Retired Jersey Numbers: A Silly Practice, Overdone by NHL Clubs


Every team has some retired jersey numbers. It is a great way to pay respect to your greatest players. A banner with the respective player’s name and number is hoisted side by side with Stanley Cup Championship banners, for everyone to see, and nobody will ever wear that player’s number again. Seriously, though, isn’t it a tad exaggerated and totally overdone?

The Colorado Avalanche, for example, currently has the following five numbers retired:

19 — Joe Sakic (with the Avalanche 1995-2009)
21 — Peter Forsberg (with the Avalanche 1995-2004, 2008, 2011)
33 — Patrick Roy (with the Avalanche 1995-2003)
52 — Adam Foote (with the Avalanche 1995-2004, 2008-2011)
77 — Ray Bourque (with the Avalanche 2000-2001)

As said before, they are some of the best players that have ever played for the club (even though Bourque is rather one of the Boston Bruins’ greatest players ever, who have also retired his number). It is currently rumored that Milan Hejduk’s number may also be retired. And what about Rob Blake (the LA Kings did retire his number), who is also one of the Avalanche’s greatest players ever, and a Hockey Hall of Fame inductee as well?

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You see, there could be a case made for a lot of players. At some point you will have to ask yourself, is this really necessary, and where is it supposed to lead us? To a time when players have to start wearing #100 and up, because all others are retired? Sure, that’s an exaggeration, but you get the point.

Since I already mentioned Ray Bourque and the Boston Bruins, let’s take a look at their retired jersey numbers. In addition to Bourque, the Bruins currently have nine retired jersey numbers, which makes a total of 10. Yes, 10. Maybe add Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron in the future, and you’re at 12, plus Wayne Gretzky’s #99, which is retired league-wide.

I get it, it’s a great honor, and those guys deserve it. Most of them led their team to their most glorious times, including Stanley Cup wins. But wouldn’t it be enough to raise a banner for them, for everyone to see? It will hang right beside the Stanley Cup banners they won for the club.

Mar 10, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; A view of the retired numbers of former Dallas Stars players Bill Masterton (19) and Bill Goldsworthy (8) and Neal Broten (7) and Mike Modano (9) before the game between the Stars and the Columbus Blue Jackets at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

If Tyler Seguin wanted to wear #9 on his Stars jersey, I don’t see a reason why he shouldn’t. It’s Mike Modano’s number — the Mike Modano, America’s greatest scorer. But can’t a new player bring even more honor to that number?

The thing is, nobody will forget Wayne Gretzky existed, if a player came and wore #99 from now on. Gretzky’s goal and point numbers will forever remain untouched, no matter if someone else in the league wears #99. Nobody would forget Joe Sakic, if Mikko Rantanen wore #19 for the Avs, and nobody would forget Mark Messier, if Connor McDavid started wearing #11.

There is also a great example for how it all works without having retired jersey numbers. The Toronto Maple Leafs currently have the crazy number of 62 players in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Do they have 62 retired jersey numbers? No. Do they have 30? No. Maybe 20, 10 or even five? No.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs currently have two retired jersey numbers. Does that mean we don’t know who Jack Adams, Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin are? I think not. The great ones make a name for themselves, even when other players get to wear their number after them.

It’s obviously kind of hard to stop retiring numbers, and telling Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin that they were some of the best players the league has ever seen, but that they don’t get their number retired anyway.

But whatever way the league may find, please stop retiring numbers. Put up banners, honor your players. But don’t exaggerate it.

What’s your opinion on retired jersey numbers? Vote in the poll and let us know in the comments!

Next: New Avs Jersey Numbers, Hejduk's Retired?

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