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Mark Messier: Rangers no underdogs in chase for Stanley Cup

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Mark Messier views the Rangers as a team that should be considered a favorite, and is close to winning a Stanley Cup.John Lamparski/Getty Images

Mark Messier views the Rangers as a team that should be considered a favorite, and is close to winning a Stanley Cup.

Mark Messier knows a thing or two about exuding confidence, the kind of confidence that was on display Monday when Derick Brassard defied those picking against the current Rangers and said they’d make a run to the Stanley Cup as underdogs.

The former Rangers captain’s famous guarantee, of course, came ahead of Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals against the Devils, declaring the Rangers would win the game. Messier backed it up with a hat trick to propel the Rangers to victory, and the rest was history. They won Game 7 and went on to win the Cup.

But when Messier thinks about what Brassard said, he doesn’t quite see the Rangers as an underdog team. He sees a group that has been close to capturing the Cup within the last few years, which makes them one of the favorites to win it all this spring.

“They’ve been knocking at the door for a lot of years now and they won the Presidents’ Trophy last year,” Messier told the Daily News Wednesday night. “So I wouldn’t consider them that heavy underdogs.”

Messier spoke at Arena in Times Square where he was honored by Ice Hockey in Harlem for his work with the non-profit organization since the early 1990s, shortly after Messier arrived in New York in 1991. Ice Hockey in Harlem offers programs for youth between ages 4 and 18 who live in Harlem.

There are roughly 280 kids currently participating, and Messier hopes to grow that into the thousands with the development of the Kingsbridge National Ice Center at the old Kingsbridge Armory in the Bronx. The plan calls for nine ice rinks at the indoor facility, and Messier, the CEO of the KNIC, says the final design is being sorted out and they’ll “hopefully start construction soon.”

“Ice Hockey in Harlem is exactly why we’re building Kingsbridge, is to give kids opportunities that never had opportunities,” Messier said.

Adam Graves, Messier’s former Rangers teammate, announced that Rangers alumni were donating $ 10,000 to Ice Hockey in Harlem.

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