Today is the Mark Messier made a promise or better yet, a guarantee that his New York Rangers would win game 6. 27 years later it still reverberates thorough this fanbase like a bolt of lightning, sparking great memories to every member of the Blueshirt Faithful.
Mark Messier’s Guarantee
The New Jersey Devils patiently stalked and beat the Rangers in back to back games to take a 3-2 series lead and put the Rangers on the brink of elimination. By this time Mike Keenan and Neil Smith weren’t even talking. The players were pretty fed up too.
In game 4, Keenan sat Leetch for over 15 minutes. He pulled Richter after only 2-0 and benched Messier as well. What the hell was he doing? Teaching a lesson in the Eastern Conference Finals? This was a Ranger nightmare.
The players were so despondent after the game 5 loss, Messier knew he had to do something. So he told his team that he would talk to Keenan and get their message across. Mess appealed to his stubborn head coach, “We’ve got a great opportunity here, we’re so close. We just have to win this series and we’ll win the Cup. You need to give us every chance to win.” According to the Captain, the message was well received. However, the Rangers were down and needed a lift. They got it the day of game 6 when they saw the headline “WE’LL WIN TONIGHT”.
Game Six is easily the greatest Rangers playoff game in franchise history. The start of the game didn’t help as the home team Devils poured it on the Rangers. Before you knew it, they took a 2-0 lead. It was a terrible feeling on the Rangers bench all the way to everyone’s couch at home.
Then the Captain took over. First by setting up Alexei Kovalev to get the Rangers on the board late in the 2nd. That goal, for the first time all game put doubt in every Devils’ players mind. In the third period, Messier completed a game for the ages scoring a hat-trick. The game winner was so impressive as he drove not only the puck past Brodeur but Bernie Nicholls too. The Rangers were going home to play game 7.
A game for the ages by a Ranger for the ages.
“I felt that [guaranteeing a win] would be a great way to let my players know that I believed we could go in there and win Game 6, because we had beaten them six times during the regular season — three times in their building,”NHL.com