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Former Winnipeg Jets Legacy Still With Phoenix Coyotes

Dale Hawerchuk's #10 is in the rafters of Jobing.com Arena these days, as a part of the Coyotes history not the new Jets.
Dale Hawerchuk's #10 is in the rafters of Jobing.com Arena these days, as a part of the Coyotes history not the new Jets.Mike Powell/Getty Images
Matt EichelSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2011

Friday morning, Ed Tait wrote a very thorough and enlightening piece on the history of our newly returned Winnipeg Jets.

Though our Jets are back, the history will yet remain with the Phoenix Coyotes. They still have the banners that hang from the rafters with the retired numbers. Bobby Hull's No. 9, Thomas Steen's No. 25 and Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10.

Yet all three of those players never donned a Coyote jersey, never once were a part of hockey in the desert, and yet their numbers hang from the rafters in Coyote colours.

That's not a picture most Jets fans would consider tasteful or even fair for that matter. But life isn't fair apparently.

Still, that doesn't mean the new Jets cannot commemorate and honour a past that happened in Winnipeg yet will not be a part of the new Jets legacy.

From records to who the first captain was, that all stays with the Coyotes in Phoenix. The Coyotes give their fans the stats of what was once Jets fans over 15 years ago.

Teemu Selanne's rookie scoring record, Hawerchuk's franchise point total, and three Avco Cups are all in Phoenix and will not return to Winnipeg as per the NHL's edict.

So with the likes of Evander Kane and Bryan Little, who have previously worn retired numbers of two of the most high profile Jets of all-time, there is nothing slated to retiring those numbers at any point.

When Ed Tait was interviewing Thomas Steen, he remarked that "It's like the Toronto Maple Leafs: they honour their numbers, but they're still using them, too. I know the history of the Leafs is a little longer than the Jets. But if you started retiring all those numbers, you'd run into problems.

"Imagine if all the Jets' players 100 years from now—WHEN this team is still around—were all wearing numbers over 100? Now that would be strange."

A new tradition has started in Winnipeg and all the history of that tradition started when the Thrashers were born in Atlanta. Our past stars are a short list of Ilya Kovalchuk, Marian Hossa, Marc Savard and Dany Heatley not Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk, Teemu Selanne and Keith Tkachuk.

Tait raised an interesting and bizarre point of what if the Coyotes were to finally be sold and moved to the next best available market in Quebec City. What happens then? Selanne is a hero in Quebec City with his rookie record?

Not likely.

But there's nothing wrong with any rule against honouring those players who made an impact in Winnipeg hockey for the betterment of the city's reputation. Or the Jets reputation, for that matter.

And that of Mike Keane, who's No. 12 was raised to the rafters, what becomes of that? A player who spent his final five professional seasons with the AHL's Manitoba Moose.

Only time will tell.

And only time will bring about this new tradition—Winnipeg Jets style.

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