TORONTO – The Moose is taking his next management role with the national team.
Mark Messier will be named Canada’s general manager for the 2010 IIHF World Hockey Championship at a press conference on Wednesday morning, a source told The Canadian Press. Messier currently works in the New York Rangers front office as a special assistant to president Glen Sather.
Hockey Canada’s decision to hire him for the world championship team follows its pattern of employing former NHL stars. Wayne Gretzky, Steve Yzerman, Joe Nieuwendyk and Luc Robitaille have all been involved with Canada’s entry in the tournament in recent years.
Messier was actually in attendance for the gold-medal game of this year’s event in Bern, Switzerland, where Canada was beaten 2-1 by Russia. It was the second straight year the Canadian team had to settle for silver after losing to the Russians in the final.
Canada opens the 2010 world championship on May 8 with a game against Italy in Mannheim, Germany. The medal round will be played in Cologne.
The task facing Messier in assembling the team will likely be made tougher because the tournament comes less than three months after the Vancouver Olympics. The 2006 world championship team didn’t feature one player that competed in the Turin Games, although it did include veteran Brendan Shanahan and an 18-year-old Sidney Crosby, who led the event in scoring.
During Messier’s induction to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame last month, he reiterated his long-stated goal of one day becoming a GM in the NHL. He also acknowledged there is still plenty to learn.
“The minute you think you need to stop learning, or don’t want to learn, you’ve got problems,” said Messier. “I’m learning every day, so that’s what makes it fun to come to the rink.”
This opportunity should be another learning experience for the 48-year-old.
Messier is a six-time Stanley Cup winner who retired as the NHL’s second-leading scorer in 2004. Three years later, he was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame – the same venue where Wednesday morning’s press conference will be held.
Last month, Messier said the experiences he had during his playing career were helpful in the front office.
“I believe I can take the things I learned as a player and apply them into this arena, as well,” said Messier. “The understanding I’ve gotten through 26 years of professional hockey will definitely help me.”