Messier joins Rangers as special assistant

Aug 16 2009 - 9:17pm

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(The Associated Press) Former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier (right) reacts during a ceremony to retire his jersey in Jan
(The Associated Press) Former New York Rangers captain Mark Messier (right) reacts during a ceremony to retire his jersey in Jan

NEW YORK -- Four years after hanging up his skates, Mark Messier's second career is beginning on Broadway.

The captain of the 1994 Stanley Cup champion Rangers, who ended his extraordinary NHL career in September 2005, was named Sunday as a special assistant to president and general manager Glen Sather.

In February 2007, Messier said publicly that he was discussing a front-office job with the club, although Sather -- who served as either coach or general manager of the Edmonton Oilers when Messier won five Cups -- denied that he was ready to step down, saying that Messier would be better served by working his way up the ladder.

Now, at 48, the timing is right for Messier and don't dismiss the possibility that he emerges as the next GM if Sather, 65, eventually steps aside and remains president of the franchise. Messier was traveling from the Bahamas to his home in Hilton Head, S.C., Sunday afternoon and could not immediately be reached for comment.

Messier -- whose No. 11 was retired and raised to the Madison Square Garden rafters Jan. 12, 2006 -- will initially familiarize himself with the organization, starting with Rangers prospects and minor-leaguers.

"I am looking forward to ... having the opportunity to learn a new part of the business, working closely with Glen," Messier said in a statement. "I have felt a strong connection to the Rangers, Madison Square Garden and the city of New York from the moment I arrived in 1991. I am honored to begin this new chapter of my career here."

Messier's appointment was first reported by the New York Post.

Fifth on the Rangers' all-time scoring list with 691 points, Messier is almost deified by former teammates for his leadership qualities. The Edmonton native played for the Rangers from 1991-97 and from 2000-04, and now seems to be following the path of Hall of Fame contemporaries Steve Yzerman and Al MacInnis, who are vice-presidents of their former teams, the Red Wings and Blues.

The Rangers -- who, like Newsday, are owned by Cablevision -- Sunday also reached agreement with another veteran, although Vinny Prospal is still skating.

Prospal, 34, a free-agent left wing who played for coach John Tortorella in Tampa Bay and also for Anaheim, Florida, Philadelphia and Ottawa, agreed to a one-year deal worth about $1.1 million. The Czech winger scored 33 goals in 2007-08, and 19 last year with Tampa -- when he also was a minus-20, one of the league's worst plus-minus stats -- the first season of a four-year, $14-million contract. The 6-2, 194-pound Prospal was bought out of the final three years July 28 and began discussions with several teams, including the Rangers.

Prospal could conceivably play on a line with right wing Marian Gaborik, although one key player from last season -- restricted free agent Brandon Dubinsky -- remains unsigned. Unless Dubinsky -- who rejected a one-year qualifying offer of $698,500 -- is traded, he is expected to compete for the role of No. 1 center at camp, which begins Sept. 12.

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