Yes The Number 99 Should Be Retired League Wide

I am going to show you a quick video that has stirred up the hockey world:

Oh my goodness gracious, a hockey player wore the beloved number 66, everybody flail your arms in horror!! OR NOT!

Yes, Mario Lemieux is a player worthy to be listed in all the greatest-of-all-time (GOAT) discussions for his play on and off the ice. Remember, he literally saved the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1999! His number is not retired league wide though so this truly should be the end of this discussion, right? Wrong! More than just Penguins fans are up in arms about a hockey player who grew up idolizing Lemieux dawning his jersey number. Even Josh Ho-Sang’s Twitter account has the number 66 in it.

You have your historians who argue that “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe should have his number 9 retired across all of hockey. If there is to be a second number aside from Wayne Gretzky’s number 99, it should be Howe’s with all due respect to other GOAT candidates such as another number 9 in Rocket Richard.This argument then quickly goes to whether or not the number 99 should be retired league wide or just in Edmonton, Los Angeles and New York (let’s pretend St. Louis never happened).

If you want to argue whether or not Oilers management should have put a Garth Brooks banner up in the rafters, that’s fine but denying Gretzky’s impact on hockey is not. If Gretzky would have played his whole career in Edmonton, maybe the league wide argument is valid. Can you argue that the 1988 trade to Los Angeles coinciding with an increase of television coverage simply put Gretzky in the right spot at the right time? Yes. Did he take full advantage of the opportunity? 99% yes, his only shortcoming being he failed to win a Stanley Cup outside of Edmonton.

Wayne Gretzky holds or shares 61 records listed in the League’s Official Guide and Record Book: 40 for the regular season, 15 for the Stanley Cup playoff and six for the All-Star Game.

Some, if not most, of those records will NEVER be broken in today’s NHL. An example would be his 92 goal 1981-82 season. With the end of the 2016-17 regular season being 5 weeks away (April 9th), there are only two (2) NHL players (Connor McDavid and Patrick Kane) with more than 70 points - never-mind just goals. Your current goal leader is Sidney Crosby with 34.

Speaking of Crosby…probably a safe assumption I can cut/copy/paste most of this article for the next brave soul who tries to wear the number 87.

Of course, the only number that truly deserves to retired across a sport is Jackie Robinson’s number 42. That man broke a colour barrier! That is much bigger than any accomplishment any athlete can achieve on their respective playing field.

Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *