Patrik Elias’ retirement announcement was met with the news that the Devils will retire his No. 26. Which other NHLers are in line to have their numbers raised to the rafters by their current team?
Patrik Elias took nearly an entire season to decide whether or not he would officially hang up his skates, but it took New Jersey all of a few moments to decide how to honor the longtime Devils great.
Though Elias only announced he’d be leaving the game for good on Friday, the Devils made clear that he’ll be back with the team for at least one memorable night come next season. The date for Elias’ appearance at the Prudential Center in New Jersey hasn’t been announced, but when he shows up at ‘The Rock’ next season, he’ll be in town as the Devils raise his No. 26 to the rafters.
Retiring Elias’ jersey is a no-brainer for the franchise, much like it wasn’t really a question whether Martin Brodeur, Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Ken Daneyko should be honored in the same way. Each was integral to success and championships the Devils’ picked up during their heyday, and Elias’ legacy in New Jersey is rich.
With his career officially over, he finishes second all-time in games played (1,240), first in goals (408), first in assists (617) and first in points, as the only 1,000-point player in franchise history with 1,025. Not only that, Elias also captured two Stanley Cups in New Jersey, scoring 45 goals and 125 points in 162 post-season games as a Devil. In addition, he was a four-time representative at the All-Star Game, earned his way onto the league’s all-rookie team in 1997-98, was a first-team all-star in 2000-01 and spent every single second of his NHL career as a Devil.
"I made a couple of decisions based on loyalty staying here and I'm proud of it," Elias said, per the Devils’ website. "I'm proud of playing for one team, one organization.”
During Elias’ final days with the organization, it was clear that he was going to have his number retired. In honor of that, below are active players who are locks to see their jersey raised to the rafters by their current team:
Anaheim Ducks — Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf
The Ducks’ duo have been tearing up the league for more than a decade now and it shows in their standing on the all-time list. Perry, who is second in all-time games played, has 348 goals and 715 points, which rank second and third in the respective categories. Getzlaf, who is third in games played, is first all-time in assists and second all-time with 807 points. Both have a Stanley Cup on their resume, as well, and as long as the Ducks stay in the hunt, there’s a chance both could add a second. No one will ever wear No. 10 or No. 15 in Anaheim again.
Arizona Coyotes — Shane Doan
There’s not much to be said about Doan’s tenure in Arizona that hasn’t already been brought up hundreds of times. Pick a statistical category and Doan is likely the leader. He’s been the face of the franchise since the prime years of his career and he’s synonymous with the Coyotes. It’ll be a sad day in the desert when Doan hangs them up, but it shouldn’t be long before he gets to see familiar faces at his jersey retirement ceremony.
Boston Bruins — Zdeno Chara
Captain for more than a decade in Boston, Chara led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup and is the third-highest scoring defenseman in Bruins history. (Not counting Dit Clapper and Milt Schmidt, who played both forward and defense in Boston.) Chara was the cornerstone of the Bruins’ blueline since his arrival and, in many ways, his emergence on the back end signalled the turnaround in Beantown from struggling franchise to Cup contender. There have been 18 players in Boston’s history to wear No. 33, but no one will wear it once Chara moves on.
Chicago Blackhawks — Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane
It’s almost assured Keith, Toews and Kane will see their sweaters hanging alongside other Blackhawks’ legends. Three Stanley Cups will do that. Here’s the tricky thing about the Blackhawks, though: who doesn’t get the nod? One could argue the top trio could be joined by active Blackhawks Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook and Marian Hossa. Hossa is Hall of Fame-bound and close to a top-25 scorer in franchise history, Seabrook has been a leader on- and off-ice and Crawford is the underrated backbone in goal, on pace to be the second-winningest netminder in franchise history. The United Center rafters could be packed once this era’s players start to get honored.
Detroit Red Wings — Henrik Zetterberg
Just ask GM Ken Holland. Speaking with THN’s Ken Campbell on Thursday, Holland made it clear he has no desire to move Zetterberg and chances are he remains a Red Wing until he decides he’s done with the game. If that’s not enough, Holland said, “Zetterberg’s jersey is going in the rafters.” Enough said.
Los Angeles Kings — Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty
The centerpiece up front as the Kings won the first two Stanley Cups in franchise history was Kopitar. Likewise, Doughty was the stud on the back end that made both Cup wins possible. They’re forever engrained in Kings history for those reasons alone, but their overall contributions also make them virtual locks. Doughty is a Norris-winning blueliner and well on his way to becoming the highest-scoring rearguard in team history. Meanwhile, Kopitar is already the sixth-highest scorer and should be able to crack the top-four by the time his career is done, passing some guy named Wayne Gretzky along the way.
Minnesota Wild — Mikko Koivu
To those outside of The State of Hockey, this might seem like a weird inclusion, but Koivu is the Wild. When hockey historians look back on the franchise’s early successes, Koivu’s name is going to be the representative who stands out. Sure, other players may have more pure offensive talent, but Koivu’s longevity and dedication to the team is second to none. Literally. He’s the all-time games played leader, second in goals, first in assists and has a nearly 200-point edge on the all-time points mark. The ‘C’ in Minnesota has been Koivu’s for nearly a decade, as well.
Montreal Canadiens — Carey Price
It seems like yesterday that Price was backstopping Canada to World Junior Championship gold, but he’s already played more than 500 games for the Canadiens, winning 269 of those outings. Price may not have the Stanley Cup glory that other Montreal netminders have had, but he’s a Vezina and Hart Trophy winner and his 269 wins are the third-most of any Canadiens netminder. Chances are he passes Patrick Roy (289) on the all-time wins list as early as next season and it wouldn’t be all too surprising to see him pass Jacques Plante (314) shortly thereafter.
New York Rangers — Henrik Lundqvist
Lundqvist is one of the greatest goaltender's in league history to have never won the Stanley Cup. In every full season of his career, Lundqvist has won 30 games and his 404 wins are the 10th-most in league history. Even on a team as iconic as the Rangers, and one that has boasted a goaltender as incredible as Mike Richter, Lundqvist already has the all-time wins record long before he's set to retire. It wouldn't be surprising if Lundqvist finishes his career in the top-five on the NHL's all-time wins list.
Ottawa Senators — Erik Karlsson
Karlsson may seem relatively young to be considered for such an honor, but let’s run down his numbers, shall we? Eighth in all-time games played, third among defensemen. Ninth in goals, first among defensemen. Third in assists, first among defensemen. Fourth in points and, you guessed it, first among defensemen. As much as Price represents the Canadiens, Karlsson is the Senators. He’s an all-world offensive blueliner the likes of which we haven’t seen elsewhere in this generation. If he stays in Ottawa for his entire career, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if he’s behind only Daniel Alfredsson on the all-time scoring list.
Pittsburgh Penguins — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin
How early in Crosby’s career could he have been considered a lock for jersey retirement? Probably around the time he signed his 12-year contract back in 2012, right? By that point, he already had 223 goals and 609 points, marks good enough to put him eighth and seventh on the Penguins’ respective all-time lists. He also had a Stanley Cup to his name, too. That came alongside Malkin, who himself stands fourth all-time in both goals and points. Everything the duo accomplishes in Pittsburgh only adds to their already jersey-retirement credentials.
San Jose Sharks — Patrick Marleau, Joe Thornton
Even if Marleau and Thornton never reach another Stanley Cup final or end their careers without hoisting the sport’s greatest prize, the fact will remain that they were as integral to the success of hockey in the Bay Area as any pair of players the organization has ever had. For the past 11 seasons, Marleau and Thornton have been the steadying influences for an always-competitive Sharks franchise and their numbers speak for themselves. The duo has the top two spots in franchise scoring, top two spots in assists and are one-two in games played. Fitting given Thornton and Marleau went first- and second-overall in the 1997 draft.
Vancouver Canucks — Daniel and Henrik Sedin
The Canucks have had their share of iconic players. Markus Naslund was the dominant scorer in the early-aughts, Trevor Linden was the ever-present face of the franchise and Pavel Bure was the gone-too-soon superstar. But no one has left a more indelible mark on the franchise’s record book than the Sedins. Over the past 16 seasons, the Sedins have turned into two of the premier stars in the league. They are the all-time games played leaders, Daniel holds the all-time goals mark, Henrik has the all-time assists record and only 33 points separate Henrik from Daniel on the all-time scoring list.
Washington Capitals — Alex Ovechkin
Ovechkin is the single greatest goal scorer of his generation and arguably the best ever given his scoring ability during one of the lowest scoring eras in league history. It’s not even a question whether his number will be retired, nor is it a question if he’s Hall of Fame bound. Like Crosby, Ovechkin’s jersey retirement in Washington was sealed early in his career, and the only thing that’s missing from his stellar resume is a Stanley Cup. Maybe this is the year.
But here’s an interesting question: is Nicklas Backstrom also a lock for jersey retirement? He’s never been the same level of superstar as Ovechkin, but few players have been as consistent and Backstrom is the fourth-highest scorer in franchise history. Chances are he also sees his number retired, but moving even further up the all-time list and winning a title would certainly make him a no-doubter.
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