May 18, 2016

Mitch Messier

Mitch Messier was a cousin of NHL superstar Mark Messier, as well as the older brother of New York Rangers defensman Joby Messier.

Mitch was a high school and collegiate superstar who continued to score well in the minor leagues. He got into a total of 20 NHL games with the Minnesota North Stars in the 1990s.

The Regina native had an amazing final season of high school hockey with the famed Notre Dame Hounds. In 60 games he scored an unreal 108 goals and 181 points.

The North Stars drafted Messier 56th overall in the summer of 1983, but allowed him to develop at Michigan State University. Messier starred on a line with Mike Donnelly and Scott Parker, Messier helped the Spartans win the 1986 NCAA championship. Messier led the way with a goal and two assists in the championship game against Harvard. Along the way Messier had a 43 game point scoring streak and found time to earn a telecommunications degree.

Upon graduation Messier turned pro and became a top scorer for several years with Minnesota's farm team in Kalamazoo. But chances to earn a NHL job were few and far between. He would play in a total of 20 games spread over four seasons.

Messier's pro hockey career came to an abrupt end when he suffered severe head and neck injuries in an off-season automobile accident near Canmore, Alberta in the summer of 1996. Messier and his brother Joby were conducting a hockey school in nearby Banff. Early in the morning their truck horrifically flipped, killing St. Louis Blues prospect Jeff Batters and a female passenger instantly. Both Messier brothers suffered serious injuries. Joby briefly returned to pro hockey but not the NHL.

Mitch never played hockey again. He broke 70 bones all over his body, including four in his neck and seven in his back. Both of his lungs were punctured and his aorta was torn.

Yet somehow he survived.

He even tried returning to the ice and began off-ice training despite bad neck pains. It was later determined his neck was still broken. Here he was training unaware that one wrong turn could have left him as a quadriplegic.

Messier had to give up the hockey dream, though he continued to teach at the hockey school in Banff. He got his real estate license and sold homes and property in Canmore.

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