By: Nick Lanciani
What will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.
With that in mind, let’s explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons. Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.
For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.
San Jose Sharks
Current Retired Numbers- None
Recommended Numbers to Retire
19 Joe Thornton
Thornton began his career with the Boston Bruins as the 1st overall selection of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft but was traded to the San Jose Sharks 23 games into the 2005-2006 season and has been an important piece the franchise ever since. Thornton is a stellar playmaker who has fully immersed himself into Bay Area culture to the point that he remains one of the most recognizable Sharks players ever.
While his goal production may be sagging and his leadership has recently come into question, Thornton’s presence in San Jose was the reason why they became such a dominant team in the late 2000s/early 2010s. Now of course, the Sharks find themselves in a bit of a transition, looking to rebuild their roster and either keep Jumbo Joe as part of their long term plan to capture their first Cup or look to see if there are any organizations willing to take on such a large cap hit.
At the end of the day, Joe Thornton is certainly deserving of having his number retired by the San Jose Sharks when he decides to hang up the skates, out of his dedication to the team and northern California hockey.
12 Patrick Marleau
Marleau is closing in on nearly 20 years with the San Jose Sharks and is the epitome of what it means to be a Shark. His inconsistent play these days shrouds the average hockey fan’s ability to see what Marleau has truly meant to the organization. He is a well liked leader and respected around the league. He is the first successful player to have been developed by the Sharks in their entire franchise history.
The longtime playmaker is also the youngest player in NHL history to have reached the 1,300 games played milestone. The 2nd overall pick of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft is sure to see his number 12 raised to the rafters of the SAP Center when he steps away from the game.
11 Owen Nolan
Nolan spent his longest amount of time with the San Jose Sharks over the course of his 18-year NHL career. He played in eight seasons for the Sharks between the 1995-1996 season and the 2002-2003 season. Nolan, while an iconic player of the 1990s and early 2000s, was most easily recognizable wearing a San Jose teal jersey to many fans of the game.
For the very reason of popularity alone, he stands a chance of having his number retired by the Sharks. However, compared to longtime Sharks forwards, Thornton and Marleau, Nolan’s got little chance of seeing his jersey number hung from the ceiling.
20 Evgeni Nabokov
Nabokov was a San Jose Sharks goaltender for ten years out of his 14-year NHL net minding career. This past season he suited up in 11 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning before being placed on waivers with the purpose of reassignment to Syracuse, ultimately opting for a trade to San Jose to then retire a Shark. Simply put, Evgeni Nabokov was the best goaltender in franchise history for the San Jose Sharks (thus far, anyway). Without a doubt, he’ll likely see his number raised to the rafters within a few years.