The Vancouver Province has a story that Evander Kane is considering asking Bobby Hull for permission to wear #9 next season. Puck Daddy followed up with a write up on this Jets legacy issue, we can expect more of them as time goes on.
A huge nod to Evander Kane for being aware of how this is an issue and recognizing how historical memories and the legacy of the Jets is important to fans in Winnipeg. I anticipated these types of things happening in my previous post on the Jets identity and their legacy.
The facts are that technically the history of the Jets is the Thrahsers, plain and simple. The Jets (1979) are the Coyotes but that simply is not the reality of what the majority of Jets fans perceive. As they say in politics, perception is reality.
Evander Kane should consider asking the fans what they think. For those of you who are so inclined, consider contacting Evander directly on the issue. He can be reached via Twitter @EKane9JETS
Vote in the poll IF you are a Jets fan. (One of the things I've noticed about Arctic Ice is that Gabe and Ben did such a great job with the previous incarnation that they built up a huge readership of hockey fans across the spectrum, really I am interested in what Jets fans think in particular on this issue)
As a history buff I look to precedent on the issue and I advocate unofficially recognizing Hull's #9, Hawerchuk's #10 and Thomas Steen's #25. In other cases where numbers were retired and the team moved, the aquiring city did not keep the retirement of numbers.
When the Quebec Nordiques were moved to Colorado the Avalanche promptly returned all the retired numbers of J.C. Tremblay, Marc Tardiff, Michel Goulet and Peter Stastny to circulation. Why wouldn't they? The fans in Denver had no memories of these players. Carolina did the same thing when they received the Hartford Whalers but Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, well I don't blame the Coyotes organization for wanting to keep those names in their rafters, despite neither player ever setting foot in Phoenix.
On this issue, unlike franchise scoring records and other historical items there is a large degree of discretion. The retirement of numbers is really something that is done for the fans. They are the ones who get to look up in the rafters at them and reminisce on the players.
Some teams retire numbers fast and with very little hesitation. Toronto is a good example and hence their massive collection of honored numbers (15) but they only truly have 2 retired numbers, Ace Bailey (#6) and Bill Barilko (#5).
Others do it very rarely. Detroit, despite an eternity in the NHL only has 6 retired numbers.
There is only just over a 100 numbers retired in the entire NHL and no I am not counting the #7 the Canucks retired for the fans. That was just flat out odd and out of historical sync for how retired numbers are treated with such respect by most teams.
When you consider that many Hockey Hall of Fame players do not even get the honor, Evander Kane is rightly respectful of the issue.
The debate will likely form into two general camps.
One group will say this is a new Jets team with a new legacy and Kane has every right to wear #9, with or without Bobby Hull's permission. If he gets it great, that is a little PR for the masses of fans who may resist it and hopefully placate them.
The other group will want to keep the Jets (1979) legacy alive and say no. We may not be able to officially hang those numbers yet but maybe we will eventually. Who knows if the Coyotes will even want to continue to retain those former Jet numbers. The Jets may be able to return those numbers to the rafters because the fact is the memories and reminders of those players are ours, they belong to us.
How do you feel about the issue?