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Messier ends 25-year NHL career

NEW YORK -- Mark Messier retired yesterday, capping a 25-year career in which he won six Stanley Cup championships and ranked second only to Wayne Gretzky on the NHL all-time scoring list.

Messier became a star in Edmonton in the 1980s and a headliner on Broadway in the 1990s, captaining the New York Rangers to the 1994 championship that ended the team's 54-year title drought.

''I've had a long career and I've achieved a lot and there was nothing left for me to really achieve," the 44-year-old Messier said. ''It was time for me to move aside and go into something else."

''I've really had the opportunity to take my time and see how I felt physically and emotionally," the two-time MVP said. ''As tough as it to make the decision, I think it's the right one and I feel good about it."

On Jan. 12, the Rangers will retire his No. 11 to the rafters before a game against the Oilers. That will give him a chance to better show his emotions. Messier said he made the announcement on a conference call because ''no one wants to see a blubbering idiot at the podium."

Messier teamed with Gretzky to win four championships in Edmonton during the 1980s and then won another in 1990 after Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles. The 16-time All-Star is the only player to captain two franchises to the Stanley Cup.

He trails only Gretzky in playoff goals and assists, but he topped the Great One by adding one postseason guarantee that took him to heightened status in Manhattan.

With the Rangers trailing New Jersey, 3-2, in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals, Messier promised New York would force a seventh game. He made good on his word by posting his fourth and final playoff hat trick in a 4-2 victory.

New York won Game 7 in double overtime to advance to the finals, which also ended with a seventh-game victory.

His second stint with the Rangers, which covered the final four seasons of his career, wasn't nearly as successful. New York failed to make the playoffs in any of the years. Messier played in the postseason during his first 13 NHL years, before New York missed in 1993.

He leaves with 1,887 NHL regular-season points, 970 fewer than Gretzky and 37 more than Gordie Howe, who sits in third place.

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