Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Kelly, Salming and Day

The Leafs have announced that opening night Borje Salming, Red Kelly and Hap Day will have their numbers honoured with a banner for each raised to the ACC rafters.

I don’t mean to be all negative all the time (you have the Star’s Damien Cox if that’s your bag) but I have two issues with this.

First, let’s give each player their own ceremony. There are 41 home dates and other than the Hockey Hall of Fame game, I’m sure the club can find two more opportunities by cancelling Quaker Harvest Oats Toque night; Catelli Bat Day and the Chacin Cologne promo among the 39 remaining nights of hockey.

Second, enough with the shoulder patches and “honouring” numbers. The Leafs should be recognizing the depth of their history and tradition by retiring these numbers. Full stop.

I know, I hear you - it's official team policy to only retire jerseys for players who are struck by tragedy while members of the club (it’s a good thing they make this distinction or else Horton’s #7 would be retired but alas, he died a member of the Buffalo Sabres).

This club policy also ensures players like John Kordic (27), Mike Craig (9) Marius Czerkawski (21) and a long list of call-ups, one year wonders and has beens honour the blue and white and all of Leafs Nation by wearing the numbers of former Leaf greats…(when you go 40 years without a Cup, the list of inappropriate players wearing honoured numbers is pretty much endless - who didn't get goosebumps and recall the magic of Darryl Sittler while watching Alexandre Khavanov play in #27? )

Leaf “Retired” Numbers
5 Bill Barilko
6 Ace Bailey

Leaf “Honoured” Numbers
1 Johnny Bower and Turk Broda
4 Red Kelly and Hap Day
7 King Clancy and Tim Horton
10 Syl Apps and George Armstrong
21 Borje Salming
27 Frank Mahovolich and Darryl Sittler

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