Mark Messier has spent the past two months self-quarantined with his family at home in South Carolina, yet the six-time Stanley Cup winner's thoughts have been with those impacted by the coronavirus in New York.
Messier, who played 10 seasons for the New York Rangers and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 1994, is aware the city has been among those hit hardest by the pandemic in the United States. But what stands out to him is the way New Yorkers have again pulled together in response.
The Hockey Hall of Fame center witnessed similar efforts while playing for the Rangers following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
"Going back to 9-11 and seeing how people galvanized together in the face of adversity is always inspiring," Messier said. "We've lost a lot of great people, so that's been super challenging. But I think people in general when something happens are more than willing to reach out and raise money or bring awareness or do whatever's necessary for people to get through. … Our first responders and the people who are working in the hospitals, it's incredibly disheartening for what's happening, but it's also inspiring to see how people rally around causes like this."
This time around, Messier will do his part by getting back on the ice. Messier and other members of the Rangers 1994 Cup team, including Brian Leetch, Mike Richter and Adam Graves, will play in a hockey game at Madison Square Garden on a date to be determined against a team of 20 players that bid $120,500 in an auction that was part of the ALL IN Challenge, which was created by Fanatics with the All In Challenge Foundation to raise money for Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry.
"We're trying to do our part, whatever we can do to help," Messier said. "Someone came up with this idea to get together, which would obviously just be fun for us but also really kind of fun for the people that are going to be able to get to play against us."
Messier, who played 25 NHL seasons with the Edmonton Oilers, Vancouver Canucks and Rangers before retiring in 2005, acknowledged he'll have to do some on-ice training before that game, but the 59-year-old remains active in off-ice training as co-founder of Honeycomb fitness.
Honeycomb delayed plans to open one-stop centers for holistic health, wellness and fitness, including locations in New York, because of the coronavirus. In the meantime, it launched its website and is live streaming free daily workouts with celebrity trainers Stacey Griffith, David Kirsch and Tracy Carlinsky on its Instagram account.
"Surprisingly, it's been probably more successful than we had thought, and a lot of different people and companies are reaching out to come on board," said Messier, who has joined Instagram at therealmarkmessier . "Ultimately, I think we want to be a healthy living platform for health and fitness. That encompasses everything in healthy living and fitness -- of course, nutrition and sports psychology and doctors and whatnot.
"We call ourselves a home of health and wellness. Home of health and wellness really means a lot, so we need to be able to provide many different concepts of what fitness is and as we know fitness means different things to a lot of different people."