The Buffalo Sabres don’t just hand out sweater numbers. You want a hockey number – you earn it. If you’re a prospect, a call up – or on a tryout – your going to be wearing a number similar to a offensive lineman. Training camp lineups often look like Nascar poll positions.
For Mikhail Grigorenko – going big with his sweater number is exactly what he wants – and hopes for it to stick through his career.
The Buffalo Sabres top pick in the 2012 Entry Draft is already in Buffalo working out with teammates in the hopes of making a splash and being on the roster for opening night. When he dons a blue and gold sweater, he wants it to be an homage to the former Sabre great Alexander Mogilny. Hold the phone their kid – you want to wear what?
Granted, we are not talking about the legendary number 99 here, but shouldnt the Buffalo Sabres deem number 89 off limits?
I don’t want the Buffalo Sabres to get crazy hanging player banners from the rafters – and at some point when the team ages enough they may have to revert to honoring players only and keeping a number in circulation – but shouldn’t you prove yourself a little bit before you are given the keys to the family car?
Alexander Mogilny didn’t do anything special to get number 89, but he was the first Soviet player to defect from the former Soviet Union. He was the first Russian to captain an NHL sqaud, he was the first Russian to be named to an NHL All Star team. He is second on the all time scoring list for NHL Russians, and hit the 1,000 point mark shortly after Sergei Federov. He has several gold medals, a silver medal, and a Stanley Cup.
There is little doubt that Grigorenko could hold the potential to unseat even the best on the list of all time great Russians to make the NHL – but as an unproven commodity.
Mogilny’s number to me is sacred, I don’t think the Buffalo Sabres should issue it even to a player from the same city as the Sabres legend.
I appreciate what Grigorenko is trying to do, he knows the rumors that swirled around him and that Russians are considered flight risks to the KHL. He is trying to show the organization and its fans that he is ready for the NHL and wants to succeed as his hero has.
Forge your own history young padawan, and pay homage to your hero by being great yourself – let your play dictate a number for you, and one day, stand next to your hero and an alumni gathering wearing different numbers.