Thursday, 17 May 2012

Number Selection

I've been working on a few historical pieces for the upcoming entries, but I'm happy to offer this blog as a soapbox for other writers and fans who want to voice their opinions on whatever topic they find interesting in hockey. I offered up that anyone can send in an article that you've written that you'd like to see on HBIC, and I'd reward the best guest article in May with something decent. Today, we have our first guest entry as Peter S. has contributed a piece that may have you reconsidering your number selection when joining a team.

As you might be aware, there are a lot of numbers that have been retired along the way by various teams. Most of these numbers will undoubtedly see a new rookie advance through the ranks wearing it, so what is a rookie to do? Peter S. has a great suggestion.
Numbers are often an integral part of any sport, and certainly, hockey is no exception. Nowhere is that more evident than Hockey Night in Canada's By the Numbers: From 00 to 99. Today, I would like to focus on one specific number: 91. In the following, you will know why I picked this number and the players who have worn this number in their time in the NHL.

For those who may not know (and I think that's practically everyone), the number I attach the most significance to is 19. Think of all the players who have worn or are wearing this number: Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Joe Thornton, Bryan Trottier, Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards, etc. Many of those players who have had that number have at some point or another, worn the captain's C (Sakic, Yzerman, Toews, and Markus Naslund, among others). But suppose you're breaking into the NHL and that number is taken or retired? What do you do? My answer is simply to switch the numbers around, hence the number 91.

Who has worn 91? The first name many associate with that number is Sergei Fedorov, a long time NHL center who wore that number in Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus, and Washington. He gained his greatest success in 1994 as a Hart Trophy winner and a Selke Trophy winner. On the other end of the success scale: Alexandre Daigle. Drafted first overall by the Ottawa Senators, he would achieve a career high 51 points his first year and match that total in his time with the Minnesota Wild. How much of a stigma is there attached to the number 91 in Ottawa? According to HNIC By the Numbers, when Oleg Saprykin was acquired from the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007, he had to change from 91 in Phoenix to 61 with Ottawa. In an ironic twist of fate, Kyle Turris also wore number 91 in Phoenix before getting traded to Ottawa. He ended up taking number 7 with the Senators.

Everyone knows that Steven Stamkos and John Tavares are making number 91 famous right now, but did you know that before Tavares wore 91 with the Islanders, that Butch Goring wore 91 during the Islanders' Stanley Cup days? When he started in Los Angeles, he wore 19, but could not wear it on Long Island due to Bryan Trottier having that number. Other players who couldn't wear their preferred numbers and settled on 91 include Brad Richards (as a Dallas Star, since 19 is retired for Bill Masterton), Markus Naslund (as a Ranger, since 19 was occupied by Scott Gomez), and Gomez (his first year as a Montreal Canadien, since 19 was retired for Larry Robinson). Other players who have worn 91 inculde Kris Draper with the Winnipeg Jets, Marc Savard with Boston, and Magnus Paajarvi with Edmonton. Jan Caloun, Evgeny Grachev, and Mike Comrie have also worn 91 for a brief time, none of which were particuarly memorable, by any means.

The number 91 doesn't quite have the same significance as 19, but for those who need a number in the event 19 is not available, 91 is your safest bet.
Thanks for the article, Peter!

I'm not saying that #91 isn't a good choice, but there have been many players who has simply swapped the numbers in their chosen two-digit number. Ron Hextall did it when he joined the New York Islanders, so maybe there are more numbers that can be considered aside from your chosen number.

Of course, numbers like 11 and 22 are a little harder to work into a new number, but there are lots of options out there, especially if you're not playing on a storied NHL team.

But what Peter says is true about #19 - it's become increasingly popular thanks to players such as Steve Yzerman, Jonathan Toews, and Joe Thornton. While the vast majority of us, me included, will never play in an NHL game, the choice of #19 might not be an option on a team you're joining at your local rink. Even your kids may find themselves in a quandary when it comes to choosing numbers on their hockey teams if several kids want the same number. If you or your child wants to wear #19, what can you do? Switch the numbers!

Good article, Peter, and thanks for sending it in! If you're interested in sending in an article, please do so by sending it here! The best article, as judged by me, in the month of May will win a prize, so get writing for your chance to win!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

FMM said...

In an all-star game Bryan Trottier wore 61 instead of 19 because someone else had more seniority on the team with the number 19. He picked 61 instead of 91 because he said when you score and put your arms up in the air, the 61 becomes a 19.