DAN SNYDER'S legacy and memory will live on with Winnipeg's new NHL franchise.
The former Atlanta Thrashers player died from injuries suffered in a car accident with then-teammate Dany Heatley at the wheel in 2003. And even before the relocation of the Thrashers to Winnipeg had become official, fans in Atlanta — and in Snyder's home town of Elmira, Ont. — were vocal with their concern he might be forgotten in the move.
While the Winnipeg organization isn't sure yet how that legacy will continue, Snyder will be honoured in some way. The Thrashers named an annual award after him — the Dan Snyder Memorial Award — which was given to the player that 'best embodies perseverance, dedication, and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.'
The Chicago Wolves, the Thrashers' AHL affiliate, awarded annually the Dan Snyder Man of the Year Award and hung his number in the rafters of their arena. As well, the Ontario Hockey League renamed its humanitarian of the year award the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy.
Worth noting is a connection of sorts with the Manitoba Moose: former Moose Dallas Eakins, a good friend of current Winnipeg assistant GM/director of hockey operations Craig Heisinger, was very close to Snyder.
"Craig was in Atlanta and saw all the things they did for Dan Snyder and we are fully prepared and will be honouring everything to do with him," said director of hockey operations/communications Scott Brown. "Dan Synder's friends and family should not worry at all about that."
What does provide for an intriguing situation related to this story is this: the Phoenix Coyotes, who have honoured former Jets' legends Bobby Hull, Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen in their ring of honour, own the Jets' history and records. Winnipeg's new franchise owns the Thrashers' history.
So, will Hull, Hawerchuk and Steen see their jerseys hanging from the rafters at the MTS Centre?
"We're a little tentative about retired numbers," Brown said. "Dan Snyder's number (37) was retired in Atlanta, but what if we bring in a free agent who wants to wear No. 37? And then we get into the retired numbers of Winnipeg Jets.
"Those are questions we have to ask ourselves. Retired numbers become very tricky going forward. For example, Evander Kane is No. 9. I don't know this, but I imagine Evander Kane would like to continue wearing No. 9 and we would hope that if we decided to let him continue wearing that number Winnipeg hockey fans would be accepting of that and the step forward in the franchise history rather than focussing on keeping Bobby Hull's No. 9 retired.
"These are all issues we've been discussing, believe me."