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Lyon Messier is set to pursue NHL career
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Sunday, January 28, 2007

EDMONTON - Mark Messier's eyes light up as he talks about the progress his 19-year-old son Lyon is making, playing on the blue-line for the junior Texas Tornado in the North American Hockey League. Some U.S. colleges are starting to look at his progeny.

"Lyon had his first knockout and his first fight the other night ... the old man was proud of him," laughed the ex-Oilers star whose No. 11 will be raised to the Rexall Place rafters on Feb. 27.

"He caught a guy coming out of his zone with his head down and hit him on the chin with his shoulder and knocked him out. He said, 'Dad, it was just like (R.J.) Umberger in the playoffs last year (Sabres defenceman Bryan Campbell nailing the Flyers forward)' " said Messier.

"Lyon said he saw a guy out of the corner of his eye coming at him after the hit, and it was like a yard sale, gloves flying. He said, 'Dad, he didn't tie my right arm up, so I hit him with a few.' I told Lyon, 'That's good ... now you're going to be on the power play.' "

Lyon, who used to smack people on the shins with a toy hockey stick in the late '80s, is making strides as a player. Good genes help, although Mark was playing in the NHL at 19. But Mark sees some good things in his son.

"He's a great skater and really offensive-minded, and he's learning his position. He went to the Rangers rookie camp last year and I thought he did well. He's got a good coach who's really helped him, and he's got some colleges looking at him. He would like to be a pro hockey player. Hey, it's a great life as long as you put the work in," said Messier.

Messier, who turned 46 on Jan. 18, is prepared to do the same, jumping into the management game, probably with the Rangers. He's seen contemporaries like Al MacInnis (St. Louis), Steve Yzerman (Detroit) and Ron Francis (Carolina) getting their feet wet already. He's seen the potential Hall of Famers dive into the scouting and learning-the-ropes parts of the job. He might want that challenge, too. He has some role models in buddy Kevin Lowe in Edmonton, Glen Sather in New York and John Muckler in Ottawa. He has talked to Sather about getting involved in management, now that he's been away from the game for a couple of years.

"It's a lot of work, but it's very interesting, trying to pull a team together. I like that aspect. It's almost like playing chess and I love that game, all the references to war," said Messier. "I'd love to assemble a team on the ice."


Finally using his head

Referee Kerry Fraser hasn't quite adjusted to wearing a helmet.

"I was doing an Islander game and Tom Poti slapped the puck around the glass, hit one of the stanchions, and nailed me right in the ear hole. I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been, not like I would if I hadn't had my helmet on. I just took it for granted that I was protected," said Fraser.

He's very glad he's got a visor, however. "A little while back, Wade Redden accidentally caught me with his stick and, believe me, it would have gone right into my eye and I think I'd have been history, if it didn't hit the visor instead. There was a big mark there on the glass," said Fraser.

Fight for Forsberg

The Peter Forsberg trade soap opera is fun stuff. "Makes for good gossip," said Colorado forward Ian Laperriere when a Denver TV station said Forsberg had talked to the Avalanche about a return. He bristled at that one, categorically denying it. But here's what teams are likely offering: A first-round draft pick. The Flames are certainly sniffing around, knowing Forsberg has played with Alex Tanguay before in Denver. They could leave Matthew Lombardi in the middle, and play Forsberg on the wing, with Tanguay. Count the Phoenix Coyotes out, however.

"Unless you can get Peter for a sixth-round pick we're out of the running, but teams out there will give up a first-rounder. Not us, though," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky. Forsberg, even at 60 per cent with his bad right foot, is better than many guys at 100, which is why teams are lining up to get him.

Jerseys bring new life

Oilers winger Ryan Smyth loved the new-look Reebok jerseys he wore at the all-star game, with one minor irritant. "They don't soak up the water like the old sweaters ... the water just beads on the jersey, but the water had to go somewhere and it was trickling into my gloves," said Smyth. Colorado captain Joe Sakic gave the lighter sweaters the thumbs up, too. "It's going to help an old man. I feel faster," he said.

Price on his head

Agent Tom Laidlaw was talking this week to the Boston Globe's Kevin Dupont about once belting Wayne Gretzky when Laidlaw played defence for the Rangers, and how he managed to get out of here with his head still on his shoulders.

"When I did it, the building went deadly silent and Glen Sather pointed right at me and yelled, for everybody to hear, 'Laidlaw, you're leaving the building in a body bag,' '' guffawed Laidlaw, now Bryan Berard's agent. "I saw Dave Semenko putting one leg over the boards, looking like a wild man. He skated over to me and said, 'You going to do that to Gretzky again?' I said, 'David I don't think so. I think I'm all set.' ''

This 'n' that

Maybe it was a just an oversight, or Ken Hitchcock had other things to do during the all-star break in Dallas, but I didn't see Hitch hanging around with the 1999 Stanley Cup-champion Stars team that was invited to the all-star shindig ... You see Yanic Perreault matching offence with everybody else in the all-star game, and you wonder what all those NHL teams were thinking when they left him hanging out to dry as a free-agent until he signed in November with Phoenix.


Beantown breakdown

The Boston Bruins could well be pitching a package of defenceman Brad Stuart and forward Marco Sturm to teams, including the Oilers, because both become free-agents on July 1 and aren't coming back to Beantown. One pro scout says the Bruins are asking for the moon for Stuart. The only way Kevin Lowe would consider grabbing one or the other, and giving up a live body or two from his current roster, is if they have a deal in writing that they can sign one or both before July. Stuart's game still has ebbs and flows but he can be in the top defensive pairing many nights; however, he's probably looking for four years at $4 million a season because he's only 27 and very attractive to teams on the open market. Sturm, a quick second-line winger, is married to a California woman and may want to relocate there as a free-agent. The Bruins have made no secret they're looking for aggressive/energy type forwards (like Raffi Torres) but if they're trading Stuart, you can bet they're looking for a defenceman who can play in their top four from any team they talk to. The most recent names being floated in Boston -- Oilers captain Jason Smith and Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Don't rattle Sabres

Daniel Briere, with five points, was named MVP of the all-star game but co-captain Chris Drury may be the one the Sabres work harder to keep. Both will be looking for $5 million in July as free-agents. "Drury scores big goals. He reminds me of Glenn Anderson. He does a lot of things really well, things people don't notice, like Glennie did for us (Oilers)," said Mark Messier. GM Darcy Regier is waiting on his long-term injury forward Tim Connolly to see if he plays again. If not, they'll have money for both free-agents. If Connolly returns, there'll be less in the pot.

50 big years for Bucyk

The Bruins are honouring travelling secretary Johnny Bucyk with a night to celebrate 50 years with the organization on Feb. 23 when the Oilers, fittingly, are in town. Bucyk, who scored 556 goals, grew up and played his minor hockey here. Having a Bucyk night recalls a story Tommy McVie told one night. "There was a kid on the Bruins complaining to John about not getting some tickets for him," said McVie. "I said, 'Young man, you do know that ticket guy scored 500 goals and is in the Hall of Fame, don't you?' "

Catch a falling star

Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller felt terrible when he failed to make a save and stop vocalist Giorgia Fumanti from falling after she sang the Canadian national anthem at the all-star game. Miller was right beside her when she stumbled. "I had my blocker and mitt on and I just couldn't think how to grab her," said Miller. "Brendan Shanahan teased me right after, saying, 'Least you could have done was help her up,' but there were some people already doing that."

This 'n' that:

Todd Bertuzzi skated Friday with his Florida teammates in a practice for the first time since Oct. 18 but he's still a couple of weeks from returning after back surgery ... Flyers tough guy Todd Fedoruk punched teammate Joni Pitkanen after taking an elbow from the Finn in his reconstructed (titanium plates) face. Fedoruk apologized, saying he lost his cool.


- Many people thought Panthers' TV colourman Denis Potvin might get the nod as Jacques Martin's assistant GM but Martin went for former Ottawa GM Randy Sexton. On his watch, Sexton picked Alexandre Daigle No. 1 overall in '93, passing on a big kid named Pronger. Martin helped recruit Sexton to play at his alma mater St. Lawrence U.

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