Friday, February 10, 2012

What does it take to have a player's number retired?

Mats Sundin played for 3 Canadian NHL teams throughout the '90s and 2000s.  No wonder he never won a Cup.

Tomorrow night, the Toronto Maple Leafs will do something that they rarely do (no, not win the Stanley Cup...).  They will retire Mats Sundin's #13.  He'll join Ace Bailey and Bill Barilko as the only Maple Leafs to ever have their numbers retired by the club.  That got me wondering, what does it take to have a player's number retired?  Obviously, each team has a slightly different requirement to do the honor.  After hours (okay, minutes) of research, here's what I found.

Montreal Canadiens - Basically, if you're French-Canadian, scored a few goals, won a Cup, were really short or gave up 10 goals in a game, your number was retired.  Then there's Ken Dryden.  He was pretty good, though.

Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs have a tradition of only retiring numbers of Stanley Cup champion players.  Of course, after decades and decades of having nothing to do, they lifted that requirement for Mats Sundin.  Or maybe they're honoring his number.  There's a difference...

New Jersey Devils - It's pretty simple in New Jersey: if you're a defenseman and you win three Stanley Cups, your number gets retired.  That includes Martin Brodeur as a defenseman.

New York Rangers - Following New York sports tradition, if you were a fan favorite and didn't sign with your team's biggest rival, your number is automatically retired.

New York Islanders - The Isles also require a Stanley Cup for a player's number to be retired.  Or maybe they've just been so awful lately that there's been no numbers to retire...

Edmonton Oilers - In Edmonton, you have to break some kind of all-time NHL record or score 8 points in a game to have your number retired.  The only active player who has a chance would be Sam Gagner.

Colorado Avalanche - The Avs will retire your number if you've had a Hall of Fame career in another city, but came to finish your career in Denver, even if you came back for two games.

Calgary Flames - The only two players that have had their numbers retired by the Flames have been a guy with a large mustache and the guy who preceeded Chris Osgood in Detroit.

Philadelphia Flyers - The only players that the Flyers will retire their number for is if they lost teeth in fights or knocked someone out during games.  They also retired Bernie Parent's number, but no goalies since.

Pittsburgh Penguins - There's only two numbers retired in Pittsburgh, and both players were French-Canadian, so Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have no chance to have their numbers retired.

Columbus Blue Jackets - Anyone who suffered through years of misery in Columbus has their number retired.  For example......alright, so nobody.

Detroit Red Wings - The Wings have retired most of the numbers from players of their 1990s-present dynasty, except for one stubborn Swedish defenseman who refuses to retire.

NHL - In order for the NHL to retire your number league-wide, you have to have the most points, goals and assists of all-time and do a commercial for ESPN SportsCenter.