For the first time in 13 years, a player will don the No. 37 for the Winnipeg Jets’ franchise.
The number, formerly worn by Dan Snyder, was taken out of circulation by the team after Snyder’s tragic passing in October 2003. Snyder, 25, was involved in a car accident while a passenger in Dany Heatley’s vehicle. After the accident, Snyder fell into a coma. He died of septic shock six days later. In the years since Snyder’s death, no player has worn No. 37 in either the Thrashers or Jets’ organization. That is until now.
The Winnipeg Jets announced Wednesday that goaltender Connor Hellebuyck will be changing from No. 30 to No. 37 ahead of the new campaign, becoming the third player in the franchise’s history to wear the jersey. The Jets added that Hellebuyck has received the support of the Snyder family in changing to No. 37, which is the number Hellebuyck has worn throughout his career barring his brief time with the Jets.
Hellebuyck is considered by many to be the goaltender of the future for the Jets. This past season, he suited up 26 games with the Jets and posted a 13-11-1 record, 2.34 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Those were the best numbers of any of the three goaltenders to suit up for Winnipeg.
Hellebuyck’s number change won’t come without a tribute to Snyder. Inside of his jersey this season, Hellebuyck will wear a patch that reads ‘DS37’ with the year of Snyder’s birth and death underneath.
The tribute to Snyder will be another way the organization has honored him since his passing. Following his death, the Thrashers wore patches bearing Snyder’s No. 37 for the entire season and established the Dan Snyder Memorial Award. The trophy is awarded each season to the player who “embodies perseverance, dedication and hard work without reward or recognition, so that his team and teammates might succeed.”
The trophy continued to be awarded even after the Thrashers headed north to become the Jets. This past season, Matt Halishcuk earned the honor. Other winners include Chris Thorburn, Bryan Little, Mark Stuart, Colby Armstrong and Slava Kozlov. The first recipient was Garnet Exelby.
In addition, the OHL has established the Dan Snyder Memorial Trophy, a humanitarian award for the league. It is given to the player who “has demonstrated outstanding qualities as a positive role model in the community,” and recipients include Nick Paul, Chris Terry and Mike Angelidis.
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