Thursday, 21 July 2011

No Debate On Nine

I have been listening to the debate about whether Evander Kane should be allowed to wear #9 after that number was elevated to legendary status in Winnipeg by hockey great Bobby Hull. There are arguments for and against why Kane should or should not wear that historic number, and it appears that Kane will seek Bobby Hull's permission to wear the number while playing as a member of the new Winnipeg Jets. Honestly, I admire Kane for seeking out Hull to get his blessing, but there shouldn't be a debate. The former Jets franchise still exists, and their history has nothing to do with the current Jets history. Therefore, honouring the great players who played here before this version of the Jets arrived is a great idea, but keeping those numbers retired because they were retired Jets numbers makes no sense since the former Jets, along with all of their history and franchise records, is still alive in Phoenix.

When Brett Hull wanted to wear #9 to honour his dad when he signed a contract with the Phoenix Coyotes, I understand he wanted his dad's blessing to wear his dad's former number. That makes total sense since Brett was asking Bobby to wear a number that was retired by that franchise at some point in their history. That makes logical and complete sense.

So why does it seem so difficult to separate the two franchises' histories when it comes to who is wearing what number? The old Winnipeg Jets are now the Phoenix Coyotes. The new Winnipeg Jets were the Atlanta Thrashers. They share no history whatsoever. The new Jets have publicly said that they will honour the late Dan Snyder in some way, illustrating that they will carry the history of the Thrashers forward with the new Jets team.

Therefore, I have to ask: can you have your cake and eat it too?

In comparison, the Manitoba Moose retired Mike Keane's number, and honoured him by raising it to the rafters. Mike Keane was a very popular player during his time with the Moose, and he was a great leader. Should anyone who wears #12 have to seek his permission to wear that number? After all, True North Sports and Entertainment decided to honour Keane with this accolade, and they own the new Jets. Does that mean that players like Josh Bailey, Paul Bissonnette, Mike Fisher, or Patrick Marleau would have to contact Mike Keane to get his blessing if they were to join the Jets?

Now some of you may argue that the AHL's Moose and the NHL's Jets are in separate leagues, both figuratively and literally, but the point stands: the same ownership group honoured Mike Keane in their building where the Jets will play. Does Mike Keane get some say as to who can carry the torch he held high in MTS Centre as the next #12 in Winnipeg hockey history?

The answer, to me, is no. These are two teams with entirely different histories. The AHL Moose have no historical connection to the current Winnipeg Jets, thereby eliminating any discussion over who can wear #12 in Winnipeg despite being owned by the same owners. However, because the Moose franchise relocated to St. John's, Newfoundland, Mike Keane's #12 should still be honoured on The Rock because it's the SAME FRANCHISE.

I fully respect and commend Evander Kane for getting Bobby Hull's approval on Kane wearing #9, though. That shows an immense amount of class and respect towards what Bobby Hull meant to the city of Winnipeg. I have no doubt that Bobby Hull will grant Kane permission to wear #9, so this should all be put to rest shortly.

If the new Jets franchise wants to honour players like Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne, and others, that's fine with me. But this franchise did not retire those numbers in its history, and therefore should not have any say regarding who can wear what number. If you want to honour Dan Snyder (which also shows class and which I respect), you can't bring up another franchise's history and make it your own.

Honestly, though, the more that I think about this, the more I'm not sure why there was a debate in the first place. Evander Kane is the only #9 for the new Jets, and deserves to get a clean sheet of paper to write his own history while wearing that number.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Peter Santellan said...

I'm in agreement in the sense that the new Jets are not in any way, shape, or form, similar to the old Jets, save for the name and city they play for. Having said that, it's nice of Kane to ask permission because it's a good step in tying the two incarnations together. It's also nice of the new Jets to keep some of the traditions of the Thrashers alive, with the Dan Snyder #37 honoring.

All that said, what are your thoughts on the logos that the Jets will be sporting come October?

Teebz said...

I was working on that while you posted, Dr. Pete! :o)