TORONTO -- Once Mark Messier lost his fierce
competitiveness, he knew it was time to retire from the NHL.
Messier said in his first extended public comments since
announcing his retirement Sept. 12 that he couldn't summon that
famous will to win for another season.
"A big part of me felt like I had had enough, achieved as much
as I could achieve and I didn't feel there was a lot more for me to
play for," the 44-year-old Messier said during an interview aired
Saturday on CBC's "Hockey Night in Canada."
"When I did play the most important thing for me was to win.
And maybe winning just wasn't as important as it once was and I
think once I really came to terms with that, that was kind of the
deciding factor for me."
A two-time league MVP (1990 and '92), Messier finished his
career with 694 goals, 1,193 assists, 1,887 points and 1,910
penalty minutes in 1,756 games over 25 seasons.
Messier ranks second only to Wayne Gretzky in scoring, but he
was best known for his locker-room leadership during six Stanley
Cup championships, five with the Edmonton Oilers and another with
the New York Rangers.
But Messier said his edge was sapped by his four final years
with the New York Rangers, when the team struggled each season and
failed to make the playoffs.
"It was bitterly disappointing the way the last four years
went," he said.
Messier announced his retirement in a brief conference call with
the media. He said he wanted to make a quiet exit from the NHL
because he didn't want a public display of emotion at a time when
Hurricane Katrina was devastating the southeastern United States
"I didn't really think it was the right time to make a public
display of Mark Messier retiring while all the suffering and things
that were going down there were at the same time," he said.