An Open Letter To Ted Leonsis

May 27, 2011 | Chad Lamasa

Now that I’ve had a bit of time, to recover from the disheartening sweep, I looked back at the season and realized that Alex Ovechkin reached two significant career milestones this season, 600 points and 300 goals, placing him third all time on the Capitals list for goals and points, and fourth in assists, it got me to thinking about the people above him.

 

Next in line is Mike Gartner with 789 points (397 G 402 A). His number is hanging in the rafters at Verizon Center, as it clearly should be.

 

With 825 points (472 G 353 A), Peter Bondra tops the franchise records for both goals and points and sits third in assists.

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My question is, why is his number 12 not in the rafters, alongside two of his teammates (Mike Gartner, the most recent player to have his number raised, and Dale Hunter)?

 

Another player on that 1998 Stanley Cup Finals team, that also is clearly deserving of having his number retired, is Olaf Kolzig. He holds virtually all of the goaltending records for the franchise. His records will probably stand longer than Bondra’s since all the goalies on our team are just beginning their careers. However, that doesn’t mean we should wait to raise his number 37 to the rafters.

 

I’m not sure what the criteria, to have a number retired is. Does the player have to make the Hall of Fame? Bondra and Kolzig are probably both borderline Hall of Famers. Bondra already missed on his first ballot. But even if they never make it to Toronto, that doesn’t change their accomplishments for the franchise.

 

Both are still extremely popular among the fans. I know Bondra is still around the area, or at least will make himself available, having seen him at the Convention and public signings as well as playing in the alumni game at the Winter Classic.

 

I’m guessing that since no one wears either 12 or 37 they are unofficially retired but it’s time to make it official.

 

I just renewed my season tickets for next season, my 3rd as an STH. I would love to have one or two of those nights devoted to these players. To see them on the ice one last time at Verizon Center would be fantastic.

 

The nights could be tied into their jersey numbers. Depending on the schedule, they could be the 12th and 37th games of the season. Or if they are road games then the 12th and 37th home games of the season.

 

It doesn’t really matter when it happens just that it does, but as far as I’m concerned the sooner the better.

 

I was in attendance for the Mike Gartner ceremony and that was a great night. Bondra and Kolzig deserve their turn.

 

With the short history of the Caps, at least in hockey terms, there is still plenty of room in the rafters of the Verizon Center. It’s not as though we are running out of numbers, they would be just the fifth and sixth out of the possible 98 available.

 

I’m sure I’m not the only fan that feels this way.

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