There never should have been any doubt here. Evander Kane will wear number nine for the new Winnipeg Jets. Of course, there was some controversy surrounding the fact that Bobby Hull wore number nine for the original Winnipeg Jets and the team retired that number in his honour.
But these aren’t your daddy’s Winnipeg Jets.
No, really, they’re not.
As we mentioned before, giving the team the same name as the original Winnipeg franchise created some problems in regards to honouring team histories and such. It shouldn’t have, but it did. The people of Winnipeg missed hockey and they wanted “their Jets” back. For a while it actually seemed like the original Jets would come back, but negotiations to move the Phoenix Coyotes back to Canada fell through and it was the Atlanta Thrashers that moved instead. But the love of the Jets name was still there, so True North Sports and Entertainment caved and called the new team the “Winnipeg Jets” as well and the doors to controversy were opened.
According to the Winnipeg Free Press, Kane was “strongly encouraged” by the team to keep wearing number nine. Kane said he would only do so with Hull’s blessing, which he received today.
“It’s almost like asking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage,” said Kane last month. “If he doesn’t have an issue with me wearing it, I’ll do my best on and off to live up to wearing that number. If I have to change, I’ll change.”
True North Sports and Entertainment is doing the right thing by letting Kane wear the number. This is a completely different franchise. Considering the fact that they “strongly encouraged” Kane to wear the number, that the team has a brand new logo and the initial rumblings that True North may not call the team the Jets at all, it appears that they are determined to forge their own identity in Winnipeg. That’s an excellent path to take.
Kane certainly seems excited about the team’s future.
“I’m looking forward to playing before a hockey-crazy city in front of passionate fans, playing in a big-time hockey market,” said Kane.
“This team could be a top team in the conference.”
Focusing on the future of the team while paying respect to the old Winnipeg Jets of the past is exactly where this franchise should be. It seems like Evander Kane understands that.
Now… they will eventually have jerseys, right?