“We were really brought into the league in a team concept. Everything was focused around winning.”
—Mark Messier, NHL Hall of Fame Center
Winning teams always seem to have close-knit crews. Team members have a strong bond. They understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and they work together to achieve their shared goal: winning. Teammates who learn about each other create a band of brothers, a group willing to do whatever it takes to win—not just for themselves, but for the guys standing next to them.
The best leaders go that extra mile to get to know each member of their team, both on and off the field. Case in point: former NHL center Mark Messier. With over a quarter of a century on the ice as a player (1979-2004), he’s the only professional athlete ever to captain two different teams (the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers) to a championship.
Messier’s first four Stanley Cups, with the Oilers, were under the tutelage of captain Wayne Gretzky. He learned from “The Great One” that to win, egos must be set aside for the team.
After Gretzky left Edmonton, Messier wore the “C” on his chest for two more years, leading his team to another Stanley Cup championship in 1990 and winning the Hart Trophy as league MVP. “The Moose” then went to the Big Apple to engineer a turnaround for the New York Rangers.
Four years later, as the Rangers’ captain, Messier hoisted the Stanley Cup for the sixth time. The 15-time NHL All-Star retired after the ’94 season, at the ripe age of 43, finishing second all-time in regular season career points (1,887).
On November 13, 2006, the NHL created the Mark Messier Leadership Award, given to an individual who leads by example on the ice, motivates his teammates and dedicates himself to community activities and charitable causes.
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