Alternative Option to Jersey Retirement

By JD Lagrange – The debate on social media to know if Carey Price’s number should be retired or not is long, repetitive and, quite frankly, painful to read. But as we’ve already build what we consider a solid case for his to be raised to the rafters, we won’t get deeper into that. Instead, let’s focus on a related issue: no other players being able to wear the retired number.

When a player joins the Montreal Canadiens’ organization, he obviously can’t take any number that he wants. Young players are often assigned numbers to start. Veterans acquired in a trade or signing through free agency have to picks numbers that are not already assigned… unless they want to buy a Rolex to the player who has their favourite number, that is.

But in addition to that, That’s by far the most amongst NHL teams and it’s almost an entire team of numbers. Granted, it’s due to the Canadiens’ great history since being created in 1909, and a result of the 24 Stanley Cup banners also hanging in the rafters.

A different era

It’s time to get with the times. Back in the days, your odds of winning the Stanley Cup were much better than they are today… nowhere close. Here’s an example showing how much more difficult it is for a player like Carey Price to win the Stanley Cup, compared to Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy even.

Jacques Plante53-54 to 62-631060
Ken Dryden71-72 to 1978-79716.90
Patrick Roy85-86 to 94-951021.70
Carey Price07-08 to 21-221530.415

Let’s say that teams consist of 21 players, for arguments sake. It means that the correlation between number of teams raises the number of players in the league, and lowers the odds of winning. The same goes for winning a NHL Award. When there were six teams, you would have had less than 200 players in the NHL. Today, there is over 700, going from six teams to 32.

Also, the salary cap prevents teams from staying together longer, making it very difficult to have the success teams and players from the past to have comparable success.

New approach

Saku Koivu

Instead of retiring the numbers, teams should retire the player’s jersey. The difference? The jerseys (or banners) would still be hanging in the rafters of the Bell Centre as they are today. However, the number could be worn by another player.

The honour, the notoriety, the recognition for what the player has done would remain the exact same. But new players could choose to wear number 12 if they wish. But it would obviously not be Moore or Cournoyer’s #12.

Perhaps this way, fans might find it easier to justify recognizing what Saku Koivu or Carey Price have represented to this organization and to be honoured by the Montreal Canadiens, by having their banner being raised to the rafters. Then and only then, can we get with the times…

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3 thoughts on “Alternative Option to Jersey Retirement

  1. I could go along with a 2 tier model, for sure. Have another level where they are commemorated, and players are free to choose that number – along with the weight of expectation that would be involved. You could even make it that if, in time, the view of that player changes – they could be elevated to the current retired number status.

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