Five NHL Players Whose Numbers Should Be Retired

The Philadelphia Flyers announced on Monday that they’ll be recognising Eric Lindros‘ contribution by retiring the number 88. Lindros was the first overall pick in 1991 and played eight seasons in the city of brotherly love.

Classy move Philly. The seven-time All Star was nominated to the Hall of Fame in 2016. The Flyers’ retirement of #88 got us thinking; which other players deserve to have their numbers retired? And by which teams? Here are some options, along with some opinions from fans.

Paul Kariya – Anaheim Ducks

Number – 9

The Ducks selected Paul Kariya 4th overall in the 1993 entry draft, and alongside Teemu Selanne; the winger went on to be one of Anaheim’s best players. In nine seasons at The Pond, Kariya scored 669 regular season points, including two 100-point seasons. The third captain in franchise history took the team to three playoffs. Injury was never far away from Kariya, and in 1997/98 he played in just 22 games. The following season saw Kariya back at full fitness and back on top form.

After previous contract disputes the inevitable happened. In 2003 Kariya broke Anaheim’s heart when he left the team and joined the Colorado Avalanche. Selanne had already jumped ship and the opportunity to play with Joe Sakic and Steve Konowalchuk was temptation enough for Kariya (how times have changed). The Denver dream lasted just one season and after stints with Nashville and St. Louis Kariya retired after medical advice.

The number nine jersey went unclaimed from after Kariya’s departure in 2003 until 2009 when Bobby Ryan wore it until 2013. It’s currently not in use. The Ducks absolutely need to retire Kariya’s number. There are many fans for whom Kariya’s name still brings bitter memories, but there are many more who feel that #9 should be hanging in the rafters next to Selanne’s #8. Whether or not Kariya will attend the retirement ceremony is a different question…

Larry Aurie – Detroit Red Wings

Number – 6

Technically Aurie’s number has already been retired, although you won’t find it hanging in the rafters at the Little Caeser’s Arena. Aurie spent a dozen seasons with the organisation, way back in it’s Cougars and Falcons days. When the team transformed into the Red Wings we know and love, Aurie was the the team’s first captain.

His numbers may look pedestrian by today’s standards but when the league was young Aurie led the way. He took the fledgling team to playoffs when they had no right being there.

Aurie’s jersey used to hang in the rafters of the Olympia, although his number was reissued in 1958 when Cummy Burton, Aurie’s nephew played a short stint for the Red Wings. The number became available again in 1959 but has never been reissued. There have been campaigns and petitions by Aurie’s family to get the number retired but nothing has come of it. Former Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch was always tight lipped about his reasons for refusing to honour these requests.

The move to the LCA is a new start for the Red Wings, and the organisation should jump on the opportunity to officially retire a jersey that is already effectively retired. Aurie deserves this.

Tim Thomas – Boston Bruins

Number – 30

Tim Thomas has lifted the Vezina Trophy (twice), the William M Jennings Trophy and the Conn Smythe Trophy. His name is on the Stanley Cup. In 2011 Thomas backstopped the Boston Bruins to their first Cup in nearly four decades with superb numbers. Thomas holds the records for most saves in a postseason (708) and most saves in a final series (238).

Despite this Thomas is also known for being controversial. He famously declined to visit the White House after Boston’s Cup win, and was suspended by the team after failing to attend training camp.

2011 marked Thomas’ peak in the NHL. After sitting out a year he signed a one year deal with the Florida Panthers, playing 40 games before being traded to Dallas. Thomas is eligible for the numbers-centric Hall of Fame, and has a good chance of being nominated. Whether or not he’s done enough to have the #30 jersey raised to the Bruins’ crowded rafters is another question…

Sergei Fedorov – Detroit Red Wings

Number – 91

It’s baffling that Fedorov’s number hasn’t already been retired. Even the greats considered him one of the best players in the league. In addition to helping the Wings win three Stanley Cups in his 13 seasons with the organisation, Fedorov played over 900 games and scored over 950 points.

Fedorov’s 2003 departure from the team that drafted him way back in 1989 left a bitter taste for many Red Wings fans. His contribution was immense but the six-time All Star became a free agent as the end of the CBA approached. Despite Detroit and Anaheim offering the same amount of money, the Ducks’ contract was shorter so Fedorov jumped ship to the west coast.

The Californian dream became the Ohio dream which became the D.C. dream and in 2009 Fedorov left the NHL and returned the KHL before retiring from hockey altogether. Hailed by many as one of the best two-way players to ever take to the ice, his nomination to the Hall of Fame was an absolute no-brainer. Retiring his number should be done the day the Little Caesers Arena opens. Had Fedorov retired as a Red Wing? This wouldn’t even be a discussion.

Vincent Lecavalier – Tampa Bay Lightning

Number 4

Your final nominee is a Tampa Bay Lightning legend who still holds the franchise record for most points in a single season (108). It’s 1998’s first overall draft pick Vincent Lecavalier. He may only have retired in 2016 but the guy is a legend in the Tampa Bay area. Sure, the Lightning bought Lecavalier out of his contract in 2013, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he helped the team to its sole Stanley Cup victory.

The Lightning are a team with precious little history, only Martin St.Louis’ name currently hangs in the rafters. That will no doubt be joined by Steven Stamkos when he retires. Lecavalier’s name should be up there too. Over 1,200 NHL games and nearly 950 points is worthy of celebration.

If I had my way, these five players would have their names hoisted up above the ice where they gave their best performances, and their numbers should be taken out of circulation in recognition. Do you agree with these names? Have I missed someone off who should really be up there? Comment below or join in the conversation on Twitter.

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