The Toronto Maple Leafs get laughed at alot for only “honoring” numbers, instead of retiring them. Right now there are only three numbers a Leaf can’t wear. 99, because Gretzky’s number is retired league wide, 6 for Ace Baily, who is the reason the all star game was started, and number five, the number of the legendary Bill Barilko, who’s story is famous around Leaf Nation.For those who don’t know the Ace Baily story, here is what was listed on Wikipedia:
“Irvine “Ace” Bailey (July 3, 1903 – April 1, 1989) was a star ice hockey player for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1926-1933.
Bailey was one of the top left wingers of his day, but his career came to an abrupt end on December 12, 1933, when he was viciously checked from behind by Eddie Shore of the Boston Bruins, apparently in retailiation for a hit he had received from King Clancy moments earlier. Bailey’s body was hurled across the ice, and it was feared that he would not survive. Bailey did recover, and an All-Star game was held at Maple Leaf Gardens for his benefit on February 12, 1934, the forerunner of the NHL’s modern All-Star Game. Bailey and Shore shook hands and embraced at center ice before the game began. Bailey never played hockey again, but did continue to work for the Maple Leafs as a coach and in the front office until late in life.
In his seven and a half seasons, Bailey totaled 111 goals and 82 assists in 313 games. His #6 jersey is one of only two to have been permanently retired by the Maple Leafs.”
The Leafs have five honored numbers, each has two to a number. Number 1 for Turk Broda and Johnny Bower, number 7 for King Clancy and Tim Horton, number 10, for George Armstrong and Syl Apps (what about Lanny McDonald??) number 9 for Ted Kennedy, and Charlie Conacher, and the most storied Leaf number, 27 for Darryl Sittler and Frank Mahovlich.
Though Dave Keon refuses to get his number 14 honored because of Harold Ballard, and pretty soon you’ll be able to add Gilmours 93, Clarks 17, and n the future, possibley Belfours 20 and Sundins 13.
Not retiring numbers does seem odd, but look at the Boston Bruins, Brian Leetch is a shoe in for the hall of fame, but can’t wear his number 2, because they retired it for Eddie Shore. Ray Bourque had to go from 7 to 77 when they decided to retire Phil Esposito’s number. Right now, if you are a Bruin, and wearing a single digit, it’s number six.
Now imagine this, say Steve Yzerman retires, and they instantly retire his number, then Joe Sakic is traded to the Detroit Red Wings, why not let Sakic wear his number?
There are plenty of other ways to honor players. Honor their number like the Leafs do, put them in the hall of fame, any thing, but why not let these guys wear their numbers???
Leafy’s next article? – (a preview of my next article is in all my articles from now on.) The hall of fame is filled with legends, in the next year of voting, should Steve Larmer, Doug Gilmour, Patrick Roy, Glenn Anderson, Phil Housley, Bernie Nichols, Paul Henderson, and Wendel Clark get in??? Which ones do I think deserve in, and who has a shot.