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60-year-old broadcast rookie Messier ready to become America’s voice of hockey

“My hope is that hockey is the winner,” mentioned the very busy Messier

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The wooing of Mark Messier, in spite of everything these years, started with a telephone name, then one other name, moved to a restaurant, then one other meal, and ended up in a board room with a signature and a model new profile.

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Give or take a minute, it’s been 17 years since Messier performed within the Nationwide Hockey League, 27 years since he received his sixth Stanley Cup — are you able to think about that? — and now right here he’s, simply days away from being a prime-time participant once more — this time on tv, this time on the most important community in all of sports activities.

This sort of factor doesn’t occur in different sports activities. In soccer, Tony Romo goes from taking part in quarterback to one of the best color analyst in a single yr. In baseball, Large Papi, David Ortiz goes from taking part in for the Crimson Sox to speaking on tv. The whole lot is present.

The brand new hockey season begins in america with two new networks and a lot promise and the most important stars of a generation-long gone will now be requested to introduce hockey to People on networks which have largely ignored the sport up to now. The boys of winters passed by — Messier and Wayne Gretzky on TNT — are the outdated stars and the brand new obvious stars of hockey nights in America.

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They had been the best 1-2 centre mixture in hockey historical past, so totally different, so particular, so gifted, so intense, beginning out as youngsters in Edmonton on probably the most proficient workforce of the previous 40 years. However that was a very long time in the past. Gretzky received his final Stanley Cup in 1988 with the Oilers. Messier went on to win yet another in Edmonton, and the large celebrated victory in New York, which he will likely be identified for perpetually.

Now the 2 60-year-olds, born eight days aside in January of 1961, are the outdated stars of a brand new enterprise. Two giants studying on the job late in life.

“My hope is that hockey is the winner,” mentioned the very busy Messier in a prolonged interview. “I feel Wayne has such superb perspective and particular person perspective concerning the recreation and I feel I share that with him. My hope is we are able to elevate the sport, get extra folks , get extra girls and boys eager to play, be academic and entertaining, and for probably the most half, elevate the sport.

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“I’m a giant fan of Wayne’s as you recognize from the time we had been 18 years olds taking part in collectively. ”

And now a brand new starting for each on a stage neither has actually identified earlier than.

When ESPN started speaking to Messier, they wished to know what he knew about in the present day’s NHL. They had been blown away by his team-by-team data. They requested questions and extra questions and he saved arising with the correct solutions.

“What have I been doing the previous 20 years? Watching hockey each evening in the course of the season,” mentioned Messier. “That’s what I do. So now, I’ll be watching it from a studio and speaking about it with my buddies. I’ll have issues to study (tv). I don’t should study hockey or the NHL. That comes naturally.

“The great factor for me is, usually I’ve been watching from house. Bristol, Connecticut, the place ESPN is, about an hour’s drive from my home. The situation is ideal. The whole lot simply appears to be feeling snug about this.”

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Messier makes his debut Tuesday evening, sitting on a panel alongside Monday Evening Soccer’s Steve Levy and one other veteran NHLer, Chris Chelios. If Messier and Chelios are as opinionated and recent as they’re in individual, they need to thrive on tv.

“It’s not like I’ve been out of hockey,” mentioned Messier. “I’ve my award, so I comply with the league carefully yearly. I’m to see (Alex) Ovechkin and (Sidney) Crosby as veterans simply as I’m at first of (Connor) McDavid, (Auston) Matthews, and (Nathan) MacKinnon. There are quite a lot of stars within the NHL proper now. Tons to speak about.

“I instructed the folks at ESPN, if I do that, I wish to be good at it. I’ve no ego on this. I wish to be coached and helped and educated in it. I’ve quite a lot of respect for the folks I’m working with and dealing for. I’m excited to get going.”

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Don’t anticipate him to be Charles Barkley, whom he tremendously admires as a tv character. As a child, when he was a Celtics fan and his brother was a Lakers fan in Alberta, he used to stroll round the home imitating Mike Fratello, the coach turned broadcaster. “I used to be mesmerized by him,” mentioned Messier. “I didn’t know that a lot about basketball however I used to be studying the sport and he was instructing it to me.”

Now it’s his flip to be the instructor. A broadcasting rookie nearing his senior years. Hockey has been his life and that zeal has by no means left him.

“I’m going to provide it my finest shot,” mentioned Messier, third all-time in NHL scoring, third all-time in video games performed. “That’s all I’ve ever executed. That’s all I do know.”

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