Friday, July 6, 2007

jersey numbers: the fight is on !!!

When Owen Nolan arrived in Toronto in 2003, Nik Antropov (in the midst of his first full year in the bigs) politely and appropriately gave up the #11 to the former Sharks captain. Nolan has worn the double-ones on every jersey he's ever donned in professional hockey: the Nordiques/Avalanche, the Sharks, the Leafs, the Desert Dogs, and each time he's played for Canada including the gold medal winning Olympic team in 2002.

Regardless of his playing history, or Antropov’s youthful gesture, it will be interesting to see if Nolan skates into this year’s training camp with #11 on the backside of his flaming C.

There is definitely a code when it comes to jersey numbers, whether written or not. Teams will occasionally retire jersey numbers of extraordinary players (and Mike Vernon), and no future player on that team will wear it again; exceptional circumstances, such as "unretiring" a number for the son of said player, notwithstanding. In 1999 the NHL retired Wayne Gretzky's #99 league-wide, an honour bestowed only upon one other figure in sporting history: baseball legend Jackie Robinson. The other, unspoken, rule is exemplified by Antropov’s 2003 courtesy; a player with seniority should be given the jersey number he is known for.

Stephane Yelle is a well respected and veteran NHLer, who has worn an "A" for the last few years and #11 for the entirety of his tenure in Calgary. My initial feeling on this subject was that Sandbox would keep his current jersey and Nolan would swallow some pride and select a new number for the first time when he steps on the ice at the Saddledome in September. On second glance, however, it seems that Yelle sported #26 for his first six years in the NHL (with the Avalanche). The reason ? Owen Nolan had already been wearing #11 the four previous years for that franchise. Sure, Nolan and Yelle only laced up their skates together for about 9 games but, as a rookie, Yelle must have had a lot of respect and admiration for a teammate and similar-style player like Nolan. While I am at a loss to find a reason behind Yelle choosing #11 when he arrived in Calgary (aside from the fact that Petrovicky was already wearing #26, prompting a change), it's reasonable to think that the gentlemanly forward will give #11 back to Nolan next season. Complicating the situation, of course, is that fact that #26 is unavailable since Marcus Nilson has been wearing it for years…

Personally, I think Yelle should take #21, so the exact same situation doesn’t occur between Flames newbie Corey Sarich and sophomoric benchwarmer David Hale…



[as a p.s, i would like to point out that this site has some really interesting and useless information on oddball jerseys ---like triple digit jerseys and players who wore #0.]

5 comments:

duncan said...

Major League Baseball retired Jackie Robinson's No. 42 in 1997. Players who already had the number were allowed to continue with it till they either switched or retired; occasionally, MLB will have a Jackie Robinson day, and various players are allowed to wear 42 for one game in his honour.

Anyway, good eye on this issue. On another team I'd think one of Yelle or Nolan would take 77 (because it looks similar), but Sutter/Keenan would rightly never allow it. My bet is on Nolan taking whatever's available, unless Yelle decides to be a nice guy. Then he'll take whatever's available.

walkinvisible said...

yep. agreed. i will wager that yelle will be a superstar and give nolan #11 (unless, of course, nolan WANTS a new #). my money's on nolan showing up in the double-ones.

any bets on who will wear #21 ?

Sebastien said...

Hey guys,

Owen Nolan had wear the #88 in 1990 for few games with the Nordiques before to choose definetly the #11...

Another thing, Joe Sakic had wear too the #88 for he's careet debut in Quebec...

He will wear the #11 in Calgary, i'm sure :)

A new fan of the Calgary Flames due to Nolan venue.

ConroyToIginla said...

10 or 13... calling it :)

I'm almost disappointed now that Nilson was re-signed.. it would've opened up that #26 for Yelle.

Sebastien said...

The suspense it's over

Stéphane Yelle #7

Owen Nolan #11

Source : Calgary Flames official site