When we touched on the mini Mark Messier trade tree a few months ago, it picked up a ton of requests from fans asking for the original deal. As a hockey historian, it’s only fitting to share the incredible story of the Mark Messier trade tree and how one of the greatest players the Rangers have ever iced game to the Garden. From being Gretzky’s right-hand man to delivering on a promise to the New York Rangers fanbase, Mark Messier’s story begins.
A kid from Alberta, Canada, Mark Messier was born on January 18, 1961. Known for leadership and the ability to play at a high level regardless of those around him, the Messiah earned praise as a child, starting his youth hockey career with the Spruce Gorove Mets of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In 57 games as a 16-year-old, Messier had 27 goals and 39 assists for 66 points. The following season with the St. Albert Saints, he had 25 goals, and 49 assists for 74 points in 54 games.
In the 1978-79 season, Messier wanted to play professional hockey but was too young for the NHL. In the modern era, the options would be Europea or go back to junior, but in the late 1970s, there was a fizzling rival of the WHA that just so happened to have a lower age requirement called the WHA. For younger or newer fans, the World Hockey Association was a rival league that did not last very long.
Seeking to play professionally, a desperate team in Indiana called the Indianapolis Racers was looking to replace some kid they’d just traded named Wayne Gretzky. I’m not sure whatever happened to him, and Messier was brought in to fill those shoes. However, after five games, the organization folded due to years of reckless spending. Truthfully, this fate was known before Gretzky’s trade.