For four years, Jordan Messier called the Tri-Cities home.
Tuesday, Messier was the odd man out when Tri-City Americans general manager Bob Tory had to trim his roster to the Western Hockey League maximum of three 20-year-old players.
Messier was dealt to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a fourth-round bantam draft pick in 2014.
“It’s a tough day,” Messier said. “I’ve been coming down here since I was 14 years old. This has been more of my home than Canmore (Alberta) the last four years. It would have been a tough day no matter what.”
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Messier’s departure leaves the Americans with overage defenseman Drydn Dow and forwards Justin Feser and Jesse Mychan.“It’s a stressful time,” Tory said from Calgary, where the league general managers are meeting. “It’s hard to give a player away for no other reason than his age. With the deadline coming, you want to get assets for these guys. Jordan has been here a long time, and I thank him for his time. It was hard to move him.
“Drydn didn’t figure into the process until Jesse got hurt,” Tory said. “He stabilized our back end, played forward and defense, and proved he deserved to play here. That threw a monkey wrench into the whole process. Drydn is an underrated player.”
Moving Messier was just one transaction Tory made Tuesday. The others included trading defenseman Sam Grist, 19, to the Kamloops Blazers and acquiring forward Ryan Chynoweth, 17, from the Everett Silvertips.
“When we decided to keep Drydn, that was too many defensemen,” Tory said. “We had one 20, three 19s and three 18s. That’s too old. Something had to give. There were a lot of teams interested in Sam. This puts him closer to home, and we got a good value for him. I’ve had good dealing with Craig Bonner in Kamloops, and I made the decision on what was best for the team and for Sam.”
Grist, a 6-4, 200-pound native of North Saanich, British Columbia, played 119 games for Tri-City, scoring three goals with 12 assists and 207 penalty minutes.
The Americans got a third-round bantam pick in 2013 and a fifth-round pick in 2014 for Grist. That fifth-round pick is what Tory gave Everett for Chynoweth.
“I like Ryan, and I know his family,” Tory said. “He’s a hard-working player that will give us depth, and he can kill penalties. To get a player like Ryan for a reasonable price was a good move.”
Messier, who was set to leave early today for Moose Jaw, said he knew this day was coming, but it still didn’t make it any easier to accept.
“The thought is definitely in the back of your head from the time you get here,” Messier said. “(Monday) night was a tough sleep. I have nothing but good things to say about Tri-City — the players, the team and the fans. The people in the Tri-Cities love their hockey. I’ve seen it grow since I was 16. It’s tough to top the Tri-City fans — they are the best in the league.”
The Americans drafted Messier in the second round of the 2007 bantam draft, and he spent his entire career with the Americans. The 6-2, 190-pound forward had 77 goals, 86 assists, 224 penalty minutes and a plus-11 rating. His 270 games rank him 11th on the team’s all-time games played list.
In the playoffs, Messier ranks fourth in games played (58) and in goals scored (14), and ninth in points (28).
The Americans, who hit the road today for a six-game trip through the East Division, will face Messier and the Warriors on Sunday in Moose Jaw.“I had a bite to eat with Eric (Comrie) and joked to let me slip one past him,” Messier said of the Americans’ starting goalie. “It will be good to see the boys so soon. I will definitely come out hard for that one.”
As for Comrie?
“I’m not expecting him to hold up that end of the deal,” Messier said. “He’s pretty stingy with everyone. I’m no different.”Messier took the time Tuesday to say his goodbyes and pack up his gear and four years’ worth of memories. The hardest part of the deal is leaving younger brother Marcus behind.
“Marcus was pretty upset,” Messier said. “It was pretty cool to play with my brother in the WHL. Not a lot of guys can say that.”
In two-plus seasons together with the Americans, Messier said his biggest regret was never getting a chance to make the scoresheet with Marcus combining for a goal.
“We ran out of time,” Messier said. “It was coming.”
Chynoweth, a 6-1, 175-pound native of Cranbrook, British Columbia, said he requested a trade from Everett.
“I didn’t feel I was getting the opportunity to show what I could bring to the table,” Chynoweth said. “Hopefully I will be able to bring that here. I have nothing but good things to say about Everett, but it wasn’t working out.”
While Chynoweth doesn’t know many of his new teammates personally, he’s quite familiar with them after facing them last year during the regular season and in the first round of the playoffs.
“I know the faces, and I know Jesse Mychan from when he was in Everett,” Chynoweth said. “I’m looking forward to meeting the guys and getting it started. This is a great organization, the way they run things on and off the ice. This is really exciting.”