It’s been a long time coming.
A team of hockey players has been collecting the jersey numbers of the greatest players of all time, from the greatest player to the greatest goalie, and voting them to choose which jersey goes up for sale in a special auction at the NHL’s annual Fan Fest in Toronto this weekend.
It’s the first time a jersey number has been voted for in the auction, which is being held at the same time as the Winter Classic, and comes at a time when the NHL is trying to get more young fans interested in hockey.
The teams involved include the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s the most iconic number in the history of the game, the greatest jersey number in sports history,” said Dave Moberg, vice president of hockey operations for the NHL Players’ Association.
“They have all these incredible names that they represent, and it’s our job to represent them.”
The auction will be held Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre in Toronto, where fans can also see the jerseys at a special price.
There’s no limit to how many jerseys the players can vote on.
But the number of votes per team is limited to five.
So, if the NHLPA wants to select 10 jerseys, the NHL will select one of them and it will go up for auction at a later date.
The NHLPA has had a long-standing tradition of honoring the greatest names in the game.
The last time it did this was in 2007, when the Detroit Red Wings selected the number 14 for goalie Rick DiPietro and the team then went on to win the Stanley Cup.
“This is a chance for all of us to come together as a team and vote on 10 jerseys for a chance to win a jersey for one of the players,” Moberger said.
The players vote for a jersey from the following list: Bob Gainey, Boston Bruins; Brian Leetch, St. Louis Blues; Joe Sakic, Washington Capitals; Wayne Gretzky, Los Angeles Kings; Gordie Howe, Boston Canadiens; Gordis Legros, Montreal Canadiens; Joe Nieuwendyk, Dallas Stars; and Ted Lindsay, Detroit Red Sox.
The top 10 players voted on will get one of five jerseys.
The rest of the names will be decided at the final vote.
The winners of the vote are announced on Feb. 12 at the Fan Fest, where there will be celebrity guests and special giveaways, including free tickets to a Stanley Cup final game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders.
There are no rules for the auction.
There will also be giveaways and giveaways of memorabilia.
The auction is open to all fans, including those who have never purchased a jersey.
The jerseys are eligible for auction through Saturday.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity,” said Mobert.
“The NHLPA, through our fans, has been very supportive of the auction in the past, and this is a great way to showcase the history and legacy of the team that is here.”