Stanley Cup rings are a testament to the ability of an entire team and coaching staff to achieve a season-long goal. The Conn Smythe Trophy and Hart Memorial Trophy are awarded for outstanding seasons by individual players. Hall of Fame inductions are recognitions of players’ contributions to the sport of hockey.
But one of the few acknowledgements of what a player means to a franchise over the course of his career comes not in the form of hardware, but as a simple cloth banner in the rafters of the team’s home arena. In NHL history, franchises have retired only 103 numbers, making this club more exclusive than any in the hockey world.
Some franchises, like Nicklas Lidstrom's Detroit Red Wings, are certainly already planning ceremonies to honor their heroes next season. Others may take years, even decades, before deeming a player worthy of permanent enshrinement so exclusive.
Some players on this list are in the early stages of their careers, garnering recognition more for their potential than their true accomplishments.
Others are old-time hockey legends, long overdue for the honor.
These are the next numbers to be retired by each NHL franchise.
Confirmed by Yahoo!Sports that he is foregoing retirement for another year, Teemu Selanne is still performing in the twilight of his career. He is the all-time leader in goals, assists, points, playoff goals and playoff points for the Anaheim Ducks. Playoffs and regular season combined, Selanne has notched 997 points as a Duck.
Despite playing with Anaheim legends like Paul Kariya and Scott Niedermayer, Selanne’s No. 8 (or No. 13, take your pick) is the runaway candidate to be Anaheim’s first jersey to be retired.
The Boston Bruins have a rich history, with 10 players whose numbers have already been retired, many of them dating back to the Original Six days. But the team failed to capture a Cup from 1972 until 2011, when captain Zdeno Chara led the team through three seven-game series and returned Boston to its former glory.
Possessing a monster slapshot and a Norris Trophy, Chara could see his No. 33 jersey hanging from the ceiling of the Garden after his career is over. And even if the Bruins don’t give him a ceremony, the 6’9" beast could probably hang it there himself.
The Dominator failed to capture a Cup with the Sabres, but in his nine seasons in Buffalo, his numbers tell a story that inevitably ends with his number being retired. Hasek has a save percentage below .919% only once in his nine years, and a goals-against-average over 2.27 only twice.
During his tenure in Buffalo, Hasek was the most unbeatable goalie in the league, despite playing in the same era as Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur. Once the league believes he is truly retired (you never know with a guy like Hasek), the Sabres will undoubtedly make No. 39 the seventh jersey to be taken out of circulation.
MacInnis’s No. 2 was honored this season in Calgary’s first Forever A Flame ceremony, but the number is not officially categorized as retired. However, MacInnis is third all-time on the team’s scoring list and is the franchise leader in assists.
Most importantly for Flames fans, MacInnis was a major contributor to the team’s lone Stanley Cup, in 1989. MacInnis won the Conn Smythe, an obvious choice as he became the first defenseman in NHL history to lead the league in points during the playoffs.
At some point before current captain Jarome Iginla retires and sees his No. 12 raised in the Saddledome, MacInnis’s jersey will get the official treatment, too.
Speculating about Carolina’s next retired number requires a look in a crystal ball, but captain Eric Staal seems to be the most likely candidate at this point. Of course, the 27-year-old centerman was the subject of trade rumors all season (HockeyBuzz), making the Hurricane faithful nervous that he would leave Carolina for good.
But with the offseason addition of his brother Jordan, the Staals are unquestionably the faces of the franchise.
Eric Staal trails only Ron Francis for the team lead in goals, assists and points. And while Staal is a long way from catching Francis in those categories, just being in proximity to one of the all-time greats is a testament to Staal’s incredible contribution to the Carolina Hurricanes.
Some Blackhawks fans get a bad taste in their mouths when they hear Chelios’s name, because he was traded to—and essentially finished his career with—the hated Detroit Red Wings. However, Chelios’s contributions to a struggling Chicago franchise are undeniable.
Chelios served as captain for parts of four seasons and was a major contributor to the Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1992.
Chelios also won two Norris Trophies as a ‘Hawk, and was one of the last great players to play for Chicago before the youth movement that has produced Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.
One day, the city of Chicago will stop thinking of Chelios as a Red Wing and honor him as a Blackhawk.
The most storied members of Colorado’s 2001 championship team (Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg and Ray Bourque) all have their numbers retired, but one important piece of those glory days is missing from the rafters: Adam Foote’s No. 52.
Foote’s career numbers reflect his role as a stay-at-home defenseman, but his strength and defensive reliability made him a perennial in the Avalanche zone during his 13 seasons with the team (17 if you include four years playing with the Quebec Nordiques).
Foote was a major part of what made Denver the center of the hockey world in the late 1990s and early 2000s, and he should be honored accordingly.
Certainly no player has yet spent enough time as a member of the Blue Jackets to warrant the honor, but the only player whose candidacy could even be considered at this point would be Rick Nash.
Nash is already the franchise leader in goals, assists and points, and his attitude, despite playing in an undesirable hockey location, has made him one of the most likable players in the league. But his name is now inseparable from the term “trade rumors,” and it is all but certain that Nash will not be a Blue Jacket much longer.
For now, though, Nash is the only qualified candidate in Ohio.
Of course, in 10-15 years when Nash is retired, the city of Columbus may not have a franchise to honor him, anyway.
The recently retired Modano is an obvious choice for the Dallas Stars. It was largely thanks to Modano’s contributions that hockey caught on in Texas, and he was a major part of the franchise’s 1999 Stanley Cup championship.
His 557 goals, 802 assists and 1,359 points are all franchise-highs for the Stars.
He is also one of the greatest American-born players of all-time, and it won’t be long before his No. 9 becomes a star on the backdrop of the American Airlines Center.
The Red Wings have plenty of legendary players to choose from when it comes to retiring numbers, ranging from goal scorers like Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan to some of the game’s top defensemen and goalies, like Slava Fetisov and Chris Osgood.
However, Nicklas Lidstrom is in a class of his own.
The remarkable defenseman is fourth in franchise history in scoring and has won four Stanley Cups, seven Norris Trophies and a Conn Smythe Trophy. He is almost universally considered the ideal blend of on-ice ability, locker-room leadership and off-ice class.
Now that Lidstrom has chosen to hang up the skates, it’s simply a matter of setting the date to hang up a banner for one of hockey’s all-time greats.
It takes a lot to join a group of jerseys with last names like Kurri, Fuhr, Messier and Gretzky stitched on the back, but the most likely candidate seems to be once-and-future Oiler Ryan Smyth, who ranks sixth on the team’s impressive list of all-time scorers.
More dynamic scorers like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle are also candidates, but being in the early stages of their careers, there is simply too much that could change to look down the road and consider them candidates.
Besides, the wily veteran Smyth will be a major factor in their development before he finally hangs up the skates and hopefully has his jersey raised to the ceiling.
As a young, struggling franchise, the Panthers haven’t seen much success from their players.
The players who got the most attention (like Pavel Bure and Roberto Luongo) didn’t stay in Florida long enough to warrant retiring a jersey, and those who became staples on the franchise (Olli Jokinen and Stephen Weiss) didn’t quite achieve a level of stardom that justifies enshrining their jerseys, either.
That’s why I nominate the only person in the BankAtlantic Center to draw any sort of attention in the last decade and a half: the flashing Panthers fan. Something tells me she wouldn’t have a problem giving the jersey off her back to be retired to the rafters.
Okay, there is one deserving member of the Panthers. Scott Mellanby was a perennial part of the Panthers through the good years and the bad, playing for Florida in eight different seasons, scoring the franchise’s first goal and serving as captain until he was traded to St. Louis.
I will acknowledge that if the Flashing Fan gets recognized, Mellanby should as well. Perhaps some sort of joint banner ceremony is appropriate. I’m sure Scott won’t mind.
Rob Blake played 20 seasons in the NHL, including parts of 14 campaigns with the Los Angeles Kings. He served as captain after the departure of Wayne Gretzky, becoming a rare hybrid of "imposing defensive figure" and "legitimate scoring threat".
Blake topped 50 points in a season four times as a King and is ninth on the team’s all-time scoring list, an impressive mark for a player whose responsibilities were primarily inside his own blue line.
His No. 4 deserves to be retired with the likes of Gretzky, Luc Robitaille and Marcel Dionne.
This Minnesota franchise may be too young to warrant retiring a jersey, but at the moment, the most qualified candidate is the team’s first superstar, Marian Gaborik.
Gaborik ranks first on the team’s all-time scoring list and is the only Wild player to net over 200 goals in his eight seasons in Minnesota.
He rejected an $80 million deal to stay in Minnesota and departed for New York via free agency. The bad taste left by his exit may prevent him from being honored in Minnesota, but at the moment, he is the most qualified player in the franchise’s history.
Of course, if the team is okay with waiting 13 years, then we can throw Zach Parise and Ryan Suter into the mix.
The Canadiens have retired 17 numbers, more than any other franchise in the NHL, so it would take quite an achievement to be honored by the most storied franchise in hockey history.
That honor could only go to someone who totaled more points than Elmer Lach and Guy Lapointe, more assists than Yvan Cournoyer and “Rocket Richard” and held the captaincy longer than anyone in Canadiens’ history except Jean Beliveau.
On top of it all, Saku Koivu has never missed a full season in his NHL career despite being diagnosed with cancer before the start of the 2001-02 campaign. He would return before the regular season ended. He may not be French, but something tells me this Finn has done more than enough to become the 18th Canadien to have his number retired.
Barry Trotz may not be a player, but the franchise would be crazy not to put his name in the rafters when his tenure in Nashville ends (if it ever does).
Of all the head coaches currently in the NHL, only Buffalo’s Lindy Ruff has held his position longer, and no other head coach has stood behind the bench for the entirety of his team’s existence. No first-coach-in-franchise-history has ever coached more games with their team than Trotz.
Trotz was selected as the team’s coach when Nashville was an expansion team in 1997, starting with a relatively successful 28 win season in 1997-98. Trotz has won at least 40 games in each of the team’s last seven seasons and has made the playoffs in seven of eight, including this year.
It will be appropriate to honor Trotz in some way, perhaps by raising a banner with the number 97 on it to signify the beginning of his legendary tenure with the team.
Is there any doubt about this one? Martin Brodeur is a lock for the NHL Hall of Fame and will undoubtedly have his No. 30 retired by the Devils. The only question is just how many goaltending records he will hold when it happens.
Career wins, minutes played, shutouts, saves…Brodeur is the Wayne Gretzky of goaltenders: whatever the record is, he probably holds it.
The Golden Age of the Islanders took place during the 1980s, when the franchise won four consecutive Stanley Cups. Most of the prominent players of that time period, like Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin, have had their numbers retired by the Isles.
Brent Sutter burst onto the scene in the midst of that dynasty, winning the Stanley Cup in his first two seasons. He would end his tenure with the Isles as the franchise’s fifth most prolific scorer and was the successor to Potvin for the team’s captaincy.
Jean Ratelle scored 817 points in 862 career regular season games. He played on a line with Ranger legend Rod Gilbert, the only player in team history with more goals than Ratelle.
In fact, the overlooked Ratelle is arguably the greatest Ranger in history not named Gilbert or Leetch, yet his No. 19 has never found its way to the ceiling of Madison Square Garden.
Perhaps the fact that he ended his career in Boston leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Rangers fans, but hey, so did Brian Leetch. It’s time for Ratelle to be enshrined in Manhattan.
It will be a short turnaround time between when Daniel Alfredsson retires and when his No. 11 is retired itself at Scotiabank Place.
Alfredsson is far and away the franchise leader in goals, assists and points and is one of only a few active players with more than 1,000 career points. Add in his leadership and character, and there is nothing not to like about the Ottawa captain. The only thing missing is a Cup.
This season, the Flyers finally retired Mark Howe’s No. 2, possibly paving the way to honor another important defenseman in Flyers history.
Eric Desjardins played 11 seasons in Philadelphia, serving significant time as alternate captain and succeeding Eric Lindros as captain when Lindros was traded (Desjardins also played the role of captain on the numerous occasions when Lindros was hurt, holding out, or at odds with the media).
While not flashy, Desjardins was a staple of the dangerous Flyers’ teams of the 1990s and 2000s. Like Howe, it may take a little time to receive recognition, but Desjardins deserves a spot among the legends in the Wells Fargo Center.
Even including the franchise’s days in Winnipeg, Shane Doan has still managed to be the third-leading scorer in team history. Doan has been consistent for a franchise that has been anything but, and has relied on his character as much as his skill to generate interest in the Coyotes in a very difficult hockey market.
Doan’s tenure with the Coyotes may be coming to an end (depending on the franchise’s fate in Glendale), but even if that happens, No. 19 will be remembered by Phoenix’s hockey fans as a class-act who deserves formal recognition.
His number may never be retired if the team moves out of Phoenix, but unlucky circumstances aside, Doan has certainly earned it.
One would expect Pens fans to grimace at the thought of Jagr being honored in the Steel City, given his supposed “betrayal” that took place in free agency last offseason. However, his achievements for the Pens speak more loudly than his decision to join the Flyers does.
Jagr’s 1,079 points between 1990 and 2001 are the second-most in Penguins’ history, trailing only Mario Lemieux.
It’s hard to picture an NHL where Jagr’s unique No. 68 is retired nowhere, and once the Penguins have time to forgive his decision to join the rival Flyers, Jagr will receive a well-deserved ceremony at Consol Energy Center.
The young San Jose Sharks’ franchise has no numbers retired to date, but they would be crazy not to honor the team’s former captain, Owen Nolan, who epitomized the blend of toughness and talent that has been a San Jose staple for more than a decade.
Nolan helped give the organization an identity, bringing intangibles to the ice and creating excitement for the Sharks in the community. Only Patrick Marleau has scored more goals in Sharks history than Nolan, and Nolan also sits third in assists and points.
Nearly ten years after he was traded to Toronto, it is still difficult to think of the Sharks without thinking of Owen Nolan.
Chris Pronger has had a long and storied career, but after a brief stint in Hartford, Pronger burst onto the scene as a member of the Blues, playing with Al MacInnis (whose No. 2 is already hanging in the Scottrade Center). The two made up one of the most feared defensive combinations in recent NHL history.
Pronger sits seventh all-time in assists for the franchise, and ninth in points. He played nearly 600 regular season games for the Blues and in 2000, became the only defenseman since Bobby Orr to win the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The late Pavol Demitra is also a fine candidate. If his number is not retired, it will likely be honored in some other way in St. Louis.
Martin St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier both have chances to be the first Bolts to have their numbers retired, but St. Louis seems to hold the edge in the race.
Marty is five years older than Lecavalier, and while he trails No. 4 in total points as a member of the Lightning, St. Louis is nearly a point-per-game player and is universally liked in the community and around the league. Lecavalier has played 136 more games than St. Louis and has occasionally been scrutinized by the media.
St. Louis may be undersized, but his big contributions and role in establishing Tampa Bay as a franchise make him an obvious choice to be honored in the Sunshine State.
There is no shortage of options for Toronto’s next retired number, primarily because the franchise has typically chosen to “honor” jersey numbers instead of retiring them. Only Ace Bailey’s No. 6 and Bill Barilko’s No. 5 have been officially enshrined by the Leafs.
Thus it is unlikely that Toronto will be retiring numbers anytime soon, but if the organization had a change of heart, they might begin with the franchise’s all-time scoring leader, Mats Sundin.
Sundin’s 420 goals and 987 points are both franchise records, and those are Toronto Maple Leafs franchise records, not an easy task at all.
Besides, Sundin wore unlucky No. 13. Few players would want to wear that number again, so why not just retire it?
The Vancouver Canucks have seen their franchise become centered around the Sedin twins for the past 11 seasons and counting, so there is no doubt that these outstanding siblings will get matching honors when their matching careers come to a matching close.
Henrik is, statistically, the more impressive of the two. He currently has 29 more points than Daniel and has stayed healthy for 23 more games, giving him the edge in this sibling rivalry (if one actually existed, which it does not).
Henrik also has a Hart Memorial Trophy, which Daniel does not. Not to mention that Henrik is the team's captain.
But let's face it. When these two retire, their numbers are being retired in the same building, at the same ceremony. And Daniel’s name comes first in alphabetical order. So at the ceremony, Henrik should have to wait six minutes before his No. 33 is also retired, to balance out the six minute age difference between the pair.
Olie the Goalie was the face of the Washington Capitals before Alexander Ovechkin.
The German netminder played parts of 15 seasons with the Caps, functioning as the starting netminder for 10 of them. In those 10 seasons, Kolzig only had two years with a save percentage under .900% and two years with a goals-against-average over 3.00. He recorded 35 shutouts with the Caps.
He played in 63 or more games seven different times and holds almost every franchise goaltending record. Though Washington never won a Cup, Kolzig’s career playoff numbers are 2.14 GAA and .927 SV%.
How Kolzig is yet to be honored while Dale Hunter and Rod Langway stare at their banners in the Verizon Center is a tad mind-boggling. Hopefully it is only a matter of time.
Winnipeg’s NHL resurrection is only a year old, far too soon to be making any predictions about who will become the next hockey legend in the loudest building in the league.
But the opportunity to move a franchise back to Winnipeg arose only because of Atlanta’s lack of interest in the sport.
Common sense would dictate that a city as large as Atlanta should be able to fill the seats at any sporting event, but the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets can attest to the fact that hockey in Atlanta simply does not work.
The people of Atlanta may not have been fans of the Thrashers, but the people of Winnipeg certainly are fans of the apathy of Georgians everywhere.