Friday, January 21, 2011

Retire Player Numbers?

Bill Hunt doesn't pull any punches in his piece in Friday's edition of the Daily Gleaner.  Specifically, Hunt argues that former V-Reds forward Rob Hennigar, who up until recently was the all-time leading scorer in the regular season for the Varsity Reds, deserves to have his old #11 retired by the team.  He also calls for former CFL player, the late Tony Proudfoot's #24 to be retired (by all sports teams?).

It makes for an interesting debate.  We can certainly appreciate the desire to see recognition given where it's due.  What do you guys think?  What should the criteria be for "retiring" a player's number?  Is that sufficient recognition, or perhaps a little over the top?  Would Hennigar's #11 even have been available if UNB hockey teams of the past retired numbers with cause?  Who's number would you like to see hanging from the rafters?  Let us know in the comments section.


David Kilfoil said...

Bill and I have been back and forth on this for years.

Personally, I'm not in a rush to retire numbers - I'd rather see numbers "honoured", like some teams do. As a start, perhaps put up a poster(s) on the concourse with numbers and key players who have worn them. How many great players in the history of UNB hockey have worn #7 in addition to Hunter Tremblay? #11 in addition to Hennigar?

My concern is that if you retire number 11 for Hennigar, you might be overlooking other good players, in their time, who also wore that number.

I agree with Kevin Dickie that the All-Decade Teams are a step towards honouring players and numbers, and I'm chairing that committee so I have a vested interest in seeing that process progress. One thing we haven't done, and I need Eric and Ernie's help for, is identifying with the All-Decade honorees what numbers they wore.

Mark Jeffrey's case was special. I'd sooner see the late Mike Cavanagh's #6 retired before Hennigar. I don't even know what number Pete Kelly wore, but he had a bigger impact on the UNB hockey program than Rob Hennigar.

I'll stop now. Don't want to write an essay ...

Ken Critchley said...

As I mentioned to someone else this morning, I'm personally not a big fan of outright retiring the jerseys, except for extremely exceptional conditions, like Mark Jeffrey/Lou Chabot.

I'd prefer to memorialize the numbers somehow. Perhaps hang a Hennigar jersey without removing #11 from eligible numbers. Or why not rename the numbered sections after players? What difference is it if you sit in section 9 or the "Daryl Rivers" section for example?

Lots of things you can do that are equally meaningful.

Steven C. said...

This discussion came up on the HFBoards, my suggestion was to "retire" the number for the number of years the player played with the team, put it behind glass out front, or in the rafters for that period of time.

David Kilfoil said...

Not related to this discussion, but just talked to the V-Reds office. SMU's bus left Halifax at 11:00 am and there is no weather issues in Nova Scotia, so the game is "99% sure" to go on tonight.

Anonymous said...

i think retiring jerseys is foolish except for mark and lous

Eric said...

I'd like to see Mike's number retired. It's unofficially retired as the staff wont let a player take #6. Even Jeff Andrews switch from #6 to #26 in recognition of Mike's passing.

I think you can honour someone without having to retire their number. The AUC has a lot of blank walls.

Ken Critchley said...

It can be a slippery slope - you could make arguments to retire a lot of numbers in recent years, Tremblay, Hennigar, Friesen, Dickson, etc...or from the 90's - Dax MacLean, Todd Sparks, Daryl Rivers, Ken Carroll, just to name a few of my favs.

That's a lot of good hockey numbers off the eligibility list. I don't know you you could just pick 1 or 2 based on individual success when so much of the individual's success has to do with factors such as strength of team, linemates, league, etc.

Many sports halls of fame go through similar struggles - it gets pretty hard to exclude someone without completely disrespecting them and raising questions about those already in the hall. Maybe avoiding the issues and finding other, less contentious ways of paying respect is more appropriate.

Bill Hunt said...

Perhaps "recognize" is a better word. Retiring the number for the cycle of an athletic career is a good idea. Put the number on the ring around the Aitken Centre where advertising is now -- put the ads on the video screens on a loop.
Those would be ideal spots to honour numbers -- and you would have lots of room to do so.

Bill Hunt said...

I've been a bit of a champion for Hennigar's cause for a number of reasons: he led the team in scoring in each of the four years he was here. He won the BLG Award, gold and silver medals at CIS...this is the golden age of UNB hockey and he had a lot to do with ushering it in. Others are following in his footsteps.
He'll marry a local girl, they'll settle here, raise their kids here and he'll probably give back to the program and the community once professional hockey dries up. He never represented the university without class and dignity, never embarrassed the institution in any way.
Retiring or honouring his number -- and if you want to list the others who wore number 11 before him in smaller print on the banner, that's fine too -- seems like a small token of appreciation.
And please don't give me the line about "limited budget, only so many sweaters, etc." UNB has changed that uniform more often in recent years than the Vancouver effing Canucks.
No doubt there are others who made significant contributions in the history of the program: Pete Kelly is one. He could be saluted with a banner of some description. Ted Bedard the same. But the program never achieved the excellence and never the consistent excellence, that it has enjoyed over the last 10-15 years.
There are probably 25 of those backlit signs around the arena. Some of those panels could be for coaches. For instance, how will we commemorate Gardiner MacDougall's legacy when he leaves or retires? There's currently no vehicle for doing so other than a merit award to a deserving player.
Gardiner and his teams have achieved something the whole community should be proud of, and yet there's nowhere you can point and tell people and say..."Rob Hennigar...I knew him...great playmaker" or "Darryl know what...he started out here...great shot, hard worker..."
I also think a "Ring of Honour" contributes to the atmosphere in the arena. One of MacDougall's aims in hanging all the banners was to help to contribute to the intimidating atmosphere of the Aitken Centre when visiting teams come in. A Ring of Honour adds to that history and that legacy and that atmosphere when teams come to the rink two hours early and sit in the stands and gather their thoughts and think about the game's a small thing, perhaps, but it adds to the aura of the arena.

PK said...

I agree with Killer, a number of uniforms I would consider before Hennigar's.

Let's recognize the greats and keep sweaters on the player's backs.

I still have a hard time dealing with all the 40+ numbers on hockey jerseys, the purist in me coming out!

UNB Bruins Fan said...

I like the idea of having a "Ring of Honour" where the advertising is now (or along the concourse) but why not put all of the All-Decade Teams up there...there should be enough room and by having hundreds of people voting on them you avoid having any one person or small committee making tough/controversial decisions. Heck, why we're at it maybe have somewhere along the concourse where some of the greatest UNB teams of all time, greatest coaches, and former UNB players who also played in the NHL could be recognized. Maybe even some kind of timeline that shows the program's progression through the years. Anything that contributes to showing the history of hockey at UNB I am in favour of.

Anonymous said...

Add to Rob's achievments - the World University Games Gold Medalist. He was tied for 1st in overall points in the tournament and scored 2 of the 3 goals in the championship game aginst Russia.