Messier quickly blossomed into the game's premier power centre iceman and scored 50 goals once for the quick-skating high-powered offence of the Oilers. Teamed on a line with Glenn Anderson, Messier gave the Oilers the best one-two combination at centre in the league with Wayne GRETZKY. The Oilers won their first STANLEY CUP in 1984, and Messier, the acknowledged emotional and physical leader of the team, proved his value and was awarded the Conn SMYTHE trophy as playoff MVP. Three more Cups followed in the next four years before Gretzky was traded to LA. Messier became the Oilers' captain and led the team to another championship in 1990, leading all players in playoff scoring and winning the HART trophy as the NHL's most valuable player.
A contract dispute led to his trade to the New York Rangers following the 1990-91 season. The Rangers desperately wanted Messier for his leadership skills both on the ice and in the locker room and named him captain of the team upon his arrival. His physical presence inspired improved play from his teammates, and the Rangers immediately became Stanley Cup contenders. The team finished the regular season in first place over-all but were upset early in the playoffs. Messier's play earned another Hart Trophy that year.
After a disappointing 1992-93 season the Rangers again finished first over-all in 1993-94. Messier played much of the season injured but rebounded to have another outstanding playoff, guaranteeing a victory over the New Jersey Devils in a crucial game and scoring the Cup-winning goal in the seventh game of a thrilling final against Vancouver; the Rangers' 50-year Stanley Cup drought had ended. In 1997 Messier left New York and signed as a free agent with the VANCOUVER CANUCKS, and in the following season resumed his revered role as team captain. Unable to score at his previous point-per-game rate, Messier, as captain, was assigned much of the blame for the team's decline. His contract expired in 2000 and he returned to the New York Rangers, where he remained for another four years, resuming his role as team captain and continuing to play a significant number of minutes-per-game, all the while plagued by injury. The 2003-04 season was to be Messier's last. He retired in 2005 following the NHL lockout that cancelled the 2004-05 season.
Throughout his career he scored 1887 career points (behind only to Gordie HOWE and Wayne Gretzky), 694 career goals, and 1193 assists (the third all-time highest). He is one of three players to reach 100 career playoff goals, trailing only Wayne Gretzky in career playoff points and assists. He has won six Stanley Cups, one Conn Smythe Trophy, and two Hart trophies; was an integral member of three CANADA CUP winning teams (1984, 1987 and 1991), one World Championship team (1989) and one World Cup team (1996); and has played the second-highest number of NHL career games, 1756 (nine games less than Howe). Messier is also the only player to have captained two different Stanley Cup-winning teams (the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers). His jersey number (11) was retired by the New York Rangers in 2006 and by the Edmonton Oilers in 2007, and in 2007 he was inducted into the HOCKEY HALL OF FAME. Fierce pride and determination and a refusal to accept losing have made Messier one of hockey's all-time great players.
Since retirement, Messier has become a successful entrepreneur in the hotel industry.