Alright Wilderness, your first session of "Make a donation to Movember and have me write an article about whatever you want" has arrived. Thanks toCornelius over at Stanley Cup of Chowder for his donation, and his request of why number 37 should be retired in honor of the great Wes Walz. Josh Harding may have a problem with this, but hear me out folks.
I’ll be honest upfront (cause I’m an honest person), if we are retiring Wild numbers Wes wouldn’t be my first choice (The Boogyman a.k.a. Derek Boogaard would be my sentimental choice for those wondering). But I like sentimental choices and Walz certainly was and still is a crowd favorite. When I started writing this, I looked up all his stats and tried to find a great reason stats-wise that his number should be retired. About 30 minutes into this adventure, I decided that I have always based my writing on my emotions, and I am going to stick with that theme for this.
Don’t get me wrong, Walz has impressive stats if you want to go that way. His career spans 11 years and 607 games played. He has accumulated 260 points, with 182 of those coming in a Wild sweater (82 goals, 100 assists). His currently sits 7th in total points scored in a Wild jersey. He named team captain for 2 months in 2006 (during the Wilds month C change). He was one of the guys that was on our team from the moment the Wild had players to the moment he retired.
But Wes really shines off the rink. Although he is a native Canadian, he now calls the state of hockey home and is an assistant coach for a high school hockey team in one of the suburbs. He is constantly doing working to help the community, whether it be running the Wilds hockey camp or taking part in charity hockey games. Most recently, Walz took part in the charity game put on by Defending the Blue line. Even though he has been retired for 5 years, he got more cheers and screams than Zach Parise when he stepped onto the ice.
I know a lot of people here, and in the hockey community in general, want numbers retired mostly based on stats. I don’t really want to get into a discussion of the usefulness of statistics, but I strongly believe that while stats are important, a decision on the impact a player makes on a team shouldn’t be decided by numbers. Retiring a jersey number should not, under any circumstances, be decided only on the stats that a player puts up over his career. I’d rather go with guys who not only made a positive impact on the team, but also made a great impact on the game and the community. Wes Walz certainly fits that bill.