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Throughout his career, Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck had worn No. 37 on his sweater, whether it was in the American Hockey League or playing for Team USA. But when he got the call-up to the NHL last season, he sported No. 30 instead.
The reason? The Jets have honored a tradition that carried over from their days as the Atlanta Thrashers, who took No. 37 out of circulation following the death of forward Dan Snyder in 2003.
Snyder was critically injured when a car driven by then-teammate Dany Heatley went out of control and crashed. Snyder died six days later due to septic shock. Heatley eventually pled guilty to second-degree vehicular homicide and other speeding-related chargers, getting three months probation and fines after Snyder’s family asked that he not go to prison.
The Thrashers wore a ‘37’ patch on their jerseys in the 2003-04 season and did not allow another player to wear the number going foward. They also established the Dan Snyder Memorial Award in his honor, which was awarded to the player who “best embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.”
The Jets continued the tradition of handing out the award – the 2015-16 winner was Matt Halischuk – and keeping No. 37 out of circulation. But on Wednesday, the team announced that Hellebuyck would wear No. 37 next season and, in doing so, would honor Snyder.
As you can see, there will be a memorial patch on his jersey, under the number, in tribute to the late Thrashers forward. And according to the Jets, it’s with the blessing of the Snyder family.
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