Olie Kolzig’s retirement (and pending “When should the Caps retire his number?” discussions) got me thinking — just how many players who had the prime of their careers fall in the “Dead Puck Era” (from lockout to lockout is what I’m going with) will have the same honor?
The answer is, possibly surprising, potentially very few. Remember that all retired sweater numbers are not created equal. Some franchises are a little too leniant with which players are bestowed the sport’s highest honor. Some people would argue the Caps are one of those franchises. That said, Kolzig’s No. 37 certainly deserves to hang in the rafters at the Phone Booth. But other organizations are more strict.
So back to the original question: How many guys who were in the prime of their careers from 1995-2005 are going to have a number hanging from an NHL arena?
NOTE: The criteria for guys being in their “prime” was pretty subjective, but guys like Patrick Roy, Brett Hull, Scott Stevens and Brian Leetch aren’t on this list because their true primes came before this period or ended just at the beginning.
THE LOCKS (in no particular order)
Olie Kolzig — Washington
Peter Bondra — Washington
Martin Broduer — New Jersey
Scott Neidermayer — New Jersey
Dominik Hasek — Buffalo
Joe Sakic — Colorado
Peter Forsberg — Colorado
Mike Modano — Dallas
Niklas Lidstrom — Detroit
Mats Sundin — Toronto
THE MAYBE PILE
Sergei Fedorov — Detroit
Jaromir Jagr — Pittsburgh
Sergei Zubov — Dallas
Fedorov probably should be a lock, but the Red Wings take this honor seriously, and Stevie Y and Lidstrom might be it. The other two aren’t really locks, either.
What did this excercise teach us? It is weird to see Washington with two of such a small group, but the Caps were consistent winners during the era. Two takeaways:
1) There were a few dominant teams in the era and few teams who could sustain enough success to have players worthy of this consideration and …
2) This was the first era with real free agency, so there are plenty of big-name stars who likely never stuck in one place long enough to earn “retired number” status.