Thursday, September 07, 2006

Hangin' from the rafters

Not to get all circular here, but Pension Plan Puppets has a nice read in reaction to my thoughts on the Leafs honouring rather than retiring numbers.

Further to PPP’s thought provoking post, I gave some quick thought as to the criteria I’d institute if I were running the show down at the ACC (and Lord help us if that were the case, I can’t even win my hockey pool).

First, a few caveats – when it comes to defencmen, it’s tough to rely on stats as a major indicator for jersey retirement - it's much easier to measure the impact of goalies and forwards, that's why I've put in a softer, final catch-all criterion.

And as much as I love the Red Sox criteria, given the amount of player movement in the NHL, I think it’s far too much to expect the player to have spent their entire career with the Leafs (or to even have retired as a Leaf) so I didn't include that one in my list.

Here's what I did come up be eligible to have a number retired, the player has to meet both of the following two baseline criteria:

  1. Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame
  2. Spent the majority of their NHL career as a Leaf (e.g. played for 10 years, six or more of those had to be with the Blue and White)
In addition to the above, the player would also have to meet at least 2 of the following 3 criterion:
  1. Won or been nominated for one of the major NHL trophies such as the Stanley Cup, Hart, Vezina, Jennings, Calder, Rocket Richard, Conn Smythe, Norris or Lady Byng while playing as a Leaf
  2. Lead (or have led) the Leafs organization in at least one major statistical category (e.g. career games played, career goals, career assists, career +/-, career points, shut outs, GAA, wins, etc.)
  3. Been a pioneer or transformational player for the organization

I think the team should also have special dispensation to retire a number in the event that a player had promising career cut tragically short a la Tim Horton, Bill Barilko or Doug Gilmour (kidding about that last one, at least he got to retire a Leaf after that one magical last shift).

For those players who don’t make the cut against these criteria they can have their numbers honoured. But let’s make sure there are no more Kordics, Khavanov’s, Marchment’s and DeBlois skating around in #27. It's just not right.


  1. Anonymous9:56 pm

    What about players like Wendel Clark, who the fans loved so much they had to bring him back, (and Dougie), or Eddy Shack, and probably a few others that give the 50 somethings a twinkle in their eyes. I personally don't think I want to see anyone else wearing 17, 93, or now 28 - they may not have been the best of the best but dang I loved those guys!

  2. Hi Dawn,

    Of those three, Gilmour is the only one I could see having his number retired and even that may be a bit of a long shot.

    Wendel may have been a fan favourite and was nominated for the Calder, but in the big scheme of things, he didn't have a huge impact or put up impressive numbers. In his entire career he never managed to play a full 82 game season and is nowhere near a point a game player (564 pts/793 games).

    I think retiring numbers should be a pretty rare thing. Consider that the Habs, with the depth of their history and success, have only retired seven numbers in 97 years of hockey.

    Don't get me wrong, players like Wendel should be considered for some sort of team recognition, but only the truly great/legendary players should have their numbers retired.