Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander has changed his number from 29 to 88. A move that has angered a lot of the usually reserved #Leafstwitter crowd:
It is an embarrassment. # 88 is affiliated with one N.H.L. Player – Eric Lindros, who wore it for the Leafs during 2 Seasons. I’d be surprised if Brendan Shanahan (a good friend of Eric) would allow Nylander to wear # 88.
— Peter Jackson (@RealPistolPete7) July 15, 2019
This became such a story that Eric Lindros was trending in Canada. Fortunately WAMJNA still has fans in Toronto, and a fair few of them came to his defence, making watching the story unfold on twitter, all the more funnier:
I’m 100% cool with Nylander switching to #88. Only one number should be retired across the whole league – #99. Every other retired number is team specific. Eric Lindros in Philly – sure, but his number does not deserve to be retired as a Leaf. #LeafsForever
— Johnny Toronto 🇨🇦 (@johnnytoronto99) July 15, 2019
There were many, many more tweets that you should read, but this article isn’t about an inconsequential decision. It’s a chance to take a look at the esteemed company Nylander is joining by donning the #88, Starting with current NHL-ers:
If we look at the best of the best, then Nylander is numbering up with Brent Burns, Patrick Kane and David Pastrnak. There’s also Tampa’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, but he’s a goalie. Stepping down to the second line; there’s Nate Schmidt, Adam Gaudette and Andrew Mangiapane. I’m yet to see #justiceformangiapane88 trending.
It looks like the first player to wear #88 was the New York Rangers’ Ken Hodge back in 1977. Hodge was joined by Cory Conacher, Brandon Davidson, Xavier Delisle, Chris Higgins, Garry Howatt, Jarome Iginla, Peter Mueller, Owen Nolan, Joe Sakic, Rob Schremp, Rocky Trottier and Nikita Tryamkin.
The Great 88
That’s quite the list. #88 truly belongs to Eric Lindros. So much so that the Philadelphia Flyers retired #88 in January last year. This is fair, Lindros was the Flyers’ youngest captain, his 659 points is the fifth-most for a Flyer and his antics on the ‘Legion of Doom’ saw him inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame. It’s understandable by Flyers fans hold Lindros in deep regard, but let’s be honest, Lindros will be forever remembered for his time in Toronto. It’s completely valid for Leafs fans to be upset about Nylander switching to #88. After all, Lindros played a thousand games for the Maple Leafs and lead team to nine Stanley Cups… No wait… Lindros scored 22 points in 33 games, got hurt and missed the rest of the season. The Leafs finished 4th in the Northeast division and missed the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. Lindros went to Dallas.
There are some fantastic Toronto fans out there, but the team also has a reputation for having one of the most toxic fan bases and media in the NHL. Of course most sensible, level-headed fans don’t care that Nylander has changed his number, especially as he’s paying to get jerseys renumbered. For the vocal minority losing their minds over the situation; keep going, it’s hilarious for the rest of us to watch.
God damn I miss hockey.