After a little bit of confusion and some necessary communication, Evander Kane will in fact wear his #9 when the Jets open their season against the Montreal Canadiens. Of course, the uncertainty stemmed from the Thrashers moving to Winnipeg and taking on the old Jets moniker. It’s unchartered territory for a franchise to move to a city and take on a new identity—an identity that’s history was shipped to Phoenix in the 1990s. The Coyotes currently have Bobby Hull’s, Thomas Steen’s, and Dale Hawerchuk’s numbers retired. But those were all Winnipeg Jets players who retired their numbers—so it’s a little awkward when there’s a new team called the Winnipeg Jets and players who are wearing the retired numbers.
Evander Kane – a player who has worn #9 throughout his career – has treated the entire situation with class. Instead of simply assuming that he’d be able to wear the number because he’s worn it in the past, he asked the team and confirmed with Hull himself that it would be acceptable for him to continue wearing the number he’s grown up with. It’s not an instance where a young player is disrespecting the past; he understands the importance of Bobby Hull to the Winnipeg area:
“”Bobby was an outstanding player who represented the city and it’s definitely a real honour to be able to wear that number. You know, I was just checking about what the organization’s plans were for No. 9 and then this story seemed to become a lot bigger than I thought it would.”
“And I did get the feeling from a lot of people on Twitter and others that many were encouraging me to wear it.
“I’m pretty excited just to see a jersey let alone to pull one on,” Kane added with a chuckle. “It’s going to be fun for all the guys that first day in the dressing room pulling on that jersey for the first time. That opening night against the Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 9)… it’s a little bit away still, but it’s hard not to think about it. It’s going to be a real special moment in which history will be made. I can’t wait.”
Teammate Bryan Little had a similar dilemma with the #10 jersey that he wore in Atlanta. Moving to Winnipeg, he would now be wearing Dale Hawerchuk’s retired jersey. For Little, the decision was to simply change jerseys—he’ll be rocking the #18 next season. The organization told him he could do has he pleased and chose to switch numbers and avoid any potential problems.
Just because Kane went a different route doesn’t necessarily mean he made the wrong decision. The most important point was for Kane was to be respectful throughout the entire process. If he came in and acted like he was going to wear any number he wanted, it wouldn’t have mattered if Hull gave his blessing. Since Kane showed the proper respect for one of the games greats, he’s scored points with young and old fans alike.
To recap: Dale Hawerchuk’s #10 has been de facto retired by Bryan Little. Bobby Hull has told the organization that Evander Kane can wear #9. Thankfully no one on the roster wears #25 or we’d be talking to Thomas Steen to get his opinion on the matter.
Then again, they could just trade with the St. Louis Blues for Alex Steen and the whole situation would be much less awkward.