I have been seeing some discussion on twitter and other Jets sites about Evander Kane and Bryan Little’s sweater numbers. Kane and Little wear 9 and 10 respectively, which also happen to be two of the most legendary numbers in Jets history, those belonging of course to Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuk. Some Jets fans seem to think it is a personal affront to those players or to the history of the franchise if we let current players wear those numbers. I can’t see why.
The obvious first point is that it’s not the same franchise. The old Jets are in Arizona right now. This franchise is the one that rescued the Thrashers from anonymity. There is a difference. Even so, the sweaters next year will read Jets across the front in some fashion, same as when Hull and Hawerchuk were gliding across the ice. But why fans don’t want to see those numbers anymore is beyond me. Watching the next generation of Jets skate around wearing those sweaters doesn’t destroy the status of previous legends, it enhances it. When a dad takes his kid to the game, he’s not going to say “see son, there’s no one wearing #10 because blah blah blah.” He will say “I remember coming to games and being able to watch Dale Hawerchuk wear #10 just like Bryan Little (or whomever down the road) is now.” Having current players wear those numbers doesn’t destroy tradition, it enhances it.
Of course, I am not saying that these players shouldn’t be honored. There absolutely should be a Hawerchuk and a Hull (and there most definitely are others, those just seem like the only unanimous ones) hanging from the rafters in the MTS Centre. But I want current Jets players to honor the past by wearing those numbers and talking about the players whose numbers they are wearing, not by merely hanging a banner up and then never speaking about them again.
Lastly, a huge tip of the cap to Evander Kane for recognizing this issue and asking Bobby Hull for permission to wear the number. I don’t think he should necessarily have to, but it is a mature decision from a 20 year old who recognizes that he is in a unique spot.