I've debunked the Mark Messier myth on this blog a few times; it's not that I don't respect the man - he was, after all, the centerpiece of the New York Rangers' historic 1994 Stanley Cup run; he also captained the Edmonton Oilers to their only post-Wayne Gretzky championship in 1990, making him the only player in NHL history to captain two teams to the Cup.
But there's no way he gets to second in all-time scoring ahead of Gordie Howe if he doesn't play on the 1980s Oilers. He wasn't even the second-best Oiler on his team - that was Jari Kurri. In that regard, I was doubly happy when Jaromir Jagr surpassed his mark earlier this week.
And that compliment that Gretzky bestowed upon him, "the greatest leader in all sports"? Come on! If he was that great a leader, how do you explain his disastrous run with the Vancouver Canucks, where he was handed the captaincy right off of Trevor Linden's chest and insisted on wearing his usual #11 despite the fact that the team had retired it for deceased player Wayne Maki? The Canucks rightfully failed to make the playoffs in all three seasons he was there, resulting in two head coaches (Tom Renney and Mike Keenan) and one general manager (Hall Of Famer Pat Quinn) losing their jobs in that short span.
He also had a tendency to be mean and dirty, his elbows high and his stick always ready to disappear in someone's rib cage. Not unlike Howe, come to think of it.
But man, the longevity. 25 seasons spread over four decades; 1992 overall games, 1767 of them in the regular season, 11 less than Howe (who played longer in the WHA, hence the discrepancy). Messier was also the last player from the WHA - and last to have played in the 1970s - to retire.
Though he never won a scoring title, he has two Hart trophies and Lester B. Pearson Awards (1990 and 1992) to go with his 1984 Conn Smythe, and was a 15-time All-Star Game participant. He's the only active player to have played in an official Winter Classic/Heritage Classic alumni game (2004).
He almost hit round-number milestones for career goals (694) and assists (1193). Cementing his reputation as a big-game player are his postseason statistics, with 109 goals and 186 assists for 295 points in 236 games, although his teams failed to make the playoffs in his final seven seasons in the NHL, where his least productive years thus did not affect his career totals.
Here's a very special card which first appeared in In The Game's 2012-13 Decades - The 1990s set, as part of the Game-Used Jersey sub-set, which features a fairly large white game-worn jersey swatch