The Erie Otters have three players with numbers over 40 on their sweaters – defenseman Troy Donnay (No. 57) and centers Dane Fox (No. 74) and Connor McDavid (No. 97). In contrast, three players combined had numbers over 40 in the franchise’s previous 15 seasons – Nikita Alexeev (No. 81), Jason Ward (No. 61) and Jeff Zehr (No. 55). Alexeev was the last Otter to do it in 2001.
Sherry Bassin, Otters managing partner and general manager, had maintained a strict rule about numbers all these years. He never understood why anyone needed numbers much higher, since there were many to choose from between 0 and 40. “You didn’t all those big numbers,” Bassin said.
Yet Bassin has relaxed on that rule since he presented No. 1 pick McDavid with No. 97 at the team’s OHL draft party in April. “Everybody’s got to change,” Bassin said. Now he said, “It doesn’t make a difference to me.”
- Victor Fernandes