Why do you think Messier rarely had opponents retaliate against him?

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Big Phil, Jan 2, 2019.

  1. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Mark Messier fought 62 times in his career. That's a good chunk of fights and most of them happened when he was an Oiler. But there is one common theme in his career and it is that of all the cheap shots Messier threw it wasn't even close to parallel the fights he had. For instance, how many times did Messier throw an elbow only to not have someone drop the gloves? Even in his final season he spears Martin Strbak in the groin (gets suspended for it) and no one even breathes on him for that.

    I have my theories on it, I think Messier carved out a reputation as being crazy and doing anything to win and that would elicit fear in opponents. Even with that in mind, it still doesn't answer the question entirely as to why there weren't more opponents that went after him when a dirty play happened to stick up for a teammate. For some reason Messier could almost just stand there knowing there was rarely someone that would challenge him.

    I know some people will post the video of Messier and Robinson in 1981 jarring with each other. Messier showing he wanted no part of Robinson but still swinging his stick at him. Here it is:

    So there is that, but why doesn't Robinson just drop him there? He's a 20 year old kid against a wily veteran. What stopped Robinson from fighting him there? I think most of us take Robinson in a fight vs. Messier. Maybe Robinson was thinking about the score of the game, who knows, the Habs lost that series convincingly.
     
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  2. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    Robinson was too smart and too good of a player to go off for 5 against a 19 year old messier.
     
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  3. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Mark Messier -- and I'm talking the real Mark Messier c.1981 to 1996, not the post '96 Messier, which is like the difference between Eddie Murphy Raw and Eddie Murphy as Doctor Doolittle -- was the real thing, old skool style. He was the reincarnation of Eddie Shore (also from Edmonton). He would do anything to win, and if that meant clobbering an opponent, then that opponent would be clobbered.

    The thing with Messier is that he rarely went off completely, but when he did, he really went off. He was one of those guys for whom the game was larger than life (that changed a bit after the '94 Cup win when the big contracts started coming in), and opponents knew that about him. So, they were wary.

    I dunno, he was fearsome.
     
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  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Registered User

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    Remember at the end of Unforgiven when Clint Eastwood is riding out of town and there's those two dudes whohave him in their gunsights but hesitate and then decide against taking a shot because what happens if they miss?

    That's Messier.

    He was almost impossible to knock off his skates, always had his head up, and had a sneaky Howe-esque habit of acting like he didn't see a hit coming and then 'accidentally' getting an elbow or a stick blade into the mouth of the incoming player. And even if you did get him, he was wild and crazy and there was a good chance his retribution would be over-the-top and vicious.
     
  5. wetcoast

    wetcoast Registered User

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    This and most opponents had something Moose was missing and that's class.
     
  6. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Registered User

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    Well, maybe he should've because a lot of the Oilers point to that exchange as the moment when they stopped being intimidated by the vaunted Canadiens and started to believe they could compete against them.

    Considering how that series ended, five minutes should've been the least of his worries.
     
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  7. ehhedler

    ehhedler thus edler

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    Peak late 80s early 90s Messier had a weird combination of (goonish) fear factor and elder statesman respect.
     
  8. MadLuke

    MadLuke Registered User

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    My first thought the first time I saw that video, I supposed the fear of getting hit by an hockey stick in the face by a psychopath ?

    And did put a bit why he got away with so much (before getting away with stuff because he was a skating legend).
     
  9. x BEUKEBOOM x

    x BEUKEBOOM x Buuuuuuuuuuuk !

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    Eh, even post 96 Messier just DGF.

    Won't get into the Barnaby, Simon, Asham scrum but near chokes Blake to death with his own jersey. All nonchalant too.

     
  10. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    Yeah I don't think his job as the #1 D man of a team is fighting some puke kid(at the time) who scored 50 points in one of the highest scoring years in NHL history.

    The habs probably should have sent Nilan after him.
     
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  11. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    They probably should have done SOMETHING at least. Granted, the Habs were older by then, but when you have a promise from your starting goalie that Lafleur is going to put Gretzky in his "back pocket" then you should do anything to win. Maybe Robinson didn't want to go after him right there, but later in the game drop the mitts with him if only to prove a point and not be intimidated.

    Blake's face was as red as an apple. Moose really did practically choke him with his own sweater.
     
  12. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

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    what i'd like to know is why are the refs just letting a 20 year old messier who hasn't proved anything in the league yet swing his stick like that at a two-time norris winning future hall of famer with a decade of respected service?

    like, can you imagine them letting the young tkachuk swing his stick like that at ray bourque in 1993? or if matt tkachuk pulled that on chara today? the refs would tackle him right then and there and drag him off the ice before chara changes his mind and squishes him like a bug.

    but as for the rest of the question, iirc messier had a reputation for being the strongest guy in the league. i remember early on in lindros' rookie year there was this quote from another player to the effect of "i thought mark messier was strong, but this lindros kid is unlike anything i could have imagined." i always found that odd, that it wasn't some giant like otto or hatcher, or a head smasher like probert, and this was a league that had a post-breakthrough gary roberts in it, peak kevin stevens, cam neely, all guys that were bigger, beefier guys than messier. but up to lindros, he was still the gold standard.

    and when you also factor in his psychoness, that's not a dude you want to screw with.

    when i watch old tape of young messier, the pre-star version, he already had this aura to him. you can see it in the robinson video as he's jawing away. his body language, the cocky way he carried himself, nonchalantly wearing that bucket helmet too low on his head, looking like the young matt dillon, all cheekbones like he should be smoking a cigarette out there on the ice. the lingering 35-40 year old mancrushes, i get it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    by the time messier was messier (i mean 80s dynasty pre-baldy version), he was all scowly, more like the ultimate warrior, huffing around all shoulders and jaw.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    i hated that guy.
     
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  13. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Fair points. Maybe the refs figured Robinson WAS going to squish him like a bug and let it go. The Oilers were a cocky young team then, remember Denis Potvin hated them with a passion for those very reasons too. It is just weird to see that sort of footage against a guy like Robinson. Who the heck had guts to do that to him? I wouldn't even say Dave Schultz would have because Robinson had smacked him around already. So is it possible Robinson was scared of Messier? That's hard to believe, but you are right about Messier being ultra strong. He was just pure muscle out there. Not the tallest guy in the world at 6'1" and there were others that weighed more than him but he was strong in the way Tim Horton was strong, just completely rock solid all around. I have a hard time believing Robinson was scared of anyone, but who knows, maybe he was wondering who the heck this kid was.
     
  14. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    I seriously doubt Robinson was intimidated by Messier, lol.
     
  15. ehhedler

    ehhedler thus edler

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    Yep. And he could do things like that, like choke a midget non-fighter not fighting back, with his own jersey, and most of his fans, of which there were/are a few, would just

    "Yeah, but he did everything in his power to win..., like... big deal..., greatest leader in sports history..."
     
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  16. The Panther

    The Panther Registered User

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    Incidentally, I remember a hockey picture book from 1985, in which Larry Robinson specifically named Messier and Anderson as two players he respected a lot and loved being challenged by due to their speed.
     
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  17. streitz

    streitz Registered User

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    Well he was good at winning, one of the best at it.


    He was dirty and I hated him but he could play on my team any day.
     
  18. Dennis Bonvie

    Dennis Bonvie Registered User

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    Robinson never wanted to fight. Anybody. Never mind a crazy kid like Messier.
     
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  19. x BEUKEBOOM x

    x BEUKEBOOM x Buuuuuuuuuuuk !

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    Blake was a chippy little shart who liked to use his stick during and after plays. He wasn't a fighter, but he wasn't clean either. As a Rangers fan he had that coming for a few years IIRC.

    And you're right. And we own it. Cult NHL was the best NHL till million dollar contracts and Bettman convoluted the purity and the sport of it.
     
  20. Stephen

    Stephen Registered User

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    I think Messier's intimidation and creative dirtiness is a good example to young star players how to create a little more space for yourself.
     
  21. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

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    Most of the time Robinson didn't need to. He got a lot of miles by beating Schultz in a fight early in his career. Plus he was big and a hard hitter to begin with. I just wonder on this play though.
     
  22. blood gin

    blood gin Registered User

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    Creative dirtiness is a good way to put it. Ever so often Messier did go ballistic and it looked like he was going to murder a guy, and people remember that, but the rest of the time he was very crafty with his elbows, but ends, getting his stick up at you when you went to hit him. And yes eventually this earned him space. First off he was a very strong guy generally so I feel that if some guys went after him the fear was he'd come back at them eventually with one of these

    [​IMG]

    Also Messier never really went after guys bigger and stronger than him with some of his more vicious attacks. Robinson was a rare early one. But Robinson in his day stood about 6'4 230. That's huge now forget 1981. Plus Robinson was perhaps the strongest guy in the league and very intimating when he lost his temper. He peeled the paint off the walls

    Robinson never wanted to engage in any of that stuff. But when he did lose it, he was a scary dude

    Ask the 2000 Devils when they fell behind to the Flyers 3-1. Robinson flew in such a fit of rage that even guys like Stevens and Daneyko were like...woah
     
  23. Merya

    Merya Jokerit & Finland; anti-theist

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    Mess was a funny mix of star player and borderline goon. In Edmonton he was protected by proxy, goons ready to avenge Wayne were ready to get into pugilism for Mark as well. Later rules were in somewhat confusion, noone knew exactly what could be done in mid 90s until lockout 04-05. Stevens for example should've been wailed upon by several guys after "killing" Kariya, but time had changed.
     
  24. jumptheshark

    jumptheshark Rebooting myself Sponsor

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    great analogy
     
  25. Spirit of McMullen

    Spirit of McMullen Registered User

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    Messier literally broke Jamie Macoun's face in the early 80's, got suspended for it and Macoun did go after him several times thereafter and they did have several fights. Found this discussion about it from here, 4 years ago and one of the subsequent fights:

    Mark Messier Sucker Punch On Jamie Macoun

     

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