Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Unfit for the rafters?

Adam Graves is a wonderful person and deserves every accolade he receives, but aren’t the New York Rangers getting a little carried away when the recent announcement that they plan to retire the No. 9 sweater worn by Graves sometime during the 2008-09 season? Sure, he was a 50-goal scorer, a Stanley Cup winner and a stand-up guy in the community, but sweater retirements should be rare occurrences and left for players headed to the Hall of Fame ...

No, I don't think so. And the best example I can think of a guy who had his jersey retired who isn't getting anywhere near the Hall is Ken Daneyko, the stay-at-home defenceman who played his entire, 1,283-game career for the Devils.

Sometimes being the fabric of an organization doesn't have anything to do with goals and assists.

And while I can't speak to how Graves fits into that spot with the Rangers, this is a franchise that has been around since 1926 and only retired five other numbers: Rod Gilbert, Ed Giacomin, Mike Richter, Mark Messier and Brian Leetch.

The Montreal Canadiens they ain't. (The Habs have 13 retired numbers.)
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33 Comments:

At 11:08 PM, February 12, 2008, Blogger Sean said...

"Sometimes being the fabric of an organization doesn't have anything to do with goals and assists."

James, where would you stand on Wendel Clark's #17 being honored by the Leafs?

On the one hand, you'd have to stretch quite a bit to even argue for him as a HOF player. On the other hand, he certainly meets your criteria above.

It's a moot point since the Leafs don't actually retire jerseys, only "honor" them and keep them in circulation. Oddly enough, though, in all the years after (and even between) Clark's three Toronto stints, nobody else has been given his number.

It would actually be jarring to see anyone else wearing it at this point.

 
At 11:23 PM, February 12, 2008, OpenID jimwhite81 said...

Rangers want to put the whole 94 roster in the rafters

 
At 11:49 PM, February 12, 2008, Blogger James said...

we could do with the entire 94 team being on the ice at the minute

 
At 12:09 AM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous dmg said...

I agree with you, James. A number being retied doesn't have as much to do with a player's HOF credentials as it does with their impact on their particular organization - if the fans of a team can't imagine another player in that number, it should be retied. Danyeko is a perfect example of this.

 
At 1:30 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger yeahuh said...

Some Ranger fans agree and disagree on this topic, but this is likely the last Ranger to have their number retired for a good 20 years, so it's nothing to question given their current retirees.

 
At 1:48 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger young d said...

Great points.

The Hall of Fame is certainly a good reason to honour a player with a retired jersey but should not be the only determinant.
Your example of Ken Daneyko, a stalwart, loyal and longtime member of a Stanley Cup winning team - who doesn't score a heck of a lot of goals - is a great example. To Jersey fans, he has been a huge part of the team.

This brings me back to Colorado retiring Ray Bourque's number and makes me angry again.
Bourque WAS a Hall of Famer and did tag along for a rental role in a Stanley Cup in Denver, but is not an Avalanche player.
That was frivolous.

 
At 2:41 AM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Hawerchuk said...

Another good example: Yvon Labre. 334 games with the Capitals, 12 goals, 84 assists. But he was the captain and I guess he never gave up during those dark days when the Caps were so bad. (They maxed out at 70 points his last season. They never finished better than fourth in their division.)

 
At 6:39 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger mike said...

Adam Graves was a great Ranger who left his mark in the team record books as well as in the hearts of the team's fans. Both on and off the ice, Graves was an ambassador for the game of hockey--his charitable nature led him to create a program for NYC youth that is still active (Toys for Tots, where fans donate toys for underprivileged children around the holidays).

He learned how to score in NY also, and held the team goal-scoring record for ten years until Jagr broke it...he stood up for his teammates and generally played the game the way it's supposed to be played. Penguins fans may dispute that of course.

It's not as if the Rangers proposed someone like Bobby Nystrom to have his number retired. Graves was an outstanding forward for a five-year stretch for the Rangers.

 
At 8:28 AM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is that any more absurd than the Phoenix Coyotes putting Dale Hawerchuk's number into their ring of honour?

 
At 10:08 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger sager said...

Wait.... the Coyotes have a ring of honour?

 
At 10:13 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

I think it's ridiculous too, but most of the Rangers fans I've talked to love the guy and the idea of retiring his jersey.

 
At 10:38 AM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only a Ranger fan would say something as stupid as Adam Graves created "Toys for Tots" which is a US Marine Corp charity and then say Bobby Nystrom shouldn't have his number retired by the Islanders when he was a career heart and soul Islander, scored their first Cup winner and is still part of the community on Long Island not a five year Oiler rental.

Graves deserves the honor since he was a pretty good player and is a great human being, but what is embarrasing is that Andy Bathgate the greatest Ranger to not play on the only Dolan team to win anything does not have his number retired. Seems 1994 is the only year in Ranger history.

 
At 11:05 AM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the history of the club, as you mentioned, isn't it odd that 60% (and with Graves, it will soon to be a higher percentage) of the retired numbers are from players who have retired over the last ten years.

Not to discredit Richter, Messier, Leetch or Graves and their obvious contributions to the Blueshirts. But with such a history, one must assume there are other players in the past, equally deserving of such an honour who have now been forgotten.

That's the real shame in all of this.

 
At 11:13 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger mike said...

Only an Islander fan would call another person stupid when discussing charitable organizations. Since being pedantic is the rule of thumb I guess I should have mentioned that Graves was a driving force in establishing the contacts between the charity and the NY Rangers.

Bobby Nystrom's number is retired because the Isles are a pathetic organization devoted to glorifying an unrepeatable past. No OT goal against the Flyers in 1980, no retired jersey. The man was no better than an average player.

 
At 11:14 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger Chemmy said...

The Rangers have more retired jerseys than Cup banners, I wouldn't assume they have a deep history.

 
At 11:23 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger mike said...

Chemmy--same goes for the Islanders, and I'd imagine that statement is true of 90% of the league.

 
At 11:28 AM, February 13, 2008, Blogger Chase said...

remember when he purposely broke mario's wrist? what a class act.

 
At 12:05 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nystrom was an original Islander who played 900 games & had 513 points (7 x 20 goal seasons), usually playing the 2nd or 3rd line.

Graves played 772 games for the NYR & had 507 points, often on the first line.

Not that different, really.

Andy Bathgate definitely should have his NYR number retired.... one of the best 3-4 NYR's ever.

 
At 12:25 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Still a poor analogy to compare Graves as worthy and Nystrom not considering their career stats in different eras. Neither is HHOF worthy, but both deserve to be recognized by their organizations for the contribution that they made to their respective teams. Only an insecure Ranger fan would have to inject the Islanders into an argument as to whether Graves is worthy of being recognized by the Rangers or not.

Graves helped to break a 54 year curse and Nystrom set up and was an integral part of 19 straight playoff series victories. A feat which is unrepeatable and therefore more worthy of praise. New England could give you a lesson on how hard it is to win 19 of anything in a row.

Bathgate, Howell and Ratelle are still the best Rangers not to have their numbers retired. What is pathetic is that a team can only recognize a single season to generate revenue from the bandwagon fans minted that season than to recognize its entire history.

PS
Pedantics aside, the messenger was stupid, not the charity.

 
At 12:33 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can see Hawerchuk being represented in the desert since it is still the same organization. I think its a shame that Stastny isn't recognized in Colorado, but Bourque is (and that is no slight to Bourque).

I actually think the Leafs do it right (never thought I'd type that statement) and honour the number by raising it to the rafters and then let someone else wear it. Soon the Habs will have to go to triple digits if they honoured as many players as they should.

All time strangest must be Jim McKenzie's 19 of the Whalers.

 
At 12:51 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous treved said...

Another perfect example is Trevor Linden. You know his #16 will be retired immediately in Vancouver, but if he ever gets a HOF vote, there's something terribly wrong going on.

Then again, he was the face of the franchise for almost 20 years. I don't think you can say the same for Graves.

 
At 12:53 PM, February 13, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

I'm a long-time Rangers season ticket holder, and there are two obvious reasons why the "core" of the 94 team are being honored by the Rangers.

First - they were the leadership and key integral components on a team that told an amazing story to the Rangers fan (much less the rest of the Hockey World) - they ended 54 years of Stanley Cup futility. The 94 team will continue, for the foreseeable future, be a special team for the Rangers fans. Trust me, the Rangers fans who follow the team know a lot about its history - there are 18,000 people chanting Eddie Giacomin's name whenever he's involved with something. But we all know that the more time passes, the less people will have that direct connection to those players.

Second - MSG knows that these games bring attention and revenue. For the Leetch retirement, they sold thousands of seats to an adjacent theater just so fans who couldnt get tickets could watch. Thousands of people paid $30 a pop for a special Leetch night program. It made an otherwise unmemorable midseason game against Atlanta a "must see experience".

One other comment:

People from Pittsburgh and outside the NY area can be as dumb as they want about one debatable slash, but if anyone looks into Adam Graves personal efforts to make a difference in the lives of people and the communities he plays in, they will see he is exactly the type of player we SHOULD be honoring.

 
At 1:17 PM, February 13, 2008, Blogger mike said...

I mentioned Nystrom's number being retired to underscore the fact that with "heart and soul" guys their worth is most special to the fans.

To be fair, Nystrom's mustache was the only part of his game that was worthy of being retired by his former franchise.

 
At 2:01 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adam Graves is a wonderful person and deserves every accolade he receives -- doesn't the first sentence of this article kind of negate everything else that is said?

Vachon in LA is another example of a guy whose number is retired but not in the Hall.

 
At 2:39 PM, February 13, 2008, Blogger Bruce said...

Andy Bathgate definitely should have his NYR number retired

That would be the same #9 that "belongs" to Adam Graves. Maybe a classy move would be to honour both at once, as Montreal did with #12 (Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore) or as Toronto more indirectly did when they recognized no fewer than six pairs of players who wore the same number (1, 4, 7, 9, 10, and 27). Having seen Andy Bathgate when he was the captain and star player of the Rangers, I am frankly astonished that his number wasn't retired; and with due respect to Adam Graves (who is a personal favourite and a class act), that he should get Bathgate's number but nobody should get his suggests the standards have been considerably loosened.

All time strangest must be Jim McKenzie's 19 of the Whalers.

That would be Johnnie McKenzie, whose number was retiured by the Hartford Whalers of the NHL but who never played for them. He did play with the New England Whalers in the WHA where he was a fairly minor contributor, and his popularity was due to his previous association with the neighbouring Bruins whose noses the Whalers were always trying to tweak. The retirement of his number was inappropriate on many levels in my view.

Perhaps the strangest of all retirements would be #1 for Minnesota Wild, which was retired way back Oct. 12, 2000 in honour of Wild fans, who were no doubt attending their first game. Now that's weird.

 
At 2:52 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Got my J McKenzie's confused, memory isn't what it used to be, but I trust Wikipedia even less.

Dual Bathgate/Graves night would be classy like Bourque turning his 7 over to Esposito.

 
At 4:31 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Paul said...

By my count there are 25 similarly undeserving players with retired numbers. Buffalo, Dallas and St. Louis lead the way with three apiece. Strange that this is considered a problem only now.

By the way, am I the only person who thinks there's something wrong with the Habs retiring Bob Gainey's 23? Not that he doesn't merit the honour, it just seems like a conflict of interest him being the GM and all.

 
At 4:37 PM, February 13, 2008, Blogger poploser said...

Bruce said:

That would be the same #9 that "belongs" to Adam Graves. Maybe a classy move would be to honour both at once...Having seen Andy Bathgate when he was the captain and star player of the Rangers, I am frankly astonished that his number wasn't retired; and with due respect to Adam Graves (who is a personal favourite and a class act), that he should get Bathgate's number but nobody should get his suggests the standards have been considerably loosened.

I would be VERY surprised if Graves didn't go out of his way to recognize Bathgate. I do not think the Rangers organization will do it, however. Again, the NYR brass is treating the key members of the 94 team at a different level than prior players...Many of whom were "great" Rangers...but none of whom ended "The Curse."

Paul said:

By the way, am I the only person who thinks there's something wrong with the Habs retiring Bob Gainey's 23? Not that he doesn't merit the honour, it just seems like a conflict of interest him being the GM and all.

Is this serious? What could the conflict be? That he will not act in the best interests of an organization that honored him?

 
At 4:59 PM, February 13, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No jerseys should be retired, period.

I can't stand the sight of Montreal players skating around with stupid numbers like 71 or 74 on their backs because ALL the good traditional numbers are gone.

Seriously, these guys are retiring a jersey per year.

There is a LOT of hockey to be played, boys. Years and years. What happens if you retire all the jerseys, then what? And then you get the 2108 version of Crosby come along and have a legendary career? "Well, we retired 47 numbers already...what's one more?"

It has to stop sometime, so why not now?

I love the Leafs' policy of only honouring the jerseys. That way you can still see great numbers on the ice.

However, I do NOT like the policy of any old player grabbing great numbers like 1, 7, 9, 14, etc. when they haven't even proven they can play in the league yet.

Certain numbers should be out of reach unless you're a tenured player with credentials. Otherwise, take the "rookie" number.

And if you're good enough, you'll be "honoured" someday...but those jersey numbers will always be ready for the next hero to take the torch.

 
At 6:47 PM, February 13, 2008, Blogger Steve said...

Is this serious? What could the conflict be? That he will not act in the best interests of an organization that honored him?

Other direction. As a person, he has an interest in seeing himself honoured (no longer how humble he is; we all have an interest in self-advancement). As GM, he's responsible for protecting the team's interest, which includes honouring the worthy and not honouring the unworthy. Those interests could certainly conflict on the question of whether Bob Gainey's number should be retired. If he deserves to have his number retired, then those interests don't conflict; but the person making the decision about whether the number should be retired shouldn't have any other interest than the team's in the matter.

I have no thoughts on whether or not his number should be retired, and I assume that Bob Gainey's not the one who made the call (the conflict could extend to anybody subordinate to him, though). I just thought I'd elaborate on where the conflict of interest existed, because in this case there really would be one (unlike in about half of cases where people shout "conflict of interest," when what they mean is "bias").

 
At 12:31 PM, February 14, 2008, Anonymous Vin said...

Larry Brooks of the NY Post has been lobbying for a joint retirement of Graves and Bathgate - which is only right. Graves actually played a game as #11, as tribute to his hero, who claimed the number once he became a Ranger. Graves still is the greatest received Ranger, as evidenced by his reception at Messier, Leetch, and Richter retirements...his ovation was louder than theirs! Graves had an exceptional Ranger career, beyond goals, as Mirlte stated in his post. I think the Rangers will not retire any more jerseys from 94 Rangers, and that the only other Ranger that should have his number retired after Graves/Bathgate is Ron Greschner....discuss

 
At 3:16 PM, February 14, 2008, Blogger Justin said...

Let's all be perfectly honest. If anyone can watch the video of Brian Leetch surprising Adam Graves with the announcement that the Rangers would be retiring his number and, after having seen the look on Graves face, can honestly say that he does not deserve to have his number retired...that's just cold hearted.

 
At 12:09 PM, February 15, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been to Richter, Messier and Leetch night. I will also be at Graves night next season and can guarantee you it is bigger then the previous 3. Richter night the loudest chant in the building was "SIGN HIM" when Graves was announced and he had not officially announced his retirement. As said above all 3 nights the loudest reactions were when Graves arrived. I will say when I heard the announcement that night I was shocked! But, pleasantly surprised. The 4 guys who brought the cup back to NY will live on as Rangers forever. As mentioned above this will be the last one for a long time.

Bringing up players of the past like Bathgate is a waste of time to me. The organization missed their chances to do it. They are moving forward and a ceremony for many of the argued past greats would fall short on a fan base that is out fo touch with most of those players.

Graves will give his respects, count on it! The guy is one of the biggest class acts you will ever find around hockey.

 

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