|Messier, Francis, MacInnis put thoughts into preparing Hall of Fame speeches|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 09 November 2007 14:16|
Messier, the six-time Stanley Cup winner with the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers, has been preparing for Monday most of his life. So there is no need to sit down and put thoughts and feelings to paper.
``I haven't really been writing a speech and I've never really written any speeches,'' the 46-year-old told The Associated Press. ``What I've always tried to do is just try to figure out what's important. It's very simple for me. I don't need to write it. I could write it and read it, but sometimes the fewer the words are better and mean more.''
Messier has been known to get emotional in public, painting quite a different picture than the one of the man with the rock-hard jaw who was the ultimate tough competitor on the ice. He didn't hold back tears when he returned to Madison Square Garden with the Vancouver Canucks, or when he retired from the NHL, or when his No. 11 was raised to the rafters by the Oilers and Rangers.
No notes were needed for those occasions, either.
``I'm sure it will be emotional again,'' he said. ``It cannot be after that many years and that many people being a factor.''
Fellow inductee Ron Francis took a different approach this week, and has found some struggles.
``It's not finalized. I guess that should tell you something,'' said Francis, fourth on the NHL points list. ``It's really tough when you try and sit back and look back on your career. There are so many people that have touched your life both on the ice and within your career in the NHL, whether it be owners, GMs, coaches, players, trainers, all the way down.
``And that doesn't even account for all of the people that you encountered outside of the game that you met along this trip, too. For the most part I think I'm OK with it. There are a couple of paragraphs I'm really wrestling with.''
Longtime defenseman Al MacInnis is just about finished writing what he will say.
``I'm still crossing a couple Ts, and dotting a few Is here,'' he said. ``It's one of those ones where you don't want to miss anybody that's been very important in your life and your hockey career.
``When you play 23 years, there's a lot of help along the way and a lot of different people, and you want to make sure you touch on the most important parts.''
FOURTH LINE TO FIRST PLACE: Mike Modano's long wait to be the greatest American scorer in the NHL ended in a flash.
Chasing Phil Housley's mark of 1,232 points took its toll on the Dallas Stars forward, who recently endured a demotion to the team's fourth line. Hardly the customary place for the man who already owned the record for most goals by a U.S.-born player.
Modano hadn't scored in three games when he netted two goals just over two minutes apart early in the first period of Dallas' 3-1 win at San Jose on Wednesday night.
That gave him four goals and three assists in 15 games this season, and the top spot in the U.S. record book.
``Things haven't gone the way I hoped they would for the start of the season,'' said the 37-year-old center from Livonia, Mich. ``Maybe this will get something to turn.''
He almost tied Housley last week, but an assist he was credited with - despite never having touched the puck - was rightfully taken away. The record fell with a pair of pretty goals.
Creating U.S. hockey fans is a much tougher task.
``It's a tough sport to sell,'' Modano said. ``Such competition with the major sports, it's insane. So anything that can help, if it does, it's great. If not, we just try to go out there and be entertaining and draw the fans. I know we've had remarkable growth in our sport in Texas, but it's meaningful in itself.''
Modano broke the American-goal record last March with his 503rd. That is four more than Sharks center Jeremy Roenick, another American who hoped to net No. 500 in the same game as Modano's milestone.
He couldn't pull it off.
``I was just really proud to be there when he did it,'' Roenick said. ``We've got to keep the excitement flowing throughout the States and keep up our hockey tradition, what we've built - myself and Modano, (Keith) Tkachuk and (Brian) Leetch, that whole crew that's been around for the last 20 years.
``We've built a very solid American base, and it's good to keep that excitement so that young kids can continue that high level, guys like (rookie Patrick) Kane in Chicago.''
SO LONG LINDROS: Age and injury finally got the best of Eric Lindros, who retired without ever truly finding an NHL home.
``The Next One'' spurned the Quebec Nordiques after they drafted him No. 1 in 1991 and forced a trade a year later to Philadelphia. It was there Lindros found his greatest success and endured his greatest travails.
A trip to the 1997 finals and an MVP award two seasons earlier made him a darling in Philadelphia. A very public feud with general manager Bob Clarke and an ugly divorce from the team turned him into a villain.
Nondescript stops in New York, back home in Toronto, and finally in Dallas wrapped up a 13-season career that could be culminated with induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Now he is becoming a powerful voice within the NHL Players' Association.
Concussions, other injuries, and his long dispute with Clarke and the Flyers limited No. 88 to 760 games. He averaged more than a point per game with 865 and finished with 372 goals.
Whether he will make it back to Toronto as a Hall of Famer will be the subject of debate. Lindros' numbers look a little light, but they are quite similar to former Boston Bruins power forward Cam Neely, inducted in 2005.
Neely, whose No. 8 was retired by the Bruins, put up 395 goals and 694 points in 726 games over 13 seasons.
SENATORS STARS: The defending Eastern Conference champion Ottawa Senators, who jumped out to a 12-1 start on the strength of a team-record, eight-game winning streak, could have lots of representation at the All-Star game.
The Senators put a league-high six players on the ballot for the Jan. 27 game in Atlanta. Voting will take place from Tuesday until Jan. 2, and will be conducted strictly online and by cell phone for the second straight season.
Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, the NHL's top-scoring line last season and in the playoffs, make up half of Ottawa's potential All-Star starters. They are joined on the ballot by goalie Ray Emery and defensemen Chris Phillips and Wade Redden.
AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in San Jose, Calif., contributed to this report.