Mark Messier on Thursday announced his resignation from the New York Rangers as special assistant to the president in attempt to pursue his dream of expanding the game of hockey in the New York area.
Messier issued the following statement regarding his future:
"I would like to thank the New York Rangers and particularly Glen Sather for giving me the opportunity over the last four years to work with the Rangers," Messier said. "I am resigning my position with the Team to pursue an opportunity to expand the game of hockey in the New York area by developing the Kingsbridge National Ice Center."
Messier said his decision had nothing to do with the fact Rangers general manager Glen Sather named Alain Vigneault as the team's new coach in team history on June 21. Vigneault replaced the fired John Tortorella. Messier was interviewed for the job as well.
"Although some will perceive this as a reaction to the coaching decision, nothing could be further from the truth," he said. "I completely respect the decision that was made and for all the reasons it was made. I harbor no hard feelings toward Glen or the Rangers. This is a personal choice I am making to create a program in the New York area that will give our children more choices and opportunities in the future. I wish the Rangers nothing but the best in the future."
Messier is part of a group that will bring an ice complex featuring nine rinks to the Bronx. Construction of the $275 million Kingsbridge National Ice Center is scheduled to begin in late 2014 and the facility is due to be partially completed in 2017.
"I think he has decided to do something else with his life and he'll get on with doing what he likes to do best, which is being involved in business," Sather said after the NHL Board of Governors meeting in New York.
Asked if not getting the coaching job played into the move, Sather said, "I think that's part of his decision, but we all have to live our own lives the way we decide to do them and his choice was he decided to move on.
"We parted on great terms. Mark is a great friend of mine."