NEW YORK -- Mark Messier helped lead the New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup championship in 1994. With the Rangers making their first Stanley Cup final appearance in two decades, Messier, finds himself clearly in the spotlight, with his opinion sought on a variety of topics.
Even though Messier was unsuccessful in getting the Rangers head coaching job after interviewing last year, he said he still roots passionately for the team.
So prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Los Angeles Kinds at Madison Square Garden, Messier was asked by this reporter about the Rangers first series win, in seven games over the Flyers.
One of the more interesting aspects of the series was that there was not a single fighting major called between these two heated rivals.
Messier wasn’t surprised.
“Often times you see that in the playoffs, there is just too much at stake,” he said before Game 3. "There is always some intimidation that goes and that is part of our game but players learn to play through it and play with discipline.”
Messier says the temptation to fight has to be offset by doing what is best for the team.
“You can’t sacrifice your own agenda for the team,” he said. “So you normally see very good hockey.”
He also pointed to another factor while there were no fisticuffs.
“I think part of it was is that because all the games were so close,” he said. “You never saw a game really get out of hand where a score was lopsided and teams could start taking jeopardy.”
Three of the games were decided by three goals, which doesn’t indicate all games were tight, but his point is well taken.
Messier feels that the NHL doesn’t have to have fighting to make it exciting and cites this season’s playoffs, including the Flyers-Rangers series as an example.
I just think it’s a testament to the game and the league and NHLPA collectively, we have found a way to make the game more exciting and open it up to the talent speed and creativity and at the same time have the competitiveness in the game that makes it so special,” he said.