Is it fair to ask how many star players that you remember in your life that have had their numbers retired due to fame, skill and what they did for not only their team, but also the game.
For the athlete this simply means respect and is an honour for them as well as their Family, but other times the number is retired long after the athlete passes away and means that no other future player can wear this, unless the player allows it to be worn.
Sure we know that the normal number retired years back was #9 for the likes of Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull to name only three.
Reflecting back the first number to be retired in professional sport was Ace Bailey’s #6 in 1934 by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Other teams have retired #12 in honour of their fans or the twelfth man, while the Sacramento Kings and the Orlando Magic retired the number six (6) also in honour of their fans as the sixth man.
In a class act the NHL Vegas Knights retired #58 to both honour and respect the 58 killed in the 2017 shootings in Vegas.
If you reflect back to 1987 it was the Boston Bruins who retired Phil Esposito’s #7, but in a pre game ceremony Bourque wore #7 to the ice, which was his normal jersey.
In a class act he skated over to “Espo” and removed the jersey handing it to him (Esposito) in what was referred to by many as Bourque’s “surrendering” number since breaking into the league.
Underneath that jersey was one that was numbered 77 that Bourque would be known for wearing.
Football’s University of Michigan retired Gerald Ford’s #48, who later went on to be the 38th US President.
The Dallas Cowboys retired Emmitt Smith #22, Troy Aikman’s #8 and Roger Staubachs #12 while Jackie Robinson’s #42 was retired league wide in 1997 as a tribute as for him becoming the first MLB Black Player, but any player that was wearing it at that time could do so until they retired.
The NHL retired Wayne Gretzky’s #99 at the 2000 All-Star game while Willie O’Ree’s #22 has been proposed as going to the rafters as he was the first Black Player to suit up in the NHL January 18,1958.
Willie was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame in November 2018 and the same year the NHL instituted the annual Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award.
Now we are hearing that Black Hawks Patrick Kane will have his number retired by his former OHL team, the London Knights.
Kane moved up in the draft selection from 88 to the #1 pick that also saw him grab the Emms Family Award (OHL’s Rookie of the Year) finishing second to John Tavares in the Red Tilson Trophy MVP voting.
He played one season (200607) with the Knights and managed to notch up 62 goals, 83 assists for a 145- point season. 145-point season.
Kane is only the ninth player in the history of the Knights to have his number retired and will become the first Knight to do so after only one season in London.
His #88 will officially hang in the rafters January 17th when the Knights play host to the Sudbury Wolves, one night before the Blackhawks visit the Leafs in Toronto.
Congratulations to Patrick on this milestone in his career.