7 + 5 + 32 + 11 = 4

Mike Gartner - photo from HHOF.com

Mike Gartner - photo from HHOF.com

The Southeast Division Champion banner will not be the only Washington Capitals branded item to be raised to the rafters this hockey season.¬† The Capitals announced today that Mike Gartner’s number 11 will be retired during a pregame ceremony before the game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday, December 28th.¬† Gartner currently ranks second in goals (397), assists (392) and points (789) and is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
From the Capitals press release:

“Capitals fans have fond memories of Mike Gartner flying down the right wing and scoring goals at the Capital Centre,” said Capitals chairman and majority owner Ted Leonsis. “This is a fitting tribute to one of the elite offensive players in the history of the game who was a crucial member of the first Capitals playoff teams.”
“It is a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Washington Capitals and to join the distinguished company of my fellow teammates Yvon Labre, Rod Langway and Dale Hunter,” Gartner said. “I look forward to the upcoming evening in December and sharing those fond memories with my family and those fans in attendance.”

Single game tickets for the game will be on sale later in September.  There will also be a commemorative Mike Gartner giveaway.
This will be the fourth number retired by the Capitals — Yvon Labre #7, Rod Langway #5, and Dale Hunter #32 are the others.

This entry was posted in Hockey Hall of Fame, Hockey Heroes, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals. Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to 7 + 5 + 32 + 11 = 4

  1. Gustafsson says:

    Personally, I don’t think the Caps should have any numbers retired. Hung in the rafters and honoured is one thing, retired is entirely different.
    Presumably Bondra’s and Kolzig’s will be raised at some point, too, yet there is no Stanley Cup banner.
    #8 may be the first that is truly worthy of “retirement”.

  2. Gustafsson says:

    Upon closer inspection, the press release states:

    “The Washington Capitals will retire Mike Gartner‚Äôs No. 11 jersey…”

    So perhaps the number will still see action. We’ll get clarification from the Caps.

  3. b.orr4 says:

    I tend to agree with you, Gus on retiring numbers before winning Cups, but I’m willing to make an exception in Mike’s case. Clearly, his stats alone speak to his worthiness for this honor (and if Poile hadn’t ridden him out of town, he’d have put up numbers that even Ovie would have a hard time matching). But as great as Garts was on the ice, he was even better off it. Of all the hundreds of players that have worn the Caps uniform, I don’t think you could find a more decent and caring person than #11. I know there were some hard feelings between Mike and the organization over the way he was scapegoated for the team’s playoff failures, but it’s great to see Ted has mended that fence and Mike is now officially back in the Caps family.

  4. Gustafsson says:

    We just received word from the Caps that the number will indeed be retired, so scratch that off the list.

  5. Matt says:

    I guess I shouldn’t be too worried about the Caps retiring Bondra’s number, since they’re just now coming around to Gartner.

  6. I don’t think they should rush on Bondra, or even Kolzig when his career ends. Retiring numbers should be done with adequate perspective, like a Hall of Fame candidacy, and not right after the player retires.
    Perhaps Gartner’s number hitting the rafters is a bit overdue, but I think a minimum 3- or 5-year wait after a player retires before a jersey can be raised seems reasonable.

  7. mark says:

    I agree that few (if any) of the Caps have met the standard NHL threshold for retired numbers, but if the bar is set with Labre, Hunter, and Langway, then by all means #11 should be next.
    In fact, it surprised me when so many other players wore #11 — Tim Bergland (1990-92), Bob Carpenter (1992-93), Tim Bergland (1994), Jeff Nelson (1995-96), Esa Tikkanen (1998), and Jeff Halpern (1999-06). That’s directly from caps.com

  8. Teams are getting a little too loose with the requirements for retiring numbers. Richter, Gilmour, Daneyko… the standard seems to be getting weaker, almost as if certain teams are having a hard time finding legit honorees.
    I’m not going to pass absolute judgment on Gartner because he’s obviously close to Caps fans’ hearts, but the guy never won an award, a Cup, the captain’s “C”, or an All-Star Team selection (the real AS team, not the game). Great resume’ in terms of consistency, but doesn’t it seem a little less elite than Langway’s… or even Hunter’s?

  9. pepper says:

    Ultimately, its a wonderful thing to “welcome back into the family” former great Capitals players, providing a more hallowed quality to the franchise’s history.
    But I never thought of Gartner as a “heart and soul” Capital, and I’m honestly kind of luke warm about the news.

  10. pgreene says:

    seeing as i wasn’t a caps fan back then, i can only assume ivan labre is the same person as yvon labre? because if not, i’m confused…

  11. Grooven says:

    What’s the obsession people have with retiring numbers? Why is something like a Hall of Stars or a Ring of Honor not sufficient? Why isn’t recognition good enough, but rather you have to make it so that no one’s allowed to wear a number?
    DC United has two recognized players but those numbers are still wearable.
    The Caps have three retired (the fourth announced, and some fans clamoring for five and six already) in thirty five years of existence.
    The Redskins only have one officially retired though there are something like eleven that are withheld (think back to Wuerffel wearing #7 and the hubbub that caused).
    And yet look all around and teams across the country(ies) are announcing games when players numbers will be retired. The Montreal Canadiens have retired seven historical players since 2005. (They have fourteen total, the first in 1937)
    I’m not disputing the players’ warranting of honor, or which players merit and which do not; that’s a different argument. Mike Gartner was a thrill to watch.
    I’m disputing the practice to begin with of how to honor. I’m much more on board with a Hall of Stars or some such to provide recognition.

  12. Gustafsson says:

    Good eye. I copied that portion of the text directly from the Caps press release. They have since corrected the version on the web site. I’ve corrected our quoted text, too.
    Thanks for the heads up.

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