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Title - Chris Savard
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What's in a number?
Chris Savard

Am I the only one that remembers Nolan initially wearing #88 in Quebec?

Cornwall - Feb. 25, 2011 - I have always had an interest in jersey numbers and it could be successfully argued that I am a bit goofy when it comes to paying attention to this sort of thing. For me, it started when I was a young boy following the Cornwall Royals and paying attention to who wore what number.

I remember Doug Gilmour wearing #19 as a rookie and eventually switching over to #9 when it became available. Gilmour was drafted by the St. Louis Blues and I remember him wearing #18 there before he switched to #9. Then he wore #39 for his years with the Flames in Calgary before switching to his familiar #93 in Toronto, New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal. He played his final NHL game with the Leafs in 2003 wearing #93.

I have been a hockey and football jersey collector for years and most of my collection consists of jerseys bearing the #30 or #12. These were my favourite numbers when I played sports. Montreal Expo great Tim Raines was my inspiration for #30 and former Cornwall Royal Dan Daoust is the reason for #12. Even though Daoust went on to wear #8 for the Habs and #24 for the Buds, neither of those numbers have held much appeal to me.

Daoust reached out to me as an 11 year old Royals’ fan and really treated me like a king. I guess that should be the topic for a future column.

I find this time of year around the trade deadline, particularly interesting to see what numbers the traded players will end up wearing. I am always intrigued and it would be neat to know what the new player has to “pay” to get his number. There are countless examples of this happening.

Penguins forward James Neal will wear #18 after coming over from Dallas thanks to a switch to 16 by Chris Conner. Last year, Garnet Exelby gave up his #3 to current Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf. Nik Antropov wears #80 today after he gave up #11 to Owen Nolan when he was traded to the Leafs. Am I the only one that remembers Nolan initially wearing #88 in Quebec?

Tomas Kaberle couldn’t wear his familiar #15 in Boston because that number is retired in honour of Milt Schmidt. Alex Goligoski couldn’t get his #3 in Dallas because it was taken by Stephane Robidas, so he will wear #33. Alexei Kovalev will not sport his usual #27 in Pittsburgh as it is already being worn by Craig Adams. Kovalev will wear #72.

NHL JERSEY NUMBERS THIS YEAR is a fun site if you enjoy reading hockey stats and researching trivial items. I recently spent a bit of time on this site and found that there are currently only five numbers that have not been worn by an NHL player this year - #56, #92, #95, #98 and #99. The last one is obvious as it was retired league wide when Wayne Gretzky retired.

There are nine players who have been the only NHL player to wear a certain number. They are #62 Mario Bliznak, #66 TJ Brodie, #76 PK Subban #78 Benn Ferriero, #80 Nik Antropov, #82 Tomas Kopecky, #84 Mikhail Grabovski, #87 Sidney Crosby and #88 Patrick Kane.

Daniel Sedin and Ville Leino are just two of players to wear 22 - the most popular number this year. In total 26 players have worn #22 this season with only Buffalo, Calgary, Detroit, Florida, New York Islanders and Tampa Bay not dressing a #22. The only retired #22 is Mike Bossy form his glory days in Long Island.

The #30 has been worn by 17 players this year and they have all been goalies. This number has not been overly popular with skaters but I am sure Habs’ fans will remember Chris Nilan wearing #30 for years. Do Habs’ fans remember Turner Stevenson wearing #30 for a period in the 1990’s? How about Andrei Zyuzin wearing it for over 100 games in Tampa Bay?

Two great goalies have seen their #30 retired – Rogie Vachon in Los Angeles and Mike Vernon in Calgary.

The #12 has been worn by 21 players this year, with the most notable being Eric Staal, Partick Marleau, Tomas Kaberle and Jarome Iginla. Retired #12 jerseys include Sid Abel in Detroit, Yvan Cournoyer and Dickie Moore in Montreal, and Stan Smyl in Vancouver.

I doubt Brian Burke read’s my column or cares about my opinion, but any of Iginla, Staal or Marleau would look pretty good in a blue and white #12.

Only two numbers had been retired by the Cornwall Royals. Jim George’s #16 was retired after he was killed in a car accident and Dale Hawerchuk’s #10 was retired in a fitting ceremony organized by Steve Ouderkirk. Hawerchuk’s #10 had been retired by the Winnipeg Jets, Billy Smith’s #31 has been retired by the Islanders and Doug Gilmour’s #93 has been honoured by the Maple Leafs in the ACC. The Cornwall Colts honoured Dave Ezard by retiring his number 6 after "Eazy" passed away after a battling liver disease.

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So next week when more NHL trades are made, will you pay attention to the new numbers that players are wearing or am I the only goofy one? Click the link below if you would like to share your “jersey number” stories with our readers!

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