Former Montreal Canadiens forward and now Winnipeg Jets flagship Nate Thompson will begin a new chapter in his professional career in 2020-2021 and his debut in Manitoba will not go unnoticed.
The one who signed a one-year, $ 750,000 contract with the Jets on October 10, the same day marking the fourth anniversary of his win against alcohol, had to pick his jersey number recently. The 44 belongs to Josh Morrissey, while the 19, which he was also targeting, is owned by David Gustafsson. Equipment manager Jason McMaster suggested the 11.
However, this number has a very special meaning in Winnipeg. Sure enough, it hasn’t been worn since the transfer from the Atlanta Thrashers. In fact, his first holder with the Jets was to be Rick Rypien, who had initialed a one-year deal with the organization in the summer of 2011. However, he lost his battle with depression and died on the 15th. August of the same year.
« He [McMaster] told me that this bib had not been given away since Rick Rypien and that if there is anyone who will wear it again it will be me, Thompson told the club’s official website. I was initially nervous about this. It seemed unbelievable to me, because I know what Rick Rypien represents to amateurs here. I had to think about it a bit. «
Checks to be done
This is how the veteran took the necessary precautions to make sure he made the right choice. He notably contacted a former teammate of Rypien, Kevin Bieksa. Moreover, Thompson knows well this ex-defender whom he rubbed shoulders with with the Anaheim Ducks between 2015 and 2017. After Bieksa recommended that he wear this jersey, the forward received help from Craig Heisinger, deputy general manager of the Jets, who made other phone calls.
“I had to contact Rick’s grandmother and his father and then get final approval from people who know Nate Thompson better than we do; people like Bieksa and Ben Chiarot, ”admitted the leader.
Thus, the main interested party has decided to wear the 11, a number that will allow him to continue his beautiful story of sobriety.
“It’s flattering and beyond me a bit,” said Thompson. Jason, Zinger and all of those guys think it’s okay for me to wear an 11. I’m grateful for that and it’s gratifying to see that they think of me so positively knowing that number means a lot. «