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2021-22 Rangers

What Mark Messier has been saying about the Rangers recently

Over the last few weeks, Mark Messier has been promoting his book “No One Wins Alone” and spoke about the Rangers with various media outlets.

Messier was on WFAN on 11/9 and said:


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  • How close were you ever to coaching or managing at the NHL level, “There was one point where I was asked to coach and I said that I’d do it under one circumstance, that you make sure that everybody in the room here, the inner sanctum of the Rangers all agree that it’s the right decision. They ultimately went in a different direction, which I was okay with…”
  • When was that, “when they let go John Tortorella. The one thing I know in sports is that you have to be around people that believe you are the one that should be in the job, I didn’t want to get it for any other reason than that, they decided to go in a different way and hired Alain Vigneault and that was perfectly fine. Hockey is something I obviously know very well, I’m not pining to be the coach of the Rangers or the GM of the Rangers, if someone believes that I can help them in any way in an organization, Obviously I’d be crazy not to listen, so we will see….”
  • So you are open to working with a team, “I don’t think I’d ever want to be a coach now, I don’t think I’d ever want to be a GM, I think that, if any position was open to be President of Hockey Ops that would be something I’d be interested in, but coaching and managing, I’m not a manager, I’ve never been a manager, I have a hard enough time managing myself. It’s a different skillset, but setting a vision and creating a culture is something that I think I can do at the President level and hopefully hire the right people and build a team.”
  • On the current Rangers, “Love the changes they made, you’ve gotta have so much diversity to any team if you want to be a champion, you need to be able to play any kind of game that is presented. Teams forever tried to knock us out of games in Edmonton, but we had toughness and grit and more importantly, our star players would play hard games, and I like the additions they made this year. They are young, you can see at times, the last road trip they had some games they should have been able to close out, but they made some mistakes and giveaways, but those are the growing pains you have to go through when you rebuild and you get young guys that you count on to play in big situations, but they are only going to learn from it. You can’t rush experience, but I really like the direction of the team right now.”
  • Can you win a championship without a captain, “I don’t think there are any aboslutes in life and certainly no absolutes in sport. I’ve always been on a team that had a captain, I don’t like to talk about teams unless I’m actually inside the inner sanctum of the dressing room and understand the personnel that is there and the decision making from the management staff. It seems to me that captain is very important. I’m not sure when the last team to win a Stanley Cup, I think it was in the 50s, has won without a captain, but it’s not like it can’t be done. I’m sure the Rangers have identified a player that might be a captain at some point but maybe isn’t ready. There are so many decisions that go into it, but I’ve always been on a team, in my career, that had a captain because I think it’s majorly important to have a guy that can go between players and management and have that trust factor in there. We’ll see where it ends up and hopefully they get one.”

Messier was on the NY Post Rangers podcast and said:

  • Is working for the Rangers still something you want, “I did work under Glen for four years before I left to go work solely on the Kingsbridge project. I had been asked to coach after they let John Tortorella go, but under one condition that everybody thought it was a good idea that I did coach the team and by everybody, I mean the inner circle of management and everyone around Glen. It became apparent that they went in a different direction, which was fine because I was the one that said ‘maybe you should make sure you are all in agreement that you want me to coach the team. When it didn’t happen I was completely fine with that, I wasn’t happy with the way it didn’t go down and the way that it was relayed to me, that they went a different direction, but things like that happen. I have no ill feelings towards the Rangers whatsoever. I did make myself available through those years to continue on, it didn’t happen, but that is just the way it is. I’ve moved on and the interview with Michael Kay I was not positioning myself for a job with the Rangers, I was only making a statement, clearly just making a statement, that I didn’t believe the Rangers had enough diversity in their lineup to protect the players they had. It was as simple as that and got blown out of propitiation that I was making that statement as a proposition for me to be hired for the Rangers, which I let go of a long time ago and moved on.”
  • On the Rangers saying they were going to name a captain and then not doing it, “I’m really hesitant to talk about any organization or any team or player unless I am actually inside the ropes and inner dwellings of the dressing room to understand the philosophy of the players themselves. There are so many factors that go into naming a captain. Looking from the outside in it’s easy to say you should or you shouldn’t or this guy should or shouldn’t be, but unless you are actually on the inside, I stay away from making assumptions because I don’t work under making assumptions, I think it’s too dangerous. I don’t have enough knowledge or background on the players, the philosophy of the direction of the team, so I don’t want to enter into that. I would say however, that I believe that a team needs a captain. “I don’t know the last time a team won a Stanley Cup without a captain. I think that leadership is done by committee, I was fortunate enough when I was a captain to have amazing leaders around me, both in Edmonton and in New York. Not only in assistant captains, but players that didn’t have a letter on their jersey who were amazing leaders in their own right and did an incredible amount of work behind the scenes that never got credit for it. By keeping the team galvanized, motivated, in line, singing the same message up and down throughout the team’s leadership from the training staff to the doctors to the management to the coaching staff, it has to be one unified message, but the big link, between all of that is the one leader of the team that everybody can look to in trying times or under adversity or when things are going great. My philosophy, if I didn’t have one and was looking to get one, and they might feel they have an emerging captain that isn’t ready, that is the other thing as well. I would not rush kids into leadership positions because it’s a tremendous amount of responsibility. Of course you can be a great player and great kid and all the qualities of a leader, but you don’t have an idea of what you don’t know as a young hockey player in the NHL and the ramifications of being a leader. Pro sports is a serious business, people’s livelihoods are at stake, there is a lot that goes into it and to put that onus on a player that is not ready, the benefits and returns are not worth it. They have to be patient and they might recognize that, but at the same time, I’m still saying, in my opinion, every team does need a singular leader, but with great leadership underneath him.”
  • On Alexis Lafreniere, “a young player that is working his way through becoming a pro and learning what a pro is and the demands of being a pro hockey player and playing against the best players in the world. A lot of these players dominate at the junior level and are superstars every step of the way and then they get to the NHL and it’s an awakening that it’s a big boy league, these players are great and big and fast and talented. I think he is going to be a great player in the NHL, I think he’s a great kid, every interview you hear from Lafreniere he is saying the right things. I know he is from a great family, has a lot of respect for the game and people that have gone before him. I think the future is really bright and I think there is a transition for sure about the consistency that is required to play at this level. There are no shortcuts at this level if you want to be a superstar, every game you have to be committed and ready to play and that is a learning process, you can’t teach experience, that has to come through trial and error and being caught along the way and reminded by coaches and players and people around you. I think he is going to be a great player.”
  • What is the biggest need for this team, “I like the moves they made in the offseason and added players with Stanley Cup experience, some size and grit to go with the skillset they have. The one thing I like about the Rangers is that they can score and you pay a premium for scoring because, first, it can cover up a lot of mistakes and second, it allows a team to get through the regular season without having to play on the tough side of the puck for 82 games. You can win some games 5-2, 6-3, 6-4, where you’ve got the lead and I think that if you can score goals easily it’s less taxing on the team, to preserve yourself for the playoffs. It looks like they are putting the pieces in place to really take a run, I think, at the division title this year, that is a big stretch, I know, but I think the Rangers should be a playoff team this year, should be able to challenge for the division title. I think we’ve got to wait for 40 games to see how the new players fit in, the young players are progressing. Shesterkin looks amazing in net, and, of course, the leadership position. They have a Norris Trophy winner and a great goalie, sounds like 1994, doesn’t it? A great goalie, Norris Trophy winner, some good, talented forwards, things are rounding up nicely. Let’s get to the 40 game pole and see how they stand and make the necessary adjustments.”

Messier was on the NHL Network  on 11/1 and said of the Rangers, “They were my darkhorse pick to win the division this year and I know it’s a longshot, but they have a chance. First of all, they have a great goaltender that is coming into his own, a Norris Trophy defensemen in Fox, who reminds me of another #2 on our team that was a pretty good defenseman, who also, I might add, might become one of the top-five best players in the league with the way he is trending. They can score goals, they got a dynamic player in Panarin, some grittiness and veteran leadership. They are starting to get a lot of pieces in place to win games during the regular season. Obviously the playoffs become a different story and they will have to learn some hard lessons there, but I expect them to be in the playoffs this year and take a run at the division lead.”