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Mark Messier Leaving New York Rangers

B Bennett/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former New York Rangers great is leaving the organization.  Mark Messier announced on Thursday that he is stepping away from the team to which he brought home a Stanley Cup in 1994, ending a 54-year drought.

Messier was one of the finalists for the Rangers' head coaching job, but the team decided to go with Alain Vigneault.

"I am resigning my position with the team to pursue an opportunity to expand the game of hockey in the New York area by developing the Kingsbridge National Ice Center," Messier said.

"Although some will perceive this as a reaction to the coaching decision, nothing could be further from the truth. I completely respect the decision that was made and for all the reasons it was made. I harbor no hard feelings toward Glen [Sather] or the Rangers. This is a personal choice I am making to create a program in the New York area that will give our children more choices and opportunities in the future. I wish the Rangers nothing but the best in the future," he continued.

The Rangers president and general manager respected Messier's decision and wished him nothing but the best.

"We parted on great terms," said Sather. "Mark's a great friend of mine and [I've] virtually spent most of my life and his life together."

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