- Last Updated: 9:23 AM, June 5, 2012
- Posted: 1:45 AM, June 5, 2012
LOS ANGELES — Mark Messier, special assistant to president/general manager Glen Sather, expressed pride in the Blueshirts’ season and the belief that the team’s run to the conference finals would form a springboard to greater success, but No. 11 also said he believes it is necessary for the team to incorporate more depth into the lineup in order to win the Cup.
“I think going forward that you can’t quantify how important it was for these players to have played the kind of playoff hockey they did for as long as they did and feel what it’s like to play this deep,” Messier said before the Devils’ 4-0 loss to the Kings in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. “The fatigue, the upsets, the times you have to climb back, they’re hard lessons to learn unless you actually experience them, and that should put our team in position to take a major leap forward.
“But moving forward, as you can see, teams that win the Stanley Cup get stronger as series move on, so for us this year the big thing is to add depth so we don’t have to use as many players as much as we did.
“The more depth you have, the less chance of wearing players down and having injuries.”
Messier was at the Final to announce Blueshirts’ captain Ryan Callahan, Kings’ captain Dustin Brown and Coyotes’ captain Shane Doan as finalists for the Bridgestone Mark Messier Leadership Award, the winner of which will be revealed at the NHL Awards ceremonies in Las Vegas on June 20.
The captain also praised Marian Gaborik when asked specifically about the winger, who will undergo surgery to repair a torn right labrum that limited him to five goals in the playoffs, one against New Jersey.
“I don’t think one player should have left our [facility] disappointed with the year he had,” Messier said. “There’s a tremendous amount of pressure to score in the playoffs, and especially on your offensive guys. I’ve been there myself, and was successful some times and unsuccessful other times. They don’t make it easier for the star players to score, and that’s why you need depth,” he said. “Marian Gaborik is 10-times the hockey player he was when he came to the New York Rangers three years ago.”
“He continues to improve and he wants to improve. I’m proud of the way he played. I can say that I know the coaching staff is unbelievably proud of the way the team played from start to finish.”
Messier, who remained incommunicado during the Devils’ six-game victory over the Rangers in the recently concluded Eastern Conference finals, acknowledged that a lot of 1994 Rangers were “texting back and forth” during the series that evoked memories of the epochal Battle of the Hudson 18 years ago.
“I tried to stay out of the way because I really felt the players from both teams had earned the right to be in the position they were in and shouldn’t be overshadowed,” said The Captain. “Like I said, my ship had sailed a long time ago.”
“But being in New York, with all the story lines that developed during this series, from a journalistic standpoint, it was a great time for hockey and a great place to be.”Follow @NYPostsports