“00hhh BABY!”: Why The Rangers Should Retire John Davidson’s Double-Zero

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From 1917 to 1995, there was only one NHL player to wear 00 on the back of his jersey during games: John Davidson. In fact the only other NHL’er to ever wear the double-zeroes was Martin Biron in the 1995-96 season, before the league banned wearing 0 or 00 in 1998. Thus, the duo will be the only duo to foreseeably don the digits, with Davidson being the only Ranger to do so.

This tidbit of hockey trivia has given me an interesting idea: the New York Rangers should retire Davidson’s 00 to the rafters of Madison Square Garden.

Davidson played 250 games as a Ranger, registering 109 wins and eight shutouts between 1975 and 1983. Most memorably, Davidson anchored the 1978-79 Blueshirts to the Stanley Cup Finals, ultimately losing to the dynasty Montreal Canadiens in five games. After retiring a Ranger in 1983, he joined MSG’s TV channel as a broadcaster, until 2006.

He is widely-acclaimed as one of the greatest hockey color-commentators in broadcasting history. He would go on to call playoff games on major networks, as well as All-Star Games, World Cups and Olympic coverage. His insight, intelligence, well-spoken even-keeled coherence was well-received by casual fans and religious hockey viewers alike. His candor, and unabashed aptness to ask teams, players and officials the tough questions on live television allowed him to rise to the highest stratosphere of sports journalism.

If you don’t believe me, here’s the 3rd period of the 3rd Game of the 1996 USA/Canada World Cup. I’d put the J.D.-Doc Emerick tandem against any other hockey broadcast duo on the market.

His contributions, on and off the ice, truly make him a Ranger forever; despite serving as front office executives for the St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets over the past decade. Want proof? During Game 4 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with the Rangers about to be swept against the rival New Jersey Devils in a painful series for Rangers fans in attendance at MSG, the crowd acknowledged Davidson in the waning minutes of the final frame, and chanted “J.D.! J.D.! JD.!”, as it was public knowledge he would be leaving the telecast booth for a front office gig in a few weeks.

To those unfamiliar with Rangers culture, a crowd chanting the name of a broadcaster in the sour face of being swept against the Devils, it truly speaks volumes to the place Davidson has rightfully earned in the hearts of the Garden Faithful.

The New York Rangers must retire John Davidson’s 00, raise it to the rafters in an enriching pre-game ceremony, and honor the man as he has come to deserve.

Since 00 cannot be worn by another player, retiring the number would not prevent future Rangers from wearing it. It will have no practical effect on future Rangers’ choice of jersey selection, so the honor would be more, well, honorary than anything else. But it’s time. In fact, it’s probably long overdue.

Davidson’s broadcasting catchphrase, when reacting to a big play, “oooohhhh, BABY!”, could be cleverly marketed into a nice shtick: “00hhhh, BABY!” See? The advertising writes itself.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, where Davidson currently resides as President of Hockey Operations, is scheduled to visit the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, October 10th and Monday, February 29th. Can someone make this thing happen, please?

Here is the petition: click to sign it.

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Follow me on Twitter at @HockeyStatMiner.

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