SAGINAW, MI – The Saginaw Spirit proudly announced Monday the hiring of Jesse Messier as Assistant Coach.
“We wanted was a young coach with an ‘outside the box’ perspective,” said head coach Chris Lazary. (Mess) is an ex-player of mine that displayed leadership abilities throughout his playing career at York University. He provides a different way of looking at the game. I remember telling him when he was playing, I thought he would make and excellent coach and I would hire him one day. Today, I am proud to welcome Jesse Messier to the Spirit organization.”
The 31-year-old native of Keswick, Ontario was previously an Assistant Coach at his alma mater, York University for the past four seasons.
“I am honored to begin my OHL coaching career with the Saginaw Spirit,” said Messier. “I would like to thank ownership, Dave Drinkill, Brian Prout, and Chris Lazary for this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank Russ Herrington and the staff at York University for their support through this process. I am very excited to get to work in Saginaw and become a part of this great community.”
Messier, a former second round pick of the Sudbury Wolves, played parts of four seasons in the OHL with the Wolves and the Toronto / Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors. In his rookie year, Messier suffered a neck injury that would sideline him for 18 months, putting the beginning of his junior career on hold. Still, Messier appeared in 182 OHL games from 2005-2009.
The former right-winger put his OHL Education Package to work in 2009, committing to York University in Toronto. Messier went on to play five seasons at York and graduate with a degree in Kinesiology & Health Science. He finished his USports career 10th all-time in program scoring with 129 points in 133 games and led the Lions in scoring in each of his final three seasons.
During the 2012-13 season, Messier played under then York Lions assistant coach, Chris Lazary. Messier respects the hard work that Lazary has put in to become a head coach in the OHL and hopes to one day follow in his footsteps.
“I think (Chris) is a tremendous mentor for me, and I think our paths are very similar. We both have had to work really hard to get in the positions we are in. My goal is to be a head coach one day and I think being in Saginaw with Chris and the Spirit is a great starting point.”
Messier took another step in his hockey career following his graduation from York. He was signed by the ECHL’s Toledo Walleye in 2014. Messier finished the year with the Walleye, but signed the following season with the Allen Americans. Yet another serious injury for Messier, this time a broken leg, forced him to make a very tough decision about his future. Messier elected to return to York to begin his coaching career in 2015 as an Assistant Coach.
Not only was Lazary a tremendous influence on Messier in his playing days, he also credits former NHL veteran Mike Foligno, who he played for in Sudbury and former Ottawa Senators bench boss Dave Cameron, who was coaching the St. Michaels Majors during his time in the OHL as being major influences on not just his playing style, but his coaching style as well.
Messier, head coach Chris Lazary, and associate coach Jared Nightingale round out the Saginaw Spirit coaching staff for the 2019-20 regular season, the 18th season in team history.
Messier’s hiring is dependent on the approval of immigration paperwork.