Time to cut the Moose loose?

As I read the headlines regarding Mark Messier’s sub-par season, I can’t help but remember an old bit from a stand-up comedian. You know, one of those clever “observational humour” types a la Jerry Seinfeld.
He said there comes a time in life when you’ve become a little too old for something. Not very old, just old enough that people start noticing you don’t fit in like you used to.
The comic went on to make fun of late-30 and early-40 year-old single guys who bop around night clubs trying to score a dance with college girls.
I hate to say it, but I think Mark Messier has become that old guy at the club.
For me, the moment came during a highlight package of a New York Rangers game earlier this season. Messier, not surprisingly these days, failed to register a point in the game and the only time they did show him on the highlight reel was when he got bowled over by some player while digging for a puck in the corner. I don’t know what was tougher to watch: the hit itself or the fact Mess could barely hold his own during the corner battle before the hit.
Mess went on to take himself out of the lineup and had shoulder surgery early this month, missing a good portion of the regular season in the process.
This year, Messier has only 23 points in 41 games this year. When I see those numbers and watched him in action, the obvious did come to mind: the guy’s 41 and still managing to keep up with the top hockey league in the world, what more do you want?
The problem is most expected some of that old magic.
Being someone who grew up watching Messier play at a high level while winning six Stanley Cups, it certainly is disheartening. Here’s a guy who was arguably the “total package” in hockey in his prime. The “Moose” could score, hit, and lead–no, will–a team to victory in his prime.
What’s even more sad is that is how many people will remember him when he finally does retire. The thought age can tame the great players is nothing new yet just as equally humbling to their biggest of fans and followers.
• • •
It seems the town–and the district–is really starting to get into the Borderland Thunder frenzy as the first-ever Superior Internation-al Junior Hockey League playoffs begin here tomorrow.
Thunder hats and jerseys are starting to become a little more prevalent these days. And it’s nice to see the kids are getting into the spirit waiting for players at the Memorial Sports Centrer lobby after the game for autographs.
The league’s decision to run best-of-seven series in both rounds is a nice idea. This way, it gives the series a little more time to develop.
Look for the overall hockey in both semi-final series to be turned up a notch from the regular season.
I’m sure that’s what the SIJHL brass want in hopes of winning some more fans in each town.
There’s a lot riding on how well these playoffs turn out.
Remember, while each team was hoping to make a good first impresson in September, last impressions also are key in generating interest for next season.
If you are planning any upcoming sporting events or have any sports related information, feel free to call 274-5373 or drop by the office. You can e-mail me at rvillagracia@fortfrances.com

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