Ceremony to take place prior to Coyotes game

Updated: December 6, 2006, 8:30 PM ET
Associated Press

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Mark Messier's famous No. 11 is going to the rafters -- again.

This time "The Captain" will be honored by the Edmonton Oilers, his first NHL team that he helped lead to five Stanley Cup titles in seven years.

"I'm not promising anybody I'm not going to cry. That would be a big mistake," he said Wednesday.

One year after the New York Rangers honored Messier by retiring his number, the Oilers will do the same on Feb. 27 when former teammate Wayne Gretzky and his Phoenix Coyotes come to town.

In an NHL career that spanned a quarter-century, Messier won six Stanley Cup titles -- five with Edmonton and one with the Rangers. He retired in September 2005 as the second-leading scorer in NHL history, trailing only Gretzky, with 1,887 points (694 goals and 1,193 assists).

"I don't know if Wayne Gretzky is as good without Mark Messier and conversely I don't know if Mark Messier is as good without Wayne Gretzky," said former teammate Kevin Lowe, now the Oilers general manager.

His No. 11 will join the sweaters of Gretzky, Paul Coffey, Grant Fuhr, Jari Kurri and Al Hamilton high up in Rexall Place. The game is already sold out and the Oilers will wear vintage blue jerseys that night from the Messier-Gretzky heyday of the 1980s.

Messier was pleased that the ceremony will be held with Gretzky in the building. He said Gretzky, now the Coyotes coach, was the leader of the young Oilers when the club was first learning how to win.

"Wayne was so far advanced to us in so many areas," he said. "I figured out pretty quickly that if I watched and figured out what he was doing and tried to emulate it, I could become a better hockey player."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press