I am as a big a Messier fan as any other New Yorker, but I found last night's retirement ceremony to be longer and duller than even the very worst Bar Mitzvah. And the "jokes" those hockey players told were about what I would expect from my Uncle Marvin after his third hit of Chivas.
Still watching, all those old and balding former Rangers flanking their captain, the memories came rushing back. Along with the great moment when Gary Bettman called Messier up to accept Lord Stanley's cup, they include The Guarantee* and, of course, "Matteau, Matteau, Matteau!!!!" the greatest call by an announcer in the history of professional sports. (Not to be confused with "Buy a Porsche Potvin, Buy a Porsche" the greatest cheer in the history of professional sports.**)
* What Messier did was say "I guarantee we'll win tonight," on the eve of a cruicial playoff game, and then went out a threw a hat trick on Martin Brodeur, one of the greatest goaltenders in history. A hat trick.
** Second place in the cheer competition must go to "Two World Wars and One World Cup - doodah, doodah" a chant used by British soccer hooligans to taunt German soccer hooligans. It refers to the fact that England beat Germany in the 1966 World Cup final, in 1944 at the second war to end all wars, and in 1917 at the first war to end all wars. It brings to mind a great line, attributed to Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, who upon being told that Germany had defeated England replied, "They may have beat us at our national game, but we beat them twice at their national game in the 20th century."