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Fanspeak: Messier voted greatest Ranger in franchise history

Aug 19, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

Mark Messier Getty Images

This summer, NBC Sports’ social media team is conducting the #NHLGreatest initiative, designed for fans to choose the best player in each franchise’s history. Balloting was conducted through three platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — with thousands of votes being cast. The results of this initiative will be released throughout the month of August, in conjunction with PHT’s Team of the Day series.

New York Rangers

1. Mark Messier — 957 votes

2. Brian Leetch — 641 votes

3. Mike Richter — 314 votes

4. Wayne Gretzky — 291 votes

5. Henrik Lundqvist — 155 votes

6. Rod Gilbert — 113 votes

There was really only one choice to make here, wasn’t there?

Yes, Rod Gilbert is the franchise leader in goals and points and a Hockey Hall of Famer. Yes, Brian Leetch was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 1994 and Mike Richter was the goalie that helped make that Stanley Cup championship happen that year, but Mark Messier was the captain.

Messier’s guarantee the Rangers would win Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final in 1994 against the New Jersey Devils was the stuff of legend and earned him the nickname of “Messiah.” It was backed up by seeing him score a hat trick and force a legendary Game 7 that was capped off by Stephane Matteau’s double-overtime winner past Martin Brodeur.

What seemed to by mythology about Messier’s leadership came to fruition as the Rangers battled back against New Jersey and then slipped past Pavel Bure’s Vancouver Canucks in seven games in the Final. Hell, Messier even has his own award he dishes out annually for leadership based not upon the five Stanley Cups he won in Edmonton but the one he got in New York.

Wayne Gretzky had a fine final run with the Rangers and perhaps the best of Henrik Lundqvist’s legacy is yet to come in Manhattan, but when you think of the Rangers it’s Messier’s face taking the Cup from Gary Bettman that’s forever emblematic of the franchise.

  1. elrock7 - Aug 19, 2014 at 7:36 PM

    HaHa, really?

  2. bullwinkle88 - Aug 19, 2014 at 7:43 PM

    A lot of people voting never saw Jean Ratelle play like I did. That’s why he’s not in the top 3.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Or 17 year Ranger, HHoF D-man Harry Howell.
      But the only captain to be handed the Cup in the last 70+ years, well…

  3. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Aug 19, 2014 at 7:45 PM

    nick fotiu

  4. lowenni - Aug 19, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Brian Leetch. People forget it was he who won the Conn Smythe that Stanley Cup winning year–everyone talks about Messier’s promise instead, but you could easily say they wouldn’t have been there without Leetch. One of the best defenseman to ever play the game, and, the real greatest Ranger.

  5. terrier92 - Aug 19, 2014 at 8:28 PM

    Wow folks voting seem not to have full historical perspective. I had the great pleasure of watching both Brad Park and Jean Ratelle play for Boston Bruins live and Rangers on tv and I will tell you they were outstanding players. Ratelle was as smooth a player as I ever saw. A true gentleman. Park even with bad knees was the best I have ever seen at playing point and keeping puck in the zone. Guy could stick handle in a phone booth . I say this also having seen both Orr and Bourque throughout their careers. Messier was great but no excuse for not including Ratelle and Park.

  6. giacommin - Aug 19, 2014 at 8:45 PM

    Eddie Eddie Eddie Eddie

  7. 950003cups - Aug 19, 2014 at 8:56 PM

    He’s not even a ranger. He’s a life long Oiler. Brian Leetch should be a close 2nd to Richter. Rod Gilbert is up in there too. Just goes to show you how rags fans don’t really know much about their own team except “we have more fans than you” LOLOL.

    • 19to77 - Aug 20, 2014 at 1:03 AM

      You know, I get rivalries. I do. But aren’t you, individually, just a little TOO hung up on all matters Rangers? I swear you pay more attention to them than your own team. Seriously, you made three posts in this thread and two of them say the same thing. What’s up with that?

      • 950003cups - Aug 20, 2014 at 9:07 AM

        I think you’re a bit too hung up on me. This is the umpteenth time you made a comment trying to talk to me. Get a puppy, or maybe a pet rock. But just stop trying to make yourself sound cool. It’s not working.

    • trolltoll11 - Aug 20, 2014 at 11:44 AM

      You really are as big of a d-bag as you come off to be aren’t ya?

  8. BobbyLashleyFanboy - Aug 19, 2014 at 9:55 PM

    You know you had a helluva career when you win a fistful of stanley cups rings with one team then go to another and get voted as their best player in franchise history.

  9. 950003cups - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:20 PM

    Most “ranger fans” have no idea that in 1994 it was Brian Leetch who won the Conn Smythe or even what that award is. If it weren’t for Leetch and Richter, we’re all still chanting “1940”. Messier was great in the Devils series. But not enough to win the Conn Smythe (playoff MVP for all “ranger fans” who know ugotz about hockey)

  10. 950003cups - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Plus Messier is an Edmonton Oiler. 5 rings there vs 1 in NY. Amazing how much his butt is kissed for that one cup.

    However, do not make the mistake that I don’t hold him as one of the best to ever play the game. Just not really a ranger according to his resume.

  11. blomfeld - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:37 PM


    Notwithstanding his one night stand with Madonna, this ‘disgusting’ Canadian fruitcake replete with his ‘twisted’ fetish for wearing women’s pantyhose in bed, is perhaps the ‘worst’ Ranger in franchise history! I mean seriously, how can this ‘cross-dressing’ AC/DC freak even be in the same conversation with such ‘glorious’ Ranger greats of the past like Park, Ratelle, Hadfield, Gilbert, or Giacomin ?


  12. actuary17 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:38 PM

    Yeah, as a Rangers fan who was young in 1994, I would have gone with Leetch easily. It’s hard for me to compare to the older guys, but Leetch was a great player for so long with the Rangers. I love what Mark Messier did for that team, so he will always have a special place in Rangers history. But you have to give it to Leetch in my mind.

  13. mzim2756 - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    Leetch 1, Gilbert 2, messier was great but not enough time, the fact that Gretzky is 4th proves this is a joke

    • clarke16 - Aug 22, 2014 at 3:43 AM

      The biggest joke of all is no mention whatsoever of Phil Esposito…

  14. florida76 - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:41 AM

    Weird to see an Original Six team with all those decades of existence more than others not have a homegrown player on the short list of greatest ever. Leetch was great, but not at the same level of a Bobby Orr.

    Given all the advantages of playing decades before many other franchises, an objective observer would have to come at the inevitable conclusion the Rangers have underachieved from both a Cup winning and homegrown great player standpoint.

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