A number retirement is the highest honor a sports team can pay to an athlete short of a bronze statue.
With so few people given the honor, the reaction would surely be one of great appreciation and acceptance.
But Glenn “Chico” Resch, the fourth Bulldog in the history of UMD athletics to have his number retired, had an opposite reaction.
“When someone tells you that they’re going to retire your jersey, at first you think, ‘Really? I don’t think I did that much that I deserve that,’” Resch said.
It wasn’t that he was unappreciative of the honor, but rather that he was surprised by it.
“It’s pretty special, totally unexpected,” Resch said. “I must say I was kind of clueless.”
So clueless that UMD’s Athletic Director Josh Berlo was at first unable to tell Resch the good news.
“Josh Berlo was trying to get ahold of me, earlier in the summer, but I had hockey camps and I said ‘Hey I’m coming up here in the fall we’ll meet then,’” Resch said, not expecting much from Berlo beyond some kind words.
The newly retired broadcaster got a call later in the summer from a former teammate and longtime friend, Walt Ledingham.
“Walt Ledingham called and said ‘no, you need to call Josh today, and go up there,” Resch said.
His surprise at having his No. 1 jersey retired reflects his humility. When talking about the jersey retirement, he named several former Bulldog hockey players who he thought deserved to hang in the rafters along with him.
“I think of Dave Longeman who was a great defenseman for the Bulldogs,” Resch said. “(There are) a lot of deserving people, so to be told that you can go into that class, that was pretty overwhelming.”
Resch provided color commentary for New Jersey Devils broadcasts for 18 years before retiring in 2014. He found a career after his playing days speaking to an audience. But he’s apprehensive when he thinks about the speech he will make during the ceremony.
“(I’m) nervous, real nervous,” Resch said. “You know I haven't been really visible at UMD. It’s a first impression for people that have maybe heard about me but have never seen me or heard me.”
His lack of presence in Bulldog Country could be explained by 12 years of playing in the NHL and his even longer broadcasting career on the East Coast. Playing for four different teams, Resch won over 200 games as a goalie and was a Stanley Cup champion with the New York Islanders in 1980.
UMD’s decision to retire his jersey reflects how much of a positive impact he has had on the University of Minnesota Duluth. But his great appreciation for the gesture shows that the feeling is mutual.
“It’s just such an honor to think that they would see fit to hang my jersey in the rafters along with those other guys,” Resch said.
After spending decades on the East Coast, Resch returned to Minnesota with his wife last year, settling in Emily, Minnesota. This means he will be able to visit Duluth more often.
But his first official visit to hang his number in the uppermost reaches of Amsoil Arena will be the most difficult one. Despite his friendly and talkative demeanor, Resch appears relieved that he won’t be in the spotlight for too long.
“There’s a lot of memories and a lot of things you’d like to say, (but) I can’t talk long, there’s a hockey game to be played,” Resch said.