Sunday, November 11, 2007

Growing up Messier

This is all a riff off of something Lowetide posted tonight, so perhaps it's best you also go say a kind "hello" to him.

Back in the mid-'70s, before I was around, Doug Messier was the coach of the Junior A Spruce Grove Mets, which was a pretty dominant team in those days. They hosted the Centennial Cup in 1975 in nearby Edmonton, and won with more than a little help from the coach's son in a starring role.

Messier Jr. had already set a regular season record — the most points by a 16-year-old with 101.

Two years later, Doug's other son, three years younger, made his way to the Mets at age 15. The team relocated and became the St. Albert Saints the next year, but father and Son #2 were still on board, and the second 16-year-old Messier managed a respectable 25 goal, 74 point season.

Turns out he was a late-bloomer.

Paul Messier

Age Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
15 1973-74 Edmonton Mets AJHL 59 37 39 76 43
16 1974-75 Edmonton Oil Kings WCHL 1 2 0 2 0
16 1974-75 Spruce Grove Mets AJHL 57 45 56 101 48
17 1975-76 Edmonton Oil Kings WCHL 11 1 12 13 2
17 1975-76 Spruce Grove Mets AJHL 44 32 45 77 46
18 1976-77 U. of Denver NCAA 30 15 12 27 46
19 1977-78 U. of Denver NCAA 38 20 31 51 53

Mark Messier

Age Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
15 1976-77 Spruce Grove Mets AJHL 57 27 39 66 91
16 1977-78 St. Albert Saints AJHL 54 25 49 74 194
17 1978-79 Indianapolis Racers WHA 5 0 0 0 0
17 1978-79 Cincinnati Stingers WHA 47 1 10 11 58
18 1979-80 Houston Apollos CHL 4 0 3 3 4
18 1979-80 Edmonton Oilers NHL 75 12 21 33 120
19 1980-81 Edmonton Oilers NHL 72 23 40 63 102

It's endlessly fascinating to me that two brothers could both be stellar junior hockey players, get drafted in the third-round of the NHL draft one year apart, and the one who actually put up less significant numbers in junior hockey became a Hall of Famer.

Paul Messier ultimately played just nine NHL games, despite a tryout with Mark's Oilers in the fall of 1980.

That's not to say the elder Messier can't play, because he went onto a considerable pro career, one that snaked through the CHL, AHL, Germany and Italy. He put up pretty decent numbers, too, notching a point-a-game season with the AHL's Moncton Alpines under Pappy Messier. He was even Jarome Iginla's agent in the early years.

But under awards on the Legends of Hockey site, there are only two notes for Paul Messier: Centennial Cup All-Star Team (1975) and "brother of Mark."


At 9:53 p.m., November 11, 2007, Anonymous nebcanuck said...

I think the key statistic is the PIM. While both had solid ventures, points-wise, I'm willing to bet that Paul was a less-aggressive player in general. Mark more than doubled him in penalties on a yearly basis, according to your chart.

It's not that Mark wasn't talented. He had a scoring touch that made the Oilers' second line deadly. But even I -- who never once saw him play during his heyday -- respect Messier more for his aggressive leadership on top of (and beyond) his scoring. He was a super intimidating presence on the ice, and if he was that much more likely to plow through opposition defensemen and into their net, then that was likely the difference-maker in their careers.

At 1:08 a.m., November 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure Mess was intimidating forward but he is second highest scorer in the NHL history.

His goal against Islanders in ??? finals was as good as it gets. Toews goal is even better but when Mess scored his there wasn't zero tolerance around.

Mess is unbeliavble and I hope he can keep himself together at least a little bit when he - once again - gives credit to everybody else during his speech at HHOF.

At 3:54 a.m., November 12, 2007, Anonymous beingbobbyorr said...

I get the sense that papa Messier (a former minor league player) was a pretty hard-driving guy who expected a lot from his kids.

As a datapoint of one, I grew up with NFL Quarterback Sonny Jurgenson's 2 boys in 60's and 70's Philadelphia, and the older one definitely had more pressure on him to live up to the old man's accomplishments . . . which paved the way for the younger one to relax and turn into the better athlete, which he did.

At 8:42 a.m., November 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, what's the brother up to now? Still in hockey in any aspect?

At 2:24 p.m., November 12, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

In 1980-81 Paul Messier was in the Edmonton system, playing for the Wichita Wind of the CHL. IIRC, he had concussion issues around that time.

Interesting factoid: Paul was born in Nottingham, England. Mark was born in St. Albert, AB. Not sure what took Doug and family to the British Isles.

At 3:30 p.m., November 12, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

Nix that one comment, I'm thinking of Paul Comrie that had concussion issues, in fact they forced him to retire. "Brother Paul", also from a prominent local family, but my own scrambled brain is about 20 years off the mark.

Speaking of name coincidences, did you know that Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey, and Mark Messier all have the same middle name? Given that all three Oiler superstars were born in 1961, I would guess that only one of them was named for Douglas Messier.

At 4:15 p.m., November 12, 2007, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Huh, a popular middle name: It's mine, too.

At 4:48 p.m., November 12, 2007, Blogger Art Vandelay said...

The thing that made Mark better than Paul was "the boyish good looks and curly blond locks."

At 8:43 p.m., November 12, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Went to high school with Paul - he was certainly the better looking of the two.


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