View Full Version : The end of an Era - Last Cincinnati Stinger retires.

09-12-2005, 02:32 PM
The last Cincinnati Stinger and WHA player to play professionally is hanging them up.



NEW YORK (CP) -- Mark Messier is calling it quits.

The 44-year-old announced his retirement Monday, ending a career that stretched 25 NHL seasons and produced six Stanley Cup rings and the second most points in NHL history.

Messier called it a tough decision, because he was still healthy. But he said the fact he could leave the game in good condition also influenced his decision.

"For me it's been a long career, I achieved a lot," he said during a conference call Monday. "There was really nothing left for me to achieve, it was just time for me to move aside and go on to something else."

"I just feel really good about the decision," he added, "I've had a year and a half to think about it. ... It's the right thing to do."

The two-time league MVP (1990 and '92) played for Edmonton, Vancouver and most recently the Rangers in a stellar career that featured 694 goals, 1,193 assists and 1,887 points in 1,756 games. He ranks second only to Wayne Gretzky in scoring.

Known as the Moose, Messier was renowned for his leadership skill. He and Wayne Gretzky led the Oilers in their halcyon years and then Messier brought the Cup to the Big Apple as a Ranger.

The Edmonton native joined the Oilers for the 1979-80 season after stints in the World Hockey Association with Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

The Rangers plan to retire Messier's number on Jan. 12.

Messier became a star in Edmonton in the 1980s and won five Cups with the Oilers. He became a headliner on Broadway in the '90s, captaining the New York Rangers to the '94 championship that ended the team's 54-year title drought.

Even though the official announcement came Monday, Messier all but said goodbye on March 31, 2004, following the Rangers' final home game before the lockout that wiped out all of last season.

The Rangers held physicals for their players Monday at the opening of training camp, but the longtime star never expressed intentions to return for another season.

But Rangers general manager Glen Sather, the architect of the Oilers' dynasty that was spearheaded by Messier and Gretzky, always left room for the rock-jawed captain to come back.

Messier teamed with Gretzky to win four championships in Edmonton during the 1980s and then won another in 1990 after Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles.

He trails only Gretzky in playoff goals and assists, but he topped the Great One by adding one post-season guarantee that took him to heightened status in Manhattan.

With the Rangers trailing New Jersey 3-2 in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Messier promised New York would force a seventh game. He made good on his word by posting his fourth and final playoff hat trick in a 4-2 victory.

New York won Game 7 in double overtime to advance to the final, which also ended with a seventh game victory.

His second stint with the Rangers, which covered the final four seasons of his career, wasn't nearly as successful. New York failed to make the playoffs in any of the years. Messier played in the post-season during his first 13 NHL years, before New York missed in 1993.

After leaving the Rangers following their most recent playoff appearance in 1997, Messier was out of the playoffs for the next seven years -- including three with Vancouver.

He leaves 970 fewer regular-season points than Gretzky and 37 more than Gordie Howe, who sits in third place.

"I never thought about any individual records," Messier said. "Coming back to break any records, especially that record wasn't all that appealing to me."

Messier always did things on his terms, and his retirement is no different. After a year off, he wasn't spurred to play again even though he is only six goals away from 700 -- a mark reached by only six players -- and 11 games short of tying Howe's record of 1,767.

Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe, Messier's longtime teammate on the great Oilers teams, tried to convince him to return to his hometown for a farewell tour. But Messier really only considered playing in New York, where he has a young family.

Messier was showered with applause from teammates, family, friends, fans and even the Buffalo Sabres when he skated off the ice for what turned out to be his final game 18 months ago, a 4-3 loss at Madison Square Garden.

Messier and Gretzky have always been linked, whether on the ice or in the record book. Messier scored 109 playoff goals, 13 fewer than Gretzky, and set up 186 others -- 74 fewer than Gretzky, now the Phoenix Coyotes coach.

But the second partnership lasted just one year as Messier left the Rangers for Vancouver as a free agent following a surprising run with Gretzky to the Eastern Conference finals.

When Sather took over as Rangers GM in 2000 he brought Messier back. Messier scored his final goal in his final game, No. 698 with the Rangers.

The inability to rekindle success in New York and the departure of close friend Brian Leetch, who was traded to Toronto as part of the Rangers' salary dump of 2004, surely pushed Messier to his final goodbye to Broadway.

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/article.jsp;jsessionid=JGOPLMLFDKGH?content=200509 11_235404_5400


09-12-2005, 04:11 PM
Easy guy to root for.

09-15-2005, 09:43 PM
Went to many Stingers' games in my early youth, along with the Cincinnati Suds "professional softball" team, and the Cincinnati Kids indoor soccer team.

I do not remember where the Suds used to play, thought it was CTC's old stadium.