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A tribute to NHL retirees

By Josh Geller

Section: Sports

September 23, 2005

In the last month, three great players retired from professional hockey. Star Defender Al MacInnis, Defender Scott Stevens, Center Ron Francis, and Center Mark Messier all hung up their skates. MacInnis, Francis, and Messier will probably reach the Hall of Fame when they are eligible.

MacInnis played 23 years in the NHL. The first 13 were with Calgary;

the other ten with St. Louis. He won his only Stanley Cup in 1989 with Calgary and won the Norris Trophy for the best Defender in 1999 while with St. Louis.

Throughout his career, MacInnis scored 340 goals and had 1274 total points, good enough for 3rd all-time among defenders. Throughout his career, he was a feared offensive weapon. When it came to the playoffs, he was better.

Stevens played for 22 seasons in the NHL, with the majority of them for the New Jersey Devils. He was a 13-time all-star that participated in the most games of any defender in the history of the NHL. He was known for his rugged style of play and won three Stanley Cups with the Devils.

Francis took part in 23 seasons in the NHL. He spent equal time with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh, and Carolina (the former Whalers). Francis won the Stanley Cup twice with Pittsburgh in the early 1990s. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship three times.

Francis 1249 career assist ranks second to only Wayne Gretzky. He also has appeared in the third most total of games in NHL history. His 1798 points ranks fourth all-time.

Messier played 25 seasons, mostly with Edmonton and then the New York Rangers. He won two Hart Trophies as the leagues most valuable player. He was an all-star more than a dozen times.

He won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton. His sixth Cup came with the Rangers in 1994 when he gave the city their first hockey championship in 54 years. When he accomplished this, he became the first and only player to captain two different teams that won the championship.

Messiers career ranks in the top ten of several major categories. He is second all-time in games played. His 694 goals rank 7th all-time. He has 1193 career assists, 3rd all-time. He is second in career points to only Wayne Gretzky.

The three players all ended their careers significantly. MacInnis and Stevens both left their last games with injuries, an eye and a head injury respectively. Francis scored a goal and had an assist in his final game. Messier ended his career with a heros sendoff. He scored his 694th career goal in his final game at Madison Square Garden and finished the game with cheers from the audience and the opposing team from Buffalo.
MacInnis will join the St. Louis front office. Stevens will stay with the New Jersey Devils in some capacity. Francis is unsure of his future, but his number will be retired by Carolina. Messier will have his number retired by the Rangers in a game against Edmonton on January 12th of 2006.

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