1. Forward Mark Messier
“The Messiah.” That is all.
Obviously there is a lot more to say to Mark Messier than that, but it’s a great start when talking about The Captain.
When he was traded for in 1991, it was clear who would lead the Blueshirts to victory. Fans and the organization knew that Messier would lead them to a Stanley Cup.
It was not easy at first, not achieving the goal of a championship in his first two seasons, but it would come, cementing the Spring of ’94 as the best season New York Rangers fan may ever have.
No. 11 was the person coaches would look to for everything. A big goal in the dying minutes of a game, a massive hit along the boards to change the dynamic, and even the occasional fight to stir the team up. That was all Messier.
If these actions aren’t enough to show what the best leader in New York Rangers history is, let us remember this anecdote.
In 1994 Messier’s “Guarantee” was posted all over New York newspapers. As the Rangers were losing the series to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals, Messier guaranteed that the Blueshirts would come out on top and force a Game 7.
He scored a hat trick that game.
The motto, “the name on the front of the jersey is a lot more important than the name on the back” describes Messier perfectly. He showed heart in everything he did.
It came as no surprise when the New York Rangers would retire Messier’s No. 11 and hang it in the rafters of Madison Square Garden.
It was his relentless effort that made him a fan-favorite, as well as fans of other teams he played for. Whether it was playing on the ice at Madison Square Garden or having number rise to the rafters, Messier remained loyal to who he was. He was the single greatest leader, and captain, in New York Rangers history.