An interminable arbitration proceeding between Mark Messier and the Vancouver Canucks has been decided in Messier’s favor with the Hall of Famer being awarded $6 million. The dispute dates back to Messier’s uninspiring tenure with the Canucks from 1997-2000.
Messier only played for three of the five years of his contract and was bought out for $2 million. The contract originally paid $30 million at $6 million per year. However, his contract reportedly contained a clause that guaranteed Messier additional pay if the team's value increased during the tenure of his full contract. The reported clause was the basis of the dispute with his former team.
Well-known sports arbitrator George Nicolau presided over the case. The recent decision was taken after meetings earlier in 2012 with both sides of the dispute.
In 2011 Forbes magazine listed the value of the Canucks operation at $300 million. The team had a value of $100 million in 1999 according to Forbes. Former team owner John McCaw sold half interest in the franchise to Aquilini Investment Group in late 2004 for $150 million. Aquilini bought the other half in 2006 for another reported $150 million. The deal included the team itself and their arena.
Following his tenure in Vancouver Messier returned to the New York Rangers and played for another four seasons. He currently works for the Rangers as an assistant to the team president.
From the beginning Messier got off on the wrong foot with the Canucks and their fans. He replaced popular team captain Trevor Linden who was then traded away to the New York Islanders. Messier also pressured the team to issue him number 11 which he had used with both the Rangers and Oilers. However, that number had been unofficially retired in honor of deceased player Wayne Maki.
In three seasons Messier only scored 158 points for the team. They failed to reach the playoffs during those years. Messier missed parts of his last two seasons with the Canucks due to injury. He was not invited to join the 1998 Canadian Olympic team even though professional players were eligible starting in 1998.
Without the support of the fans and management a player will not be successful regardless of the caliber of hockey equipment and gear he uses. The arbitration settlement will hopefully close the book on the acrimonious relationship between the Vancouver Canucks and hockey great Mark Messier.
Written by: Becky Wilcox