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Messier ends historic career

Associated Press
Published September 13, 2005


NEW YORK - Mark Messier was 30 and already a five-time Stanley Cup champion when it was time to leave the hometown Edmonton Oilers.

That was the summer of 1991, three years after Wayne Gretzky's stunning trade to Los Angeles and a year removed from the Oilers' fifth title in seven years. The dynasty was over and Messier was the latest big star about to be shipped out.

Glen Sather, the man who built the team and ran it from the bench during the glory years, asked Messier where he wanted to go. The answer was the Rangers, a team that hadn't won a Stanley Cup since 1940.

Monday, the stone-jawed captain, 44, said goodbye, announcing his retirement after a 25-year career and six championships, including the one in 1994 that ended the Rangers' drought. He is second only to Gretzky on the NHL's career scoring list.

It took only three seasons for Messier to deliver with the Rangers and cement himself as one of the greatest leaders in team sports.

"I knew all the past history of the teams in New York ... but I don't think anything can really prepare you for going to play in New York until you get there," Messier said during a conference call. "I felt that I was fairly confident in what it took to win a Stanley Cup."

Messier embraced the challenge, and when it appeared another chance was going to slip away he pulled a page out of the Joe Namath handbook and guaranteed a victory.

With the Rangers trailing New Jersey 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference final, Messier promised New York would force a seventh game. He made good by posting his fourth and final playoff hat trick in a 4-2 victory.

New York won Game 7 in double overtime to advance to the final, which it won in seven over Vancouver.

"He had the biggest influence on my career by far of any player that I played with," said Boston defenseman Brian Leetch, a Ranger from 1988-2004. "I wish everyone could have had an opportunity to be in the locker room with him and see his dedication to his teammates and to winning."

VETERAN WING RETIRES: Kings right wing Trent Klatt announced his retirement after 14 seasons. Klatt, 34, played in 782 career games for four teams.

RADIO DEAL: The NHL announced a 10-year, $100-million deal with XM Satellite Radio that begins this season and will make XM the league's exclusive satellite radio broadcast partner beginning with the 2007-08 season.

BRUINS: Goalie Andrew Raycroft and defenseman Nick Boynton held out in contract disputes at the opening of training camp, depriving the team of two keys to stopping opposing forwards under the NHL's more wide-open rules.

FLYERS: Center Peter Forsberg had an infected bursa sac removed from his right ankle and will miss at least two weeks.

THRASHERS: Unrestricted free agent forward Peter Bondra was close to signing a one-year contract. Bondra was discussing an incentive-laden deal that would probably include a base salary of around $500,000.