Thursday, September 27, 2007

Meeting Mark Messier

He stuck out like a sore thumb as I approached the Rockets bus, preparing to load my gear onto the iron lung for the trip down to Everett.
Even with his sun glasses on and the Okanagan sunshine hitting his tanned face, there was no mistaking it, it was Mark Messier.

Messier kept out of the media spotlight Wednesday night while in Kelowna, as he watched his son Lyon and the Rockets fall 2-1 to Vancouver. Realizing after the game that he was in attendance, I thought my chance of having the NHL great on our airwaves was lost.

Not so!

Messier - the ‘cool cat’ that he appears to be in person - is very much the way he is when you talk to him. Extremely laid back, he wasn’t as intimidating to talk too as I had envisioned. Sure I’ve spoken to NHL players in the past, but usually in a setting where time is made available to the media to ask questions. This setting was much different, with next to nobody around except for the bus driver at the back of the arena. I learned that Messier will be watching Lyon and the Rockets twice this weekend, when the team makes stops in Everett and Vancouver. I made an arrangement to interview him in the hotel lobby in Everett Friday morning, and that interview can be heard on AM 1150 Friday night at 7:05.

So I thought my quick conversation with the NHL great outside of the Rockets bus was over, as we headed off to the Wood Fire Bakery for lunch before hitting the road. But when we arrived at the restaurant, who was waiting in line at one of Kelowna’s best sandwich and soup places? You guessed it, Mark Messier. Many of the patrons having their lunch Thursday afternoon found themselves biting into their sandwich, while swinging their head around and saying to themselves – “that’s…that’s Mark Messier”.

Let’s be honest, Messier is a big deal, and the fact that he’s hanging around his son’s junior team is a pretty cool experience for the players, the coaches and the radio guy.

I have often been asked by non hockey people, how I can stand riding the bus all of these years following junior hockey with a bunch of 16 to 20 year-old players. Sometimes I question it myself. But when I get opportunities liking sitting down one-on-one with a hall of famer like Mark Messier, I say to myself using my Saskatchewan slang – this gig ain’t half bad!


Jon Keen said...

good post buddy. I would love that interview passed my way. When you get a chance e-mail it to me.


Regan Bartel said...

Messier has been really good with the Rockets players. In the lobby tonight he was chatting it up with about 6 of them. He even waved at me as I was heading down to dinner once we arrived at the hotel. He is not your ordinary hockey dad, but he sure isn't playing it off like he is something special. Winning as many cups as he did and playing over 17 hundred games in the NHL makes him pretty special in my books.