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NEW YORK (WFAN) — Mark Messier is an NHL legend, but in the Big Apple he may be even more.
Arguably one of the greatest players to ever lace up skates, Messier won six Stanley Cups as a player, including five with the Edmonton Oilers. Yet, the one he won with the Rangers may be viewed as his single greatest achievement.
First acquired on Oct. 4, 1991, Messier carried with him the reputation as the ultimate leader, just the kind of guy needed to help the Rangers end one of professional team sports’ most-talked-about championship droughts.
The Rangers did just that in 1994, putting to rest 54 years of futility with the greatest season in franchise history. Messier had 84 points during the regular season and was nothing short of a monster in the playoffs, recording 30 points in 23 games. With the Rangers down 3-2 heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Devils, Messier famously guaranteed a victory and then recorded a natural hat trick in the third period of New York’s 4-2 win.
The Rangers went on to win the series on Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime goal in the deciding game and then went the distance with the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup Final. Messier provided what turned out to be the Cup-winning goal in the second period as New York held on for a 3-2 victory in Game 7.
Messier left the Rangers via free agency after the 1996-97 season, but returned in 2000 for four more seasons. He finished his brilliant 25-year career with 694 goals, and his 1,887 points are third in NHL history.