Messier Returns to the NY Rangers
N E W Y O R K, July 13 -- Teary-eyed and promising tolead the New York Rangers to the playoffs, former captain andfuture Hall of Famer Mark Messier today returned to the teamhe led to its first Stanley Cup in 60 years.
The Rangers signed the unrestricted free-agent center to atwo-year contract, worth a reported $11 million. The Blueshirts then introducedhim to the media, after a video and musical tribute to hisstunning career.
“To say it’s a great day, obviously is an understatement,”said Messier, who later added that the expectations of theplayers, city, and Glen Sather, the Rangers’ new general manager, are to win the Stanley Cup again.
Messier, 39, the fourth-leading scorer in NHL history whohas won six Stanley Cups, rejoins the Rangers after three yearswith the Vancouver Canucks, who bought out his contract afterthe 1999-00 season.
“I’ll guarantee we’re going to make the playoffs,” Messier said. “I don’t think anybody will bedisappointed over the next couple of years what will happen herein New York.”
He added, “the way I learned to win and the wayI’ve been successful is to count on my teammates to come to therink and do whatever it is to be successful every night,” hesaid.
Messier also quoted new Rangers coach Ron Low, who coachedin Edmonton while Messier played in New York and Vancouver.
“Winning is an attitude,” he said. “We have to change theattitude that’s been here the last few years.”
Change in Captains
Defenseman Brian Leetch stepped from the dais, where he andRangers standouts Mike Richter and Adam Graves were seated, andhanded Messier his No. 11 jersey, complete with the captain’s“C.”
Messier accepted the jersey, raised his hands in triumph andbegan to speak before breaking down in tears. He finally spokebefore his emotions interrupted him again.
“I feel a little strange right now wearing the sweater withthe captain’s “C” on it,” said Messier, before stoppinghimself again. “I think the people closest to me know how Ifeel about Brian. For him to hand the “C” over and for me toaccept it is a real honor.”