Pressure by Number: Tyler Seguin
Today the Boston Bruins officially introduced Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin. Apparently Horton will wear #18, the number he wore in juniors. Tyler Seguin will wear #19, last worn by scorn inducing Joe Thornton.
Seguin wore #9 in the OHL, but that number is currently retired. The name Bucyk may ring a bell. Long live the Chief!
Fans, media and bloggers across the interwebs immediately sprung into debates, talking about how Seguin had so much more pressure on him because he is now wearing #19.
Umm…. what? Pressure of being a second overall pick? We get that. Pressure of being called a potential franchise player in a Cup hungry town? Definitely get that. But pressure simply because of the number he wears? That is the most asinine logic we’ve heard since Peter Chiarelli tried to rationalize the Ference contract.
After the jump, Patrice Purr-geron tries to find logic in this stupid argument.
Why exactly is there pressure by wearing Joe Thornton’s number? Do people think Seguin is going to fail under the pressure of disappearing in the playoffs? I’m sure that wouldn’t be hard if Seguin wanted to go that route.
We get it. Kind of. Thornton was the Bruins last top 2 pick. He had great expectations, was marked the savior of Bruins hockey. And he failed. I mean, if you can call a guy who consistently scores around 90 points a failure.
He did fail to bring a Cup to Boston. And now Tyler Seguin is being compared to him simply for the number he wears.
Tyler Seguin is not Joe Thornton. When Thornton entered the league, people were calling him the next Mario Lemieux. If those are the standards you are holding someone to, of course they’re going to “fail.” There is never going to be another Lemieux. Years from now when Thornton is retired, some poor prospect who is an excellent play maker but lacks leadership will be called the next Joe Thornton. But if that kid scores 90 points a season I’m betting his team won’t care.
Seguin wears #19 in honor of his favorite player, Steve Yzerman. But there is no pressure based simply on a number. The number on the back of your jersey does not dictate the type of player you’ll be or the type of player you should expect someone to be. The number on the back of the jersey means nothing. Seguin has no obligation to live up to Thornton or surpass him. Seguin just needs to forge his own legacy, whatever that may be. We’ll know in 20 years.
By this logic, Wideman’s Boston failures can also be blamed on Thornton. Joe Thornton wore #6 before he changed to #19. Wideman must’ve felt great pressure to be the offensive force that Thornton was. Unfortunately, Wideman buckled under the pressure and was shipped to Florida. Thanks a lot Jumbo Joe! You’re still cursing the Bruins to this day!
It is not Seguin’s responsibility to erase the memories and “failures” of Joe Thornton from the minds of Boston’s fans. If that is what you are turning this into, you’re probably one of those people that will demand the Bruins trade Seguin if he only scores 40 or 50 points this season. Assuming he makes the roster at all.
The only responsibility Seguin has is to play to the best of his abilities regardless of the number on the back of his sweater. Comparing him to Thornton just because of #19 is more ridiculous than the contract Glen Sather gave to Wade Redden (sorry Rangers fans).
But maybe we’re just being jerks. Maybe this whole number business makes sense. So, we sent Patrice Purr-geron out to find out if other current Bruins have lived up to the hype of the number on the back of their jerseys.
Tyler Seguin. Second overall pick. Bruins savior. According to some, a chiseled hunk of man meat with eyes you could get lost in.
And now… he’s wearing Thorton’s jersey number. The pressure, apparently, is on. So how have other Bruins players dealt with wearing the numbers of other Boston “legends?” I went to TD Garden to find out.
I first stumbled upon fan favorite and third greatest player in NHL history Shawn Thornton. Thornton wears #22, the same number worn by Willie O’Ree. Mr. O’Ree was often referred to as the Jackie Robinson of ice hockey because he was the first black player to play in the NHL. In case you don’t recall, people were jerks to other people with slightly darker skin back in the day so this was a big deal.
So how does that pressure affect Thornton? “It crushes me to be honest,” Thornton sadly told me over a cup of tea. “Willie made history. The pressure of being another #22 in the Bruins is sometimes too much to take. I mean, I know I’m awesome. I have sweet puck handling skills. I’m a funny funny guy. But Willie broke down color barriers in hockey. All I break down is other players pride and faces.”
Perhaps the burden of living up to other historic jersey numbers is too much. I continued our investigation.
Despite being embroiled in constant trade rumors, goalie Tim Thomas was nice enough to sit down with me. I asked him if wearing the #30 brought any extra pressure to his play.
“… more pressure than you’ll ever know,” said Thomas, followed by a long sigh. “Jim Carey wore #30 for the Bruins. Not only am I expected to stop pucks, but I’m also expected to kill at the box office. I’m just really not that much of a jokester. I like to fish. I like to play hockey. But I’ve never been able to live up to his comedic expectations in Boston. It has definitely affected my play over the years, especially last year.”
“Plus he’s tapping Jenny McCarthy. My wife ain’t no former Playboy model.”
I informed Thomas he was thinking of the wrong Jim Carey, and that Ace Ventura never played for the Bruins. He got up and ran toward’s Chiarelli’s office, mumbling something about playing better and hating Thornton for some joke…
Next, I ran into Blake Wheeler outside playing a game of catch with one of the trainers on a makeshift football field. Wheeler kept running into the end zone without the ball as the coach yelled at him to catch the ball first.
I asked Wheeler if he felt any pressure wearing #26. “Well, I was originally #42 when I first started playing with the Bruins. But the pressure of living up to P.J. Stock’s reputation was hurting my career. I mean, I wouldn’t even know how to throw a hit or even a punch. So I quickly switched,” Wheeler told me.
“Now I wear #26 in honor of Mike Milbury. For multiple reasons. First, as a GM Mike made some terrible, terrible moves. I mean the guy never learned no matter how many times people told him he was an idiot. And that’s how I approach my offsides. No matter how many times coach tells me to stay onsides, I still hope the refs won’t notice and I can get a breakaway.”
“And I’ve always really wanted to hit someone with a shoe. That just sounds like a lot of fun.”
Fantastic Blake. I strutted on down to the gym where I predictably found Zdeno Chara. He was doing pull-ups with several midgets attached to his ankles.
“Extra weight,” exclaimed the big Bruins defender. “Must sculpt body. Chara have shoot with Playgirl at end of month!” After his standard 1000 reps, he stopped to talk with me for a bit. “No, Chara feel no pressure because of jersey number. Chara wear #33 in honor of Anson Carter. Chara love racial diversity. Good man, good player, great hair.”
I decided to head up to the nosebleeds and sit down for a few. As I was looking at the banners I noticed Andrew Ference across the way. I decided to walk over and approach him.
“Chiarelli is making me sit here,” said a disgruntled Ference. “He said the press box was too good for me so I had to come sit in the regular seats. He mumbled something about my contract and other GMs laughing at him. Wanted me to start getting used to it for next season.”
I asked about his number. “#21? Nah, I didn’t pick that in honor of any former Bruin. I chose that number because 21 is the amount of games I intend to play every season before I injure my groin. Doing alright so far. I played more than 30 last year so the boys threw a party for me!”
“I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time up here next year. Bruins fans can make fun of me all they want, but thanks to Mr. Chiarelli I go home every night and shower myself in money! Suck it everyone who boos me!”
Finally, I decided to ask the man himself. I found the Bruins most hyped draft pick since Jumbo Joe. I asked him directly.
“I’m not even sure who Joe Thornton is Mr. Purr-geron,” Seguin respectfully said. “The Bruins gave me some old playoff tapes to watch, but honestly I didn’t even notice him. Besides, I wear #19 in honor of Yzerman, not Thornton.”
There you have it. Comparing Seguin to Thornton, or saying that Seguin needs to make up for the failures of Joe Thornton is dumber than following the pull out method. Seguin wearing #19 has absolutely nothing to do with Thornton wearing #19. Two different players, two different times. Meow.
This is how we felt on Hockey Night in Canada when this topic came up…….
Thanks Patrice. Nice suit.
You can compare the situation to Thornton. A high draft pick coming into a high pressure situation with high expectations. That is a valid argument and comparison.
But if you are one of those people still arguing the pressure angle strictly based on the #19 and Seguin’s need to surpass Thornton, we hear they’re giving out a million dollars for everyone who jumps off the Tobin…….
Until next time, this is Days of Y’Orr and Patrice Purr-geron signing off.