LCS Hockey: Born Again
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June 24, 2018
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LCS Top 100: No. 9

9. Mark Messier: Despite ranking seventh all-time in goals (694) and second in points (1,887), Messier can't really compete with the game's truly elite scorers. He managed six 100-point seasons, only one 50-goal campaign, and averaged 1.07 points per game, well below the other ace point-producers. Granted, sticking around until his early 40s didn't do his per-game averages any favors, but Messier never finished higher than eighth in goals and had a single second-place finish in points, always lagging behind other superstars in terms of raw stats.

But stats are for losers. Messier won. A lot. He captured two Hart Trophies, one Conn Smythe, and six Stanley Cups. Known as one of the sport's greatest leaders, Messier captained the Edmonton Oilers to a Cup without Wayne Gretzky and then led the Rangers to their first championship in 54 years.

Personally, I think the Messier leadership stuff gets a little overblown. Sure, he was swell in Edmonton and New York, but does the best leader in hockey really bail on his teammates to chase money in Vancouver? Maybe that's just me.

Anyway, Messier cracks the Top 10 on the strength of his overall game. The ideal power forward, Messier punished the opposition, using sheer brutality to create space for himself and his linemates. He wasn't scared to drop the People's Elbow or engage in the occasional stickwork. And once he got a step, Messier was solid gone. Few players have ever been as impressive in full flight, and his off-foot wrister ripped more twine than a Nike sweatshop.

Messier was also a clutch performer, as witnessed by his 1.25 points-per-game average in the playoffs. He always found a way to come through when his team needed it most, whether it was piping a timely goal, delivering a game-changing hit, winning a decisive draw, or performing his naked ventriloquist act with Gary Coleman.


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