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Messier the finest leader the game has ever known

Updated: September 15, 2005, 12:29 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | Special to ESPN.com

It's the rare athlete who becomes eclipsed by his own legend, the player whose accomplishments are so great they almost cease to exist as a real flesh-and-blood person.

Joe Namath, Babe Ruth, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods perhaps.

Mark Messier, too.

And yet for all of the imposing greatness that has enveloped Messier for much of his career, it was surprising to hear him describe with great affection a period that many would assume he'd prefer to forget -- a three-year ...

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