On Monday afternoon, the New Jersey Devils announced that they acquired Nikita Gusev from the Vegas Golden Knights. While this is a huge deal and yes the New Jersey Devils are looking a little scary, the bigger announcement came when the Devils tweeted Gusev will be wearing jersey number 97.
Why is this jersey number such a big deal? According to local Edmonton producer and DJ, Dean V., it’s actually disrespectful to Connor McDavid. Vince points out that nobody wore number 66 when Mario Lemieux play and nobody wore number 99 when Wayne Gretzky played.
Connor McDavid, according to Dean, is on that level.
How disrespectful. Nobody wore 99 while Gretz was still playing. Nobody wore 66 when Mario played. Connor is on that level. https://t.co/R9xILcFTSU
— Dean Vince (@deanvince) July 30, 2019
First and foremost, we need to address that this tweet is inaccurate. Players did wear Lemieux and Gretzky’s numbers while they were still playing. Wilf Paiement and Rick Dudley both wore Wayne Gretzky’s #99 in 1981 and Yanick Dupre and Gino Odjick wore Mario Lemiuex’s #66 in 1991 and 1992.
Then, of course, there is the debate of whether McDavid is currently on that Gretzky and Lemieux level. I will leave that one for everyone else to yell about, but we all know the most important part of the Twitter experience…it’s the reactions.
True, Gusev should only be able to wear 97 when McDavid isn’t playing, like in the playoffs. https://t.co/iv1N4Wxcw2
— Andrew Berkshire (@AndrewBerkshire) July 30, 2019
And yet Sidney Crosby just skated by without a single criticism for dishonoring Donald Brashear https://t.co/AFlb5wXiW7
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) July 30, 2019
How disrespectful. Nobody wore 9 while Howe was still playing. Nobody wore 9 when Richard played. Brendan Leipsic is on that level. https://t.co/ZMF0Wnhjcs
— Gritty Hate Machine (@SuicidePass) July 30, 2019
Gretzky was just paying homage to Wilf Paiement. https://t.co/LBP0OElQb3
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) July 30, 2019
— Farmer Tan SZN (@LeBronMaclean) July 30, 2019
On a personal level, I was hoping and praying to high heaven that this was not a real tweet. That the man was joking and he simply wanted to get Twitter mad (one of my favorite activities). But, I do feel like this conversation comes up once every few months and I’m so exhausted by it. To me, when a player has the same number as another player….it is just a number on a sweater. Sure, the number can be memorable, but the player is what makes the real legacy.
On the other hand, I do understand the sentiment to want to go back to retiring the numbers for great players. What do you think about going back to retiring numbers for big players?
Headline photo via @NJDevils
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