Which Numbers to Retire?

Posted March 23, 2009

2377690152_97645678b4Some teams, like the Montreal Canadiens, had so many great players over the years that they’re likely running out of numbers to put on their players because they retired so many. But the Capitals? They’ve got four. Yvon Labre (#7), a hard-nosed defenseman who played during the early days of the Capitals, when they were awful. Rod Langway (#5), a two-time Norris Trophy winning defenseman. Dale Hunter (#32) who provided leadership but on the league stat sheet is mostly known as the guy who is second all-time for penalty minutes. And Mike Gartner (#11), who continued scoring goals at a rapid pace after the Capitals traded him for Dino Ciccarelli.
If these very same players were on other teams, I’d say Gartner and Langway would be the only of the four to hang in the rafters. Incidentally, both Gartner and Langway are in the Hall of Fame, but not Hunter or Labre. (Two other Caps are in the Hall of Fame – Larry Murphy and Scott Stevens, but it’s doubtful the Caps will retire those numbers).Now, the question is, which other numbers will the Capitals be retiring in the future? I can name three:
Maple Leafs Capitals Hockey#37 Olaf Kolzig. The way he left the team in 2008 was certainly a sad way for such a veteran player to go. Up until he jetted off to Tampa Bay, he played his entire career in Washington.
#12 Peter Bondra. The Capitals all-time scoring leader in goals (472) and points (825), now is frequently seen hanging out in the Washington area after stints with Ottawa, Atlanta and Chicago.
#8 Alex Ovechkin. Duh.
Other possibilities, while we’re on the subject: Michal Pivonka, Bengt Gustafsson, Mike Ridley, Calle Johansson, Dennis Maruk, Kevin Hatcher, and Kelly Miller. Okay, maybe not. Here’s who I’m hoping will be good enough, long term, to get their numbers retired: Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green. What do you think?