. I guess I looked up to him a bit, eh?"

Looked up to but won't face again in the NHL.

Messier, No. 2 on the NHL's all-time scoring and games-played list and owner of six Stanley Cup titles, called it a career yesterday after 25 seasons.

"It's been a long career. I've achieved a lot. There was just really nothing left for me to achieve I guess," he said on a conference call. "It was just time to move aside and go on to something else."

In his career, Messier twice won the Hart Memorial Trophy as league MVP, as well the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1984 and named to five all-star teams.

To Iginla and so many others in the league, though, the Moose was more than just another star.

He was a dominating force, to which Flames fans can attest after witnessing all those Battle of Alberta clashes of the 1980s.

"I loved everything about his game, his intensity, leadership, his big goals, that snapshot off the wing. Just being a winner," said Iginla, who grew up idolizing Messier and the other Oilers greats. "He's been great for our game and I always looked up to him and wanted to play like him. He could do it all."

Chris Simon, a teammate of Messier for most of the 2003-04 season, marveled at what he saw first hand.

"I think he could still play. The guy looks like he's 25 years old when he takes his shirt off," Simon said. "I thought he was gonna continue but I guess he decided it was enough.

"I had a great time playing with him."

Steve Reinprecht is another Edmontonian who grew up being amazed at Messier's achievements but what stands out is his first experience against him.

"He's the Moose, there's a ton of memories. He's got six Cups and is a legend," Reinprecht said. "My first ever shift was a faceoff against him. That's my biggest memory. I wouldn't even look him in the eye."

Robyn Regehr also weighed in on the game's ultimate power forward.

"A couple of things, world famous elbows and also a helmet no one will ever forget," he said. "It is always a thrill to have a chance to play against a player that you grew up watching when you're a child and when you're playing street hockey with your friends, one is always saying he's Mark Messier.

"To have a chance to play against him is an honour."

Simon re-iterated how much better it was to be a teammate, adding how he sees the same attributes in his new team's captain.

"The type of person, to me that's number one," said Simon. "He was a great captain, the best I've ever had -- Iggy reminds me of him the way he treats people and the way he treats everybody, not just players and teammates, everybody."

Looks like more than just a love of Porsches rubbed off that day.

MESSIER AT A GLANCE

BORN: Jan. 18, 1961, in Edmonton.

NHL TEAMS: Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks, New York Rangers.

STATS: Second only to Wayne Gretzky in NHL career points with 1,887. Messier ranks seventh in goals (694), third in assists (1,193) and second in games played (1,756).

PLAYOFFS: Second in playoff appearances (236) and second in goals (109), assists (186) and points (295).

HONOURS: Hart Trophy (1990, '92), Lester B. Pearson Award (1990, '92), Conn Smythe Trophy (1984), first team all-star (1982, '83, '90 '92). Won six Stanley Cups (1983-84, '84-85, '86-87, '87-88, '89-90 and '93-94)

FINAL GAME: March 31, 2004, vs. Buffalo at MSG. Scored goal No. 694 in a 4-3 loss.

CAPTAIN: First player to have served as captain for two different teams winning the Stanley Cup (Oilers, 1990) and Rangers (1994).


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