I saw this today and it got me thinking as to why Mark Messier is the greatest Captain in the history of the NHL. And, to me it's very simple, I point to the 1989/90 Stanley Cup champs, the (Gretzky-less) Edmonton Oilers. This is the season that galvanized Messier's name as the greatest single leader in NHL history. Yes boys and girls, this was a greater feat than the 1994 Cup Messier helped get for us after 54 years of waiting.
Some of the 1989/90 Oilers: Messier (29 years of age), Kurri (29), Glenn Anderson (29), Tikkanen (25), Craig Simpson (22), Peter Klima (25), Mactavish (31), Gravey (21), Joe Murphy (22), Steve Smith (26), Kevin Lowe (30), Charlie Huddy (30), Beukeboom (24), Bill Ranford (23), and Grant Fuhr (27).
Gone were the days of the early to mid 80s when the Oilers were dominant on their way to winning 4 Cups in a row. For even Grant Fuhr was not the main goalie that won the 1989/90 Cup. Bill Ranford was. Ranford played 56 regular season games to Fuhr's 21 plus Ranford played all the playoff games except for one.
The point is to emphasize what was around Messier during that season. Messier had 45G (26 even strength, 13 PPG, 6 shorties), 84A, +19, and 211 SOG in 79 regular season games. In 22 playoff games, Messier had 9G, 22A, and was a +5.
The affect Messier had on Craig Simpson, Gravey, Murphy, and Ranford was immeasurable, as they became very important young players in the playoffs. Messier basically "willed" this team to a Stanley Cup. This Oilers' team had talent, as you cannot win a championship without it no question, but this was a much different Oilers team that won the Cup that season as compared to the Oiler teams of the early to mid 80s. This was Messier's Cup, plain and simple.
So while we as Ranger fans can thank and appreciate the fact that Messier came here and won a Cup for us after 54 years of torture, which was basically the final nail in the coffin relating to his legacy and aura, it was the 1989/90 Edmonton Oilers team that jumped on the Messier Express and rode him to an unlikely Stanley Cup. One of the greatest singe season performances in all of sports. Thanks for reading.