Oilers busy preparing Messier festivities

The Edmonton Oilers will spend two days honouring former captain Mark Messier next month.

The Edmonton Oilers will spend two days honouring former captain Mark Messier next month.

Messier, who retired from the NHL in 2005, will have his No. 11 raised to the rafters when Edmonton hosts the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place on Feb. 27.

Al Hamilton (3), Paul Coffey (7), Jari Kurri (17), Grant Fuhr (31) and Wayne Gretzky (99), now head coach of the Coyotes, are the other Oilers so honoured.

"I was born and raised in Edmonton and spent the first twelve years of my NHL career playing for the Oilers," Messier said in a statement.

"Having my number raised to the rafters of Rexall Place, where we accomplished so much as a team and I made so many lifelong friends, is truly an honour."

Messier is the NHL's second leading scorer behind the incomparable Gretzky, who will take part in the pre-game tribute to his longtime friend and teammate with the Oilers and New York Rangers.

The present-day Oilers plan to wear vintage uniforms, similar to what Messier wore when he won five of his six career Stanley Cups.

Although the game is sold out, tickets are being listed on eBay for $800 apiece.

"We have found places [seats] for all the Messier clan," quipped Oilers president Patrick LaForge.

Rally and fundraiser

Fans will be able to attend a rally the day before at Winston Churchill Square in downtown Edmonton and a charity fundraiser at the Winspear Centre, hosted by Kelly Hrudey of Hockey Night in Canada.

Messier, who turns 46 on Thursday, will be joined by several Oilers alumni, including Coffey, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe.

Tickets can be purchased for $350 on Feb. 1.

"It's higher priced, but it's a donation idea," LaForge said.

Messier, considered one of the finest leaders in professional sports, is the only player in NHL history to captain two teams to Stanley Cups, accomplishing the feat with Edmonton in 1990 and New York in 1994.

The Rangers retired his sweater number on Jan. 12, 2006.

The 16-time all-star also captained the Vancouver Canucks during his 25-year NHL career, totalling 694 goals and 1,887 points in 1,856 games.

The CBC is planning a contest with the winner receiving two tickets to the Coyotes-Oilers game and a Messier replica sweater.

Details will be announced soon.

With files from the Canadian Press