The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/11/11 at 07:53 PM ET
From a wistful observer’s perspective, it’s been nothing less than fascinating to watch the NHL’s return to Winnipeg play out as its as-yet-unnamed NHL franchise’s fans and media scribes ask 15 years of questions in one fell swoop.
As the team’s fans and scribes ponder whether the franchise should stick with the Jets moniker or start afresh, you wouldn’t necessarily expect to read a column suggesting that you can learn everything about the Jets name’s resonance to the city via, according to the Winnipeg Free Press’s Tom Oleson, hearing about the methods the winner of the Queen of Winnipeg’s Exotic Dancers contest used to earn her title, but that’s Winnipeg for you (not the nudity part), but hey, it’s been a long time, and it’s hard to explain to people who haven’t spent time in the “Green Bay of the NHL” how absolutely central the NHL team was and will be to the city’s identity and sense of pride, regardless of its name.
That being said, as the Phoenix Coyotes technically are the Jets and remain the holders of the team’s franchise records and retired numbers, you might wonder how the team plans on handling the fact that there are some no-goes in terms of Atlanta-related tradition-breaking. According to the Winnipeg Free Press’s Ed Tait, via Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon, the Winnipeg team will continue to honor Dan Snyder’s memory…
While the Winnipeg organization isn’t sure yet how that legacy will continue, Snyder will be honoured in some way. The Thrashers named an annual award after him—the Dan Snyder Memorial Award—which was given to the player that ‘best embodies perseverance, dedication, and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.’
The Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers’ AHL affiliate, awarded annually the Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award and hung his number in the rafters of their arena. As well, the Ontario Hockey League renamed its humanitarian of the year award the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy.
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.”
They’re not sure what to do numerically speaking:
“We’re a little tentative about retired numbers,” Brown said. “Dan Snyder’s number (37) was retired in Atlanta, but what if we bring in a free agent who wants to wear No. 37? And then we get into the retired numbers of Winnipeg Jets.
“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.”
I’m not allowed to comment on the fact that ticket-selling expert Jon Spoelstra told the Free Press’s Geoff Kirbyson that having a 15,000-seat rink is perfect for Winnipeg when there are thousands and thousands of fans who won’t be able to watch a single game in person because the franchise’s tickets were gobbled up by Moose season ticket-holders and scalpers…
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.