Monday, September 12, 2005


Old thugs don't retire, they just skate away

So Mark Messier has decided to retire. Hilarious comment on the "timing" from Tom Benjamin - I'm italicizing his sarcasm in case it isn't sufficiently obvious:
It has become painfully obvious that we're all going to pretend that Mark Messier is choosing to hang up his skates. Fair enough. That won't be nearly as hard as pretending he has been an NHL player for the past eight years and I'm willing to play along.

I'm glad Mark decided to pack it in while he still had some gas in the tank. It's his life, his talent and his legacy, but I always think it is sad to see great players stay on past their due date. I'm usually happier to see guys go before they wear out their welcome and therefore I think Mark is making the right decision. Better to go now than risk tarnishing one of the greatest careers in NHL history.

Good luck, Moose.

I made my opinion of Mark Messier clear last September:
Mark Messier is absolutely the dirtiest player in NHL history who is best known for something besides his thuggery. There's a laundry list of NHL retirees with permanent back problems, post-concussion syndrome, and general pain who will back me up on this.

Here's some of the laundry list, by the way:
Suspended one game by NHL during 1983-84 season for receiving three game-misconduct penalties during course of season... Suspended six games by NHL during 1983-84 season for hitting Thomas Gradin over the helmet with his stick during Edmonton's Jan. 18, 1984, game vs. Vancouver. Gradin suffered a mild concussion... Suspended 10 games by NHL for cracking Jamie Macoun's cheekbone in a fight during Edmonton's Dec. 26, 1984, game at Calgary. Messier was retaliating for having been boarded by Macoun earlier in the game, but the NHL ruled that he had instigated the fight... Suspended six games by NHL during 1988-89 season for hitting Rich Sutter in mouth with a high stick during Edmonton's Oct. 23, 1988, game at Vancouver. Although Messier was not called for a penalty on the play, Sutter suffered four broken teeth... Suspended without pay for three non-game, non-travel days and fined $500 by NHL for stick-swinging incident with Ulf Samuelsson during N.Y. Rangers' March 5, 1993, game vs. Pittsburgh... Suspended two games and fined $1,000 by NHL for hitting Mike Hough from behind during second period of N.Y. Rangers' Oct. 6, 1996, game vs. Florida
"Cracking Jamie Macoun's cheekbone during a fight"? You could put it that way; you could also say Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore's neck during a fight, and be no less accurate.

When I first wrote about Messier, Colby Cosh got a little cranky ("...any Flames fan wishing to convict Mark Messier of dirty play had better at least mention the words 'Gary Suter', or be prepared to be dismissed as a five-Cup-envying whiny little bitch..."). I wrote another bit about Suter, the key graf being this:
Unlike Messier, Suter's thuggery is and will always be the lede in his hockey obituary, and rightly so.

This was borne out; Suter was eligible for the Hall of Fame this summer for the first time, and I listened to several hours of sports talk on the topic. Caller after caller - in Calgary, and against the objections of the host - expressed that they thought what he did to both Gretzky and Kariya should be held against him. I'd have to agree; if non-statistical "intangibles" are supposed to bolster the case for putting Paul Henderson (or Grant Freakin Fuhr) in the Hall, then why shouldn't they scuttle someone else's hopes?

Anyway, the real obits for Mess will sound a lot like Tom Benjamin's fake one. Mine goes something like, "Talent for 15 years, bum for 8, dirty attempting-to-injure cheater for 25."

Of course, I will repeat my previous equivocation:
...if you want to see me be a whiny little bitch, just send Messier to confront me! I ran into him (not literally, thank God) in a golf shop in the late '80s. TV fails to do this guy justice. He was wearing Dockers and a windbreaker, and he still looked like he was carved out of granite.



As a convert to the Oil after Messier left, I'll leave it to Cosh to rebut.

I do wonder, however, if the Moose still wouldn't have been more effective than any of our current centers: Peca, Horcoff, Reasoner, Stoll.


Do you hold the same dislike for Gordie Howe? It would answer Coshs' question about just having cup envy.

Sad that the era when real men played hockey is gone. Mess was the Alpha-dog. Go play some NHL-'09 on your widescreen if you can handle that much 'violence'.

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