Considering the fact that he played professional hockey until he retired at 43 after the 2003-04 season concluded, maybe it shouldn’t be that mind blowing that Mark Messier turned 50 today.
Then again, maybe it’s surprising because of the Peter Pan Effect that comes from being called “Robin” to Wayne Gretzky’s “Batman” for all those years.* Yet much like other great second bananas in sports such as Scottie Pippen, Messier deserves much better than to be known as Wayne’s wingman.
* – Or maybe it’s because it doesn’t seem like he aged much in the last, oh, 10 years.
Unlike Pippen after Jordan last game with the Chicago Bulls, Messier thankfully produced some of his best work once Gretzky left in a trail of trade-related tears. He won two Stanley Cups without him: one playing among the remnants of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty after Gretzky left, the other during the famous run that broke the the New York Rangers’ Stanley Cup curse. He also won two Hart Trophies in the 1989-90 and 91-92, emphasizing once again that he was his own brilliant talent.
But beyond his abilities, Messier is known more for the mythical status he carved out thanks to his steely-eyed leadership, jutting chin/jaw and that famous guarantee he made (and backed up) during a great seven game series with the New Jersey Devils.
The 2007 Hall of Fame inductee played 25 seasons in the NHL, passing Gordie Howe for second place in league history in points (1887) behind his buddy Wayne.
“This one will last a lifetime”
Passing Gordie Howe for second all-time in points scored in NHL history: