From The Branches - The Day After

I try not to read the comments on articles in Canada's major dailies (headquartered in the centre of the universe) because they are poorly moderated and filled with trolls. I have been told that there is a lot of anti-Clark sentiment being expressed and I can only hope that those people have settled up with their creditors and their God because soon it'll be time to settle with Wendel for their blaspheming.

Mike Chen captures the response to those people perfectly. If there was some league-wide mandate on the requirements for honouring or retiring jerseys and the Leafs or Canucks or Rangers were subverting those rules then they would be right to complain. However, these ceremonies are unique to each franchise. Just look at the Devils. They retired Ken Daneyko's jersey. He of the 36 career goals. More important was what he represented to the fan base. Godd Till hit on the major reason why Wendel was so loved:

We love Wendel because he played exactly the way the game feels to the devoted fan - with all out heart-stopping fury every shift. We could never pass like Dougie, deke like Mats, or have Cujo's glove hand, but the rampaging game Wendel played was something we could aspire to, relate to. "That's how I would do it," we'd say to ourselves. Of course this is an illusion. Very few people do anything with the passion Wendel summoned from his banged-up body night after night. That's why we love Wendel - he played even harder than we cheered.

Much was made about the gap in Stanley Cup rings between the two honourees last night. What no one mentioned was that aside from being lucky enough to be drafted into a franchise that was still living off the glories of the 70s Roy was lucky in 1993. The Habs won 10 straight overtime games that postseason which will, regardless of ability, involve some measure of success. That year they won game 2 after Marty McSorley stupidly used an illegal stick otherwise they would have been going to Los Angeles down 2-0 in the series. Not to mention that they had already dodged a bullet by not having to play the Leafs thanks to Kerry Fraser and the greatest game of Wayne Gretzky's career. And as Chemmy and I discussed last night, the Habs after their centennial celebrations will really be scraping the barrel for jersey retirements. All they'll have left are players that most fans can't remember and Saku Koivu I guess but who else?

Wendel may not have any rings blocking his ears but you won't find any real hockey fans upset that he's found a place between Frank Mahovolich and Syl Apps.

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