You won't find many people who would disagree the four-time Stanley Cup champion, seven-time James Norris Trophy winner and 2002 Conn Smythe winner should have his number hang from the rafters.
However, the debate begins when we ask who should the next Red Wing be to have his number retired?
The arguments could be made for Chris Osgood and Sergei Fedorov, but I think it should be Pavel Datysuk.
Don't get me wrong, Osgood and Fedorov are both outstanding players and will both be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame eventually. But neither of them had the impact that Datsyuk had on the Red Wings.
Having your number retired by a team is the utmost honor you can have as a player. It signifies what you accomplished while a member of that organization, and the organization holds you in such high esteem that it retires your number.
Osgood and Fedorov certainly have the numbers to warrant a retired number. Osgood won three Stanley Cups (two as a starter) and Fedorov won two Frank J. Selke Trophies and a Hart Trophy in his career with the Red Wings. Not to mention those back-to-back Stanley Cups probably don't happen without either Osgood or Fedorov.
But a retired jersey number is not something that should be handed out to every great player. There are only so many numbers a player can wear and, therefore, only the very best of the best should have their number retired.
If the Red Wings started retiring every great player's number, they wouldn't have any numbers for the current roster to wear. The team has been around for almost 100 years, and a lot of great players have come and gone throughout the years.
The Red Wings, especially, have had a history and tradition of winning, and it took a lot of great players to make that history and uphold that tradition.
Datsyuk may not have as many Cups as Osgood or the stats that Fedorov posted, but he is a more dynamic and better all-around player than both Osgood and Fedorov.
Besides, when was the last time anyone said "Wow, what a Fedorovian deke?"
Tom Mitsos is a Michigan native who covers the Detroit Red Wings for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. He also is a high school sports reporter at MLive Media Group. You can follow Tom on Twitter.
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- Sergei Fedorov
- Chris Osgood