Mark Messier played a significant role on five of the 20 teams still alive in the vote for the Greatest NHL Team.
The NHL on Thursday revealed the 20 Greatest NHL Teams as voted by fans on the League's interactive digital and mobile program, which is part of the Centennial celebration. The list started with the 96 Stanley Cup winners since the NHL's inaugural season in 1917-18.
Among the top 20 are four Edmonton Oilers teams (1983-84, 1984-85, 1986-87, 1987-88) and the 1993-94 New York Rangers. Messier played for all of them and was the captain of the Rangers, who ended a 54-year Stanley Cup drought by winning in 1994.
"Nobody wins alone," Messier said. "I was able to be a part of six Stanley Cup-winning teams [including the 1989-90 Oilers, which didn't make the top 20] because I played with great players who were dedicated and disciplined and had the passion to compete and we were able to do it together. I'm the first to tell you that I was a lucky guy in the position I was put and with the players I played beside for my career."
Messier said he's particularly thrilled his teams are being recognized by fans as the greatest of all time because it means the role players on those teams also are being recognized.
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"That's what I think sometimes goes unnoticed, is that one or two players on the team gets the recognition because they're high-profile guys, but there are so many guys," Messier said. "Kevin McClelland scored a huge goal for us in 1984. Our grinders like Eddie Olczyk and the great players that were selfless and played their role so well in '94 are getting recognized. You can go on down the list, and I know I'm missing a million role players, but for those guys to get the recognition to be on those teams that are being recognized right now makes me feel really good."
Messier has a special place in his heart for all of his Stanley Cup-winning teams, but the 1983-84 Oilers are unique because they were the first team he played on to win the championship. The Oilers had been swept by the New York Islanders in the 1983 Stanley Cup Final but rebounded to defeat the Islanders in the 1984 Final.
"That team had been together for quite a while and we had suffered a lot of setbacks along the way, like getting swept in '83," Messier said. "That team had really gone on a journey together and learned how to win together and really figured out that in order to win we really needed to put the team and what was most important to the team first. I think if you talk to any one of the guys on that team that were around for the previous years leading up to it they would say the same thing, that it was a really seminal moment in our careers. We learned the real sacrifices you need to make to become a winner. It's not lip service."
The 20 remaining teams will be pared to 10 in the final round of head-to-head voting, which closes May 25. The Top 10 will be unveiled during the Stanley Cup Final, with the Greatest HL Team revealed during Game 4 of the Cup Final. To make your picks, go to NHL.com/GreatestTeams.