By all measures, the New York Rangers are a storied NHL franchise. Located in the largest market in North America, this original six NHL team has a rich history and some great players have passed through the "Big Apple". And one the best ever was hockey great Mark Messier
who spent 10 seasons there and lead them to the Stanley Cup championships in 1994; which at that time was the team's first Cup in 54 years. Last week in an elaborate 75 minute ceremony, the New York Rangers retired Messier's number vaunted number "11" into the rafters of a packed Madison Square Gardens. It joined those of former teammate Mike Richter, and earlier stars Eddie Giacomin and Rod Gilbert.
Flanking the former Ranger captain like his right wingers, were most of The Moose's
teammates from the 1994 Stanley Cup championship team and 19 of his family members to his left. In accepting the honour, Messier was his usual emotional self. He spoke to the crowd, stopping several times as he gathered himself. "I will never forget the 10 years I had the honor to be the captain of the New York Rangers. It's been an unbelievable experience playing in New York and to do the things, after the success we had in Edmonton to come here and have success in New York, it was a dream come true," Messier said. "I came here wanting to win the Stanley Cup, and what I got was a life of experience."
The game following the ceremony pitted the Rangers against Messier's former team, the Edmonton Oilers. It went into overtime before Rangers superstar Jaromir Jagr scored early in the extra frame to cap the very special night at Madison Square Gardens.