May 18, 2016

Joby Messier

Joby Messier was a cousin of hockey legend Mark Messier. The two played together briefly with the New York Rangers in the mid-1990s.

"It would be a thrill to play on the same ice with Mark Messier," said Joby upon his arrival in New York. "We don't really know each other all that well. I probably know a lot more about him than he knows about me."

Joby Messier was a defensive defenseman who played a total of 25 NHL games, all with the Rangers. The Regina, Saskatchewan native played four seasons at Michigan State where he was an all star defenseman while studying Human Resources.

At the NHL level he was an average skater at best but was on track to become a reliable depth defenseman. He was always improving his ability to play within his limitations, playing strong positional hockey and blocking shots. And, in typical Messier fashion, he made sure to play the game very physically.

"If he makes it in the NHL, it will be with his aggressiveness and strength," said Rangers scout Dave McNab.

However it was not be. An automobile accident in 1995-96 all but ended his career. He was working in Banff as an instructor at a hockey school when a truck with Messier, his brother Mitch, Jeff Batters, Dan Patenaude and two females crashed horrifically near nearby Canmore. Batters and one of the females died on impact.

It was never fully determined who was driving the truck. None of the survivors can remember due to their head injuries. Police kept waffling between the two Messier brothers as the drivers. At one point they identified Joby as the driver long enough to have two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm laid. But a judge quickly threw out the case as he was not convinced Joby was the actual driver.

Joby Messier was unable to play the entire next season. He did return to play parts of the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons in the minor leagues, but was never quite the same player again.

Messier retired in 1998. He would continue to operate the hockey school in Banff and explored other opportunities in youth hockey in Alberta. He later became a sub-contractor for a drilling outfit and shoed horses on the side.

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