The perfect player

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Craig MacTavish says if you were to construct the perfect player, you'd end up with Mark Messier.

"He had it all. The character. The leadership. The intensity. The edge. Real skill. And gamesmanship. He knew what was needed. He knew exactly what his team needed, when his team needed it and was able 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 seen. You couldn't play with more heart and soul than he did."

MacTavish, like his boss Kevin Lowe, won Stanley Cups with Messier in both Edmonton and New York.

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

The Oilers coach, who was an assistant coach with the New York Rangers before he came here, said it must have been strange for Messier with the lockout.

"He's essentially been retired for 16 months."

MacTavish said Messier was a study leading the Rangers to the '94 Cup.

"The mental and physical energy that he put into that Cup took a big toll on me physically and mentally. That's why he's revered as much as he is in New York. The people loved him and still do."

MacTavish says everybody today should close their eyes and look at the freeze frame in their mind of Messier.

If it isn't of him carrying a Stanley Cup, he says it's probably of him shooting from his signature pose on one skate.

"Far side low," he said.

"And if he overplayed it, it was short side high."


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