Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff was the go-between this summer when left-winger Evander Kane decided he'd like to wear No. 9 for his debut season in Winnipeg.
So said Jets icon Bobby Hull Monday. Hull was in the city to support a new provincial program for battery recycling.
Hull's story makes perfect sense, given that Cheveldayoff worked as the Chicago Blackhawks' assistant GM for two seasons before being appointed to his post in Winnipeg.
"I didn't talk to (Kane) this summer," Hull said. "Mr. Cheveldayoff, who was in Chicago last year, called the Blackhawks office... and they said, 'Bobby, there's a young man in Winnipeg by the name of Kane and he wants to wear No. 9. So they said, 'Would you feel badly if the number was taken down?'
"I said, 'Heck, no, if the young man wants to forge his career here in Winnipeg and wear my number, all the more power to him."
Hull eventually did meet Kane last Thursday when the new Jets paid their first visit to Chicago. Hull, who was in attendance, went down to the dressing room to meet the young forward after the game and made it sound Monday like he won't feel badly if Kane eventually changes his mind.
"Then the other night in Chicago I went down to see him after the game," Hull reported. "And I said, 'Listen young man, this could get a little heavy as the year goes on. If you fail to score in the first dozen or so games, it could get a little heavy, so don't feel bad if you want to shed it.'"
Hull, a semi-regular at Blackhawks games now that the franchise's legends have been welcomed back with open arms, was asked who he was cheering for last Thursday in Chicago.
"After the first two goals, it was Winnipeg," he laughed.
Hull also made fun of himself Monday as the "last one to congratulate Winnipeg" for its return to the NHL.
But he said during his visit that he's as excited as his legion of fans.
"I was excited but I was surprised mostly, knowing the NHL," Hull said. "Once bitten, twice shy. I said, 'Holy Dinah, they've made it through.' It's great, it's going to be great for Winnipeg again because I knew what it meant to Winnipeg when I was here.
"Dale (Hawerchuk, also in Winnipeg on Monday) knew how important it was when he was here. You have to have a professional hockey team here in Winnipeg. It's just part of the woodwork and I was happy as can be."
Hull also encouraged Winnipeg's fans to see to it the future of the team is long-term. "It was gone 15 years, don't lose 'em again," Hull said. "This is very important to the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba to have a professional hockey team here in Winnipeg."