"It seemed like everything happened together," Mary-Kay says. "We all left Edmonton at the same time. Our parents were planning on moving anyway, so this was a good time to do it. I was about to leave a job with IBM. Paul was back from Germany, where he'd retired as a player. Everyone is still close, but in a different place. I think for Christmas we had 18 people in the condo. Sleeping bags everywhere. The idea was that Mark had to be here, so we'd all be here too."
He is an instant New York guy. That is the story. A new contract, signed two months into the season, gives Messier $13 million for the next five years and makes him the third-highest-paid player in the game after Gretzky and Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux. The tabloids have reported his telephone conversations with Madonna, though he refuses to say whether or not he and she have gone on a date. He is a recognized New York face, a New York photo opportunity. He can walk to Madison Square Garden from the condo for games. He can drive, the other way against the commuter traffic, to the Rye practices. He can take a new team, make it his own. He can lead.
"I like our eagerness, I like our enthusiasm," the new man from the mist says. "I like our speed, the way we can play a pressure game. I like our goaltending. I like our team."
Big? Maybe so. Maybe this is the year.