Hasek Should be Honored as a Saber, Not a Wing

James AndersenContributor IJune 10, 2008

Now that Dominik Hasek has seemingly retired and Chris Osgood has taken over as Detroit’s top goaltender, fans can finally remember and honor one of the greatest goalies in the NHL.


Since his second retirement on Monday, Hasek has been widely praised.


He’s been called a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer and is said to comprise one-third of the tri-fecta of the best goalies of his generation in addition to Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy.


Despite his last few rocky years in the league, Hasek will take his place in hockey history as a great player.


There was a suggestion made that perhaps the Red Wings should retire Hasek’s No. 39 on the grounds that he’s the second best goalie in the history of the organization behind Terry Shawchuk.


It’s a well-intentioned argument, but some are not buying it.


If anyone should retire “The Dominator’s” number, it’s the Buffalo Sabres, not the Red Wings.


Hasek arrived to Detroit in 2001, as a heralded star and was the first of three superstars the Wings would acquire that year on their way to the 2002 Stanley Cup.


It was great to see Dom finally win a Cup and it seemed his career was complete— he must have thought, so, too, because he retired soon after that.


If he’d stayed retired, Hasek would have ended his career not only as a champion, but as a loaner goalie.


The Wings gave up one of their best scorers in Slava Kozlov to get Hasek and if he’d only played one season in Detroit, he would have been no different than the other veteran players the Wings brought in for short-term deals from 1998 to 2002.


Loaner players don’t have their numbers retired by teams they play for in only one or two seasons.


Instead Hasek was there four seasons, but played only three of them.


He played great there and really lived up to his billing, but didn’t make his mark.


Hasek’s legend was made in Buffalo, where he won six Vezina trophies, an Olympic gold and became “The Dominator.”


That said, there’s a reason why the Wings only have six numbers up in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena.


Those players:

·         Gordie Howe;

·         Ted Lindsay;

·         Shawchuk;

·         Sid Abel;

·         Alex Delvecchio;

·         Steve Yzerman.


*All are the epitome of what it means to be a Detroit Red Wing. Hasek is not.  


This suggestion brings some interesting questions regarding players who have their numbers retired.


In today’s world of the salary cap and free agency, it seems that very seldom do players remain with one team their entire career.


If a player splits his career between two or three teams, which team retires the number?


What if cases like Hasek’s?


Should teams really retire a player’s number if he spends one or two seasons with them?


All these questions have produced interesting scenarios around the league as teams have retired players’ numbers. 


Hall of Fame defenseman, Ray Bourque, spent almost his entire career with the Boston Bruins. Yet, in his final seasons, in an effort to win a Stanley Cup, Bourque signed with the Colorado Avalanche.


When the Avalanche won the Cup in 2001, Bourque’s No. 77 was retired by both the Bruins and Avalanche, despite the fact that Bourque, only played one full season and 94 total games in Colorado.


As an almost lifelong Bruin, it doesn’t seem right that both teams retired Bourque’s number.


In the eyes of many fans, he’s a Bruin not an Av.


A better example of two teams retiring a player’s number is Mark Messier.


He spent many solid years in Edmonton winning Stanley Cups with the likes of Wayne Gretzky.


After that he moved on to the New York Rangers and led them to a Cup in 1994-1995.


Since Messier is synonymous with both organizations and spent a good amount of time with both teams, it seems only fair that both teams got to retire his number.


Other players and their numbers:


Gretzky’s No. 99-

The only number to be retired league wide; a fair thing to do, as he is arguably the best player in the history of the game. However, if not for the league-wide retirement, both the Oilers and Los Angeles would have probably retired his number.


It’d be hard to imagine Gretzky’s number being retired only by the Blues or the Rangers.


Al MacInnis-

A defensive stalwart for many years had long stints with both the Blues and the Calgary Flames, where he won a Cup in 1989. Fitting then that the Flames, not the Blues, retired his number.


Paul Coffey-

Another big-time defenseman in his day, played for nine different teams throughout his career.


In the end, the Oilers retired his number even though Coffey won championships in both Edmonton and Pittsburgh.


Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull-

Had their numbers retired, by the Kings and Blues respectively.


Appropriate choices for both guys since Robitaille is the Kings all-time leading scorer and Hull is probably best remembered in St. Louis.


Patrick Roy-

The most winning NHL goaltender, spent a good chunk of his career with Montreal and won a Cup with the Canadiens, but his No. 33 hangs in the rafters of Pepsi Center, not in Montreal.


The future:


With the retirement of player numbers ranging from absurd to extremely logical, here are some players to consider as they will be retiring in the coming years and their numbers might go along with them.


Chris Chelios


Chelios spent the majority of his better days with the Chicago Blackhawks, yet he has become an integral part of the Red Wings defensive core for the past eight years.


When he retires, which team will retire his number?


Chicago seems the logical option, but I’ve got the feeling there will be lobbying for the Red Wings as well.


Mats Sundin


Sundin has over 500 career goals and is the only Swede in NHL history with over 1,000 points.


He spent the early part of his career with the Quebec Nordiques, before moving to Toronto where he’s remained a solid player.


Which team will get the honors?


Jaromir Jagr and Brendan Shanahan


The Rangers’ stars have played with several other teams before getting to the Big Apple.


Jagr helped Mario Lemieux and the Pens to, two Cups and it’s likely that his number will be retired by Pittsburgh.


Shanahan had successful stints with the Blues and Wings, along with a few other minor ones, but he might actually be retired as both a Wing and a Blue.


Mike Modano


The minute he’s done, the Stars will have his No. 9 in the rafters. The same goes for the Ottawa Senators when Daniel Alfredsson is done.


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