Sharing the memories

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:49 AM ET

Yesterday, at a small town outside of Montreal, Mark Messier carried the Stanley Cup to the party a young hockey club had won, beating out another kids team from Hinton.

He gets to do that every year. But this year was a bit different. He knew it was 25 years ago that he carried the Cup for the first time.

"It doesn't seem like 25 years ago. It doesn't seem that long ago," he said on his cell phone from the airport in Montreal after he'd performed the duties.

"Everything about it still seems so crystal clear," he said after his afternoon with 12 boys aged six and seven who play for the St. Lazere pre-novice team who won the visit by Messier and the Cup.

Messier isn't sure, being the hometown hero on the team, if it meant more to him than to anybody else. He suspects not. Then again, in a way ...

"It's the anticipation I remember more than anything else," he said of the countdown. "It was a lifelong dream for all of us, but for people in Edmonton, seeing the Cup presented was something they'd watched from Toronto and Montreal and never dreamed they'd see in Edmonton.

"I had a tremendous amount of family and we all had a tremendous amount of pride that Edmonton had won the Stanley Cup. But I was the guy on the ice.

"When the buzzer went off and we won it, I think it hit us all the process it took each of us to get there going back to the street hockey and minor hockey. For me that had all happened in St. Albert and Edmonton. It was extra special to be able to parade the Stanley Cup around my home town."

Informed that a dip into the archives of the coverage from that night reported that while other cavorted with champagne in the dressing room, Messier sat in his stall crying, made him laugh.

"Yeah, that's going to shock people," he said. "Me crying."

Messier has been a mess crying at his banner raising and induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"I was so emotional because of all the effort and work we put into it and the respect for the work and effort everybody else had put into it and for my parents who had helped so much along the way."

Messier also won the Conn Smythe trophy that day.

"It wasn't something I thought about the whole way through. It was all about the team."

Messier, with Kevin Lowe in tow, started the tradition of the team taking the Cup bar hopping with surprise drop-in visits to all sorts of spots.

"We were on the way to a gathering at mom and dad's house in St. Albert," he recalled.

"We decided to pick up a couple cases of beer at the Bruin Inn. And we thought 'Lets take the Cup in with us.' There were probably 30 people in the bar at the time. The word spread pretty fast. In no time it was packed with more people than had ever been in the Bruin Inn at one time before.

"And they all had the same looks on their faces as the people did today when I carried the Cup into the team party. It's another example of why that trophy is so revered."

TERRY.JONES@SUNMEDIA.CA


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