Mark of distinctionhttp://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2005/writers/michael_farber/09/12/messier.retires/index.htmlCentre Ron Francis retires after 23 distinguished NHL seasonshttp://www.canada.com/edmonton/edmontonjournal/news/sports/story.html?id=cda782b9-2192-4783-8365-7acc1bc6b656Another NHL star quits; Francis retireshttp://msnbc.msn.com/id/9340488/ESPN.com: NHL Statisticshttp://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/statisticsHockey Hall of Famehttp://www.hhof.com/index.htmAfter a long strike, the National Hockey League is gearing up for the 2005-2006 season in earnest. Regrettably, the game will be without two of its standout players, as both Mark Messier of the New York Rangers and Ron Francis of the Toronto Maple Leafs announced their retirements this week. Messier began his 25-season career with his hometown Edmonton Oilers in 1979, and led the team to five Stanley Cup victories. Of course, many will also remember his many fine years of play with the Rangers, where he also led them to victory in the 1994 Stanley Cap as well. Messier made his announcement on a conference call because as he remarked, "no one wants to see a blubbering idiot at the podium".


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