Mark Messier was at Oilers practice today and afterwards met with the media.
"I'm here doing a sports and memorabilia dinner up in Sylvan Lake on Thursday so I took the opportunity to come in a couple of days early and see the boys and catch the opening game," he told a group of local reporters.
"I always get a chance to come see the game, see Kevin and MacT and some good friends here in the city."
Messier is currently helping oversee the transformation of the Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx into the largest ice complex in the world -- nine rinks. He is working on this project after departing the New York Rangers organization this past summer. After the project is complete, Messier could see himself returning to the NHL in some management capacity but his focus right now is on the project.
"This was an opportunity that I had been working on for the last three years and all of a sudden it became very real and we were getting through all the approvals that you need to do something in the city. It's a historical landmark building and all the approval processes are very stringent. We're getting through community votes, we're getting through council votes, we're getting through to City Hall. It looks like it's getting off the ground," he said. "This has been a work in progress the last three years."
The former Oilers captain also had some words about Andrew Ference, who was named the 14th captain of the Oilers yesterday.
"Being a captain at any team level is important. It's not to be taken lightly. It's a big responsibility. I think that players need a galvanizing figure to rally around. That player has to have the experience and wherewithal to live 25 lives instead of just one and it's not easy sometimes," Messier began. "The guys that do it well and the teams that do have good leadership from their captains and assistant captains oftentimes are the teams that will perform better. But you don't need a letter on your jersey to be a leader. Ultimately, everyone needs to be a leader in their own way and take their own responsibility to do more."