With the Thrashers on their way to Winnipeg there are some things from Atlanta that will be making their way to Canada. While many of the people who worked for the team in Atlanta won’t be returning, there’s one memory of the team that many hoped would carry over into their future in Winnipeg.
Dan Snyder was a hopeful up and coming rookie in the Thrashers system back in 2003. That September, Snyder was riding in a car with then Thrashers star Dany Heatley when their car crashed after Heatley was speeding and lost control of the car. Snyder died six days later after falling into a coma and dying from septic shock thanks to the accident.
Ever since then, the Thrashers honored Snyder by not giving out his number 37 to another player and giving out the Dan Snyder Memorial Award to the player that best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed. Winnipeg’s director of hockey operations and communications Scott Brown says that Snyder’s memory will continue to be honored when the team moves. Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press finds out that the ties to Snyder from within Winnipeg’s organization run deep as well.
Worth noting is a connection of sorts with the Manitoba Moose: former Moose Dallas Eakins, a good friend of current Winnipeg assistant GM/director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger, was very close to Snyder.
“Craig was in Atlanta and saw all the things they did for Dan Snyder and we are fully prepared and will be honouring everything to do with him,” said director of hockey operations/communications Scott Brown. “Dan Synder’s friends and family should not worry at all about that.”
As far as retiring his number goes or keeping up with the retired numbers of former Winnipeg greats like Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuk, Brown says the issue of retiring numbers may not come up in Winnipeg.
“Those are questions we have to ask ourselves. Retired numbers become very tricky going forward. For example, Evander Kane is No. 9. I don’t know this, but I imagine Evander Kane would like to continue wearing No. 9 and we would hope that if we decided to let him continue wearing that number Winnipeg hockey fans would be accepting of that and the step forward in the franchise history rather than focussing on keeping Bobby Hull’s No. 9 retired.
“These are all issues we’ve been discussing, believe me.”
The Maple Leafs are a team that honors numbers but doesn’t retire them. For a team like Winnipeg that has a past fresh in the memory and a legacy of the Thrashers coming north to greet them, honoring the past is the best plan of action for them. The old Jets past belongs to the Phoenix Coyotes and with things like Dan Snyder’s memory joining them in Manitoba courtesy of Atlanta it’s the right move to be able to pay respect to all aspects of the past and present in a new-old locale.
Carrying on Snyder’s memory is a wonderful thing for Winnipeg to do, however, and it helps keep awareness up about how precious life is and how it can be taken at a moment’s notice.