Hockey Hall Of Famer and the quintessential, ultimate leader, Mark Messier was officially named general manager of Team Canada’s entry at the 2010 World Championships in Germany.
“Mess” won the Hart Trophy twice to go with six Stanley Cup rings.
“Messier, who retired as the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer and was considered the sport’s consummate leader, represented Canada internationally as a player, helping the country to three Canada Cups in 1984, 1987 and 1991.
Over a 25-year NHL career, the rugged forward amassed 1,887 points, second only to Wayne Gretzky and is the only player in the NHL to captain two different organisations to Stanley Cups.”
The lingering question is, in this situation has Messier been set up to excel or fail?
Let’s take a glance at both sides of the equation.
*Will Messier succumb to the pressure and expectations to name Wayne Gretzky as head coach?
Eric Duhatschek of the Globe And Mail reported the two would be a natural fit, but I’m not so sure. Is Gretzky truly the best man for the job out of all the candidates out there? While Gretzky is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever to lace ‘em up, the jury is out on how his superhuman hockey IQ and on-ice vision translates behind the bench. I am of the mind that Messier will plot his own course here and go in a different direction than the Great One.
*Experts and fans alike predict, given this will also be an Olympic year, recruiting players will be a major challenge come May 2010.
Not much more explanation needed here. However, this point is a double-edged sword and the potential positive influence of Messier will be noted below.
*What will this version of Team Canada have to achieve to be considered a success?
To many hockey fans, the Worlds are an afterthought, but there are those (myself included) who enjoy tracking the tourney, even though it is in the midst of the most gruelling sports playoffs on the planet. It is an important tournament in Europe, especially for the host country. In the 21st century, Canada has claimed 3 gold medals – most recently in 2007. Team Canada has also medalled 6 out of the last 7 years. The bar has been set for “the Moose” and crew.
*Under the tutelage of Hockey Canada team members such as President Bob Nicholson and Vice President Johnny Misley, Messier has a fantastic support group.
Hockey Canada has charted and navigated a brilliant course for Team Canada entries in international hockey tournaments at all levels in recent history. Messier will be placed in a situation to succeed, but will be unable to take all the credit even if all expectations are met, given the outstanding support he will receive.
*Messier has bided his time, carefully analyzing his post-playing opportunities and choosing wisely.
“The Moose” took on the role as special assistant to the New York Rangers this past summer and has made it known he’d like to be in a hockey management position that. I cannot imagine him being forced into naming Gretzky , or anyone else for that matter, coach. Messier understands team chemistry and all the elements required for a team to be a winner. Messier simply knows winning. Over the coming months, expect Messier to be closely monitoring NHL playoff races and which players may or may not be at his disposal. Which brings me to my next point…
*Who is actually going to say no to “Mess”?
The most brilliant part of Hockey Canada naming Messier as GM is the fact they may have exponentially increased their ability to recruit players for this tournament. Saying no to one of the greatest leaders the sporting world has known will not be easy, to say the least.
It’s much too early to speculate about which players will be available and likely to accept Messier’s and Team Canada invitations. When it’s all said and done, however, love him or hate him, it’s hard to imagine “the Moose” not excelling at any level of hockey, no matter the role he’s placed in.