Dear Mark Messier
Why did you decide to play another year with the Rangers? I have been very concerned about the welfare of the team again this season and your return puts the nail in the coffin, so to speak.
This is an old and unhealthy team. I know you are certain to become enshrined in hockey’s hallowed Hall of Fame and you are provide great leadership on the ice, but these things are for teams with youth in need of guidance, not an aged group of players that appear to be shoved together out of happenstance and a large wallet instead of by plan.
You are 42 years old and will now be entering your 25th NHL season. I know age is relative, but last year you played in 78 games and managed a mere 18 goals and 22 assists. I would not want to be the person to lay claim to a team with a captain who should be a fourth line centre.
The Rangers have missed the playoffs a club-record six straight times and the team looks doomed to make it seven. This is a team that should be spending these “down” years rebuilding with youth, not laying out large sums of cash for players that won’t get them to the quest for Lord Stanley’s cup. I don’t know for certain what you signed for, but I do know your salary last season was $3.9 million.
I can understand your desire to play. After all, you are the points leader among active players and you are third all-time, trailing only former teammate Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe (and you are only six points behind Howe). What troubles me is that you signed with the Rangers when there may actually be a few teams out there that could use your experience. The question that comes to mind is: Do the teams that could use you have the money to sign you?