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Messier Reacts to Passing Howe

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

Rangers captain Mark Messier met with the media following his memorable night at Madison Square Garden. Messier ranks second on the National Hockey League's all-time points list with 1,851.

Q: After 1850 were you hoping for 1,851?
Messier: Well, I wasn’t really thinking about that point right there, when we had the 2-0 lead. Obviously if the opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t going to pass it up, let’s put it that way. Like I just said on MSG Network, it makes it a lot more fun achieving some individual statistics when we’re playing well and winning. It’s been a little disappointing around her for the last little while, and its been kind of hard to get too excited about any individual statistics and it makes it that much more special when we’re playing well and winning and there’s a good feeling on the team right now.

Q: What does it mean to you to pass Gordie Howe?
Messier: Like I said earlier in the week, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Gordie (Howe). My dad was affiliated with the Detroit Red Wing team back in the late 50’s early 60’s. He attended some training camps, he played with Gordie in some exhibition games so he had a first hand account of what Gordie was as a hockey player, his power, strength and elegance, everything Gordie was as a hockey player. My dad has a deep respect for him, so Gordie Howe in our household was a really well-respected hockey player as well as a person. Growing up with that and then being at the moment now passing him, like I said yesterday with a little bit of trepidation, because it just seems like Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe are pretty synonymous with each other, The Great One and Mr. Hockey. I guess to put myself in a position to pass him, I think it’s just due to longevity, good fortune and tremendous people around me and being able to play for a while and individual statistics are to accumulate. But it wasn’t something I set out to do.

Gordie’s Mr. Hockey, that’s what he’s known as around the world, as Mr. Hockey. Nobody played with power, finesse, the mean streak, fight, sore goals, leads the team – he did it all. Obviously him being a hockey player, growing up in Western Canada, where there’s some pretty tough, cold nights in the winter playing hockey growing up there, to be compared to Gordie Howe is obviously a tremendous honor. I think it’s always tough to compare players from different eras but it seems to be what happens for any young player coming in the league, he’s compared to this guy or that guy so if you want to compare me to Gordie, I’ll take that gladly.

Q: What goes through your mind at a time like this?
Messier: Like I said, I never really celebrated any individual statistics on any big stage I guess, that I can remember, there’s been some tremendous nights over my career and some hat tricks and things like that, but I just find it hard to really celebrate something like that but what I have to realize that it’s more than about me, it’s a tremendous honor for all the people that I played with. I think it speaks volumes for the game of hockey itself, so I think sometimes you got to be bigger than the situation and show the appreciation you have as an individual for the game, for the people that have helped you along the way, for the respect you have for the game and obviously for the fans. It’s been an unbelievable experience playing in New York and to do the things, after the success we had in Edmonton to come here and have success in New York, it’s a dream come true.

Q: Can you remember your first NHL point?
Messier: I remember my first point was a goal, late in the game scored from behind the net, against Rogie Vachon and I think he was playing for Detroit at the time. It was on my mom's birthday, October 13, and it was our second game. We started in Chicago and we got beat in Chicago and then tied at home 2-2, I think.

Q: What does it mean to you that you did this at Madison Square Garden?
Messier: Well, I can’t lie, I definitely want to do it in this rink. I think you only have one opportunity to do things like this and I wasn’t going to jeopardize anything not to do it at the home rink, obviously, but to do it here is special for me. On a personal note, the relationship that I have had with the city, the organization, the hockey fans, the people – like I said it’s been a life-altering experience for me. Coming to New York in the first place in 1991, and having an opportunity to come back again, it’s been a real life experience for me.

Q: How long did you play against Gordie?
Messier: I played against Gordie for two years actually in the WHA and the first year in the NHL. So again, there’s another pretty amazing moment for myself as a hockey player, 17 years old playing against Gordie Howe. And at that time obviously the most well-respected player in the world. So another thing that I can look back on and say I did.

Q: Do you ever think about how much the game has changed?
Messier: Well we have talked about a lot, in fact we were talking about it this morning, how the game has changed. But, it’s just a great game, it’s a great spectator game, people change the expansion comes along, there are more teams but when it gets right down to nuts and bolts, it’s just a tremendous game to play and participate in and obviously watch. If you’re a hockey fan, the purity of the games is what I guess what everyone loves about it. When it gets down to playing for when it counts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s what we are all here for, to do that. That’s when hockey’s the best time to play.

1 Wayne Gretzky 2,857
2 Mark Messier 1,851
3 Gordie Howe 1,850
4 Marcel Dionne 1,771
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