Thursday

NHL Number 29 - Ken Dryden

Ken Dryden didn't have a long NHL career by most standards, playing only eight seasons, all with the Montreal Canadiens.  During that time period however, he shone bright enough to earn himself a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame, where he was inducted in 1983.

Dryden, who was an outstanding college hockey goalie for the Ivy League Cornell Big Red, began playing in the NHL during the 1970-71 season.  That first season, Dryden played in only 6 games, but he won all 6.  Although he didn't play much in the regular season, he played all of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, incredibly winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP.

In his first complete NHL season, 1971-72 (considered his rookie season), Dryden would lead the NHL in wins with 39 in 64 games, with a 2.24 goals against average, good enough to win him the Calder Memorial Trophy.  The following season, Dryden would again lead the NHL in wins with 33, this time in only 54 games played, and would also lead the league in goals against average with 2.26.  That earned him his first Vezina Trophy

Dryden, a Cornell graduate, sat out the 1973-74 season to fulfill requirements for attaining his law degree.  You don't hear too many stories like that in today's age of sports. 

He came back in 1974-75 however, racking up 30 wins with a 2.69 GAA for the Canadiens.  The following season he was again the leage leader in wins and goals against average, this time with a whopping 42 wins and a miniscule 2.03 GAA respectively, in 62 regular season games played.  Hello Vezina Trophy once again. 

Dryden would go on to win the Vezina trophy each of the next three, and his last three NHL, seasons.  He led the leage in 1975-76 with 41 wins in 56 regular season games played, and led the league in GAA in each of his final two NHL seasons. 

When Dryden retired from professional hockey, he went on to become a successful writer, commentator, businessman, and politician. 

Did you know.......Ken Dryden wrote a successful book named The Game?

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Wednesday

NHL Number 28 - Steve Larmer

As a New Jersey Devils fan, I really wanted to select Brian Rafalski as the best NHL athlete to ever wear number 28. But, after recalling Steve Larmer, and checking the stats, I just had to select Larmer here.

Steve Larmer broke into the NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1980-81 season, but he really established himself during the 1982-83 season when he got a chance to prove his skills full-time with the 'Hawks. That first full season in the NHL, Larmer racked up 90 points (43 goals and 47 assists), good enough to win him the Calder Memorial Trophy.

Larmer was known for two things during his time as a winger in the NHL. His goal scoring and his consistency. Larmer scored more than 25 goals for eleven consecutive seasons, and also played in 80 regular season games every season during that same consecutive time period.

Over his 13 NHL seasons, Larmer established a 1.01 point-per-game career mark. Highly respectable stat, and also good enough for top-50 all-time in the NHL.   Larmer has 1,012 career points (441 of which are goals) in 1,006 NHL regular season games played.

Did you know................Steve Larmer played in 884 consecutive games for the Chicago Blackhawks?

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Saturday

Sam Bradford's Rams Jersey Number

Sam Bradford now has his jersey number with the St. Louis Rams.  He will be wearing the same number as a current Hall of Fame quarterback

It seems that the players are getting their jersey numbers assigned, or picked, quicker than usual.

You can already find on eBay, a Sam Bradford St. Louis Rams number 8 jersey.

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NFL Draftee Numbers

Jahvid Best's uniform number will be ?? according to the Detroit Lions website.  Nah, not really, but you can order his Detroit Lions jersey now.  Since they don't know what jersey number he'll be wearing yet, they put a ?? on the jersey with his name in the picture on the site, but will add his jersey number when it becomes available, and then will ship your order.  Read more here.

Eric Berry, the recent selection of the Kansas City Chiefs will be wearing jersey number 29 with his new NFL team. He's wearing this number in honor of his fellow defensive back from Tennessee, Inky Johnson. See the details here.

It looks like the Dallas Cowboys are already bestowing an honor upon their new draft pick, WR Dez Bryant, by giving him a jersey number that carries a lot of cache with the Cowboys faithful. See the details here.

According to the Buffalo Bills official blog, C.J. Spiller has picked his jersey number and it will be 21.

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Friday

NHL Number 26 - Peter Stastny

PETER STASTNY Quebec Nordiques 1988 CCM Vintage Throwback Away Hockey Jersey, 2XLPeter Stastny wouldn't begin playing in the NHL until the age of 24, but he certainly had enough time to make his mark on the league, and to establish a Hall of Fame hockey career. Stastny would play for three NHL teams (Nordiques, Devils and Blues) over 15 seasons.

Stastny would blast onto the NHL scene with the Quebec Nordiques in 1980-81, scoring 109 points (39 goals and 70 assists), to earn himself the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year. How would he follow that season up the next year? By merely scoring 139 points (46 goals and 93 assists). During that 1981-82 sophomore campaign, Stastny would also score 18 points in the NHL playoffs (7 goals and 11 assists) in 12 games.

In fact, Stastny liked scoring so much that he didn't go under the 100 point mark for 6 consecutive seasons, and he only dipped below the 100 point mark because he didn't play a full season in 1986-87. For his career, Stastny would rack up 1,239 points in only 977 games. As of 2010, Stastny was eighth all-time in the NHL in point-per-game (1.27).

An inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998, Stastny's jersey number 26 was previously retired by the Quebec Nordiques. Stastny ranked number 56 on The Hockey News 1998 list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

Did you know..............that Peter Stastny's son Paul Stastny plays in the NHL and also wears the number 26, and that Peter's son Yan has played in the NHL as well?

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Thursday

NHL Number 25 - Joe Nieuwendyk

Joe Nieuwendyk played the majority of his NHL career with the Flames and the Stars, but he would win Stanley Cups with three different NHL teams, in three different decades en route to what I consider a Hall of Fame hockey career.

Nieuwendyk, who played his college hockey at Cornell and had his jersey number 25 retired at that University along with fellow alum Ken Dryden, would begin playing in the NHL during the 1986-87 season at age 20, although he played in a mere 9 games that first season. The following season, which can be considered his true rookie season, Nieuwendyk would score 92 points in 75 games. Of those 92 points, 51 were goals, good enough to put Nieuwendyk in rare company along with Gretzky, Bossy, Ovechkin and Selanne as the one of the only rookies to score more than 50 goals. It was also good enough to earn Nieuwendyk the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year.

Nieuwendyk would follow up his rookie season with another 51 goals during the 1988-89 campaign. One year later, he put up 95 points (45 goals and 50 assists) for the Flames. He would continue to put up strong offensive numbers throughout his NHL career. Over 1,257 games, Nieuwendyk would accumulate 1,126 points, of which 564 were goals and 562 were assists.

He would win the Stanley Cup with the Flames (1989), the Stars (1999), and the Devils (2003). In 1999, he would be awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

In 1995, Nieuwendyk was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership.

Did you know....................that Joe is a cousin of former New York Ranger Jeff Beukeboom?

Read more about Joe Nieuwendyk here

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Wednesday

NHL Number 24 - Bernie Federko

Bernie Federko spent 14 seasons in the NHL, 13 of them wearing the jersey number 24 for the St. Louis Blues.  Federko had a prolific career with the Blues, playing Center, between the 1976-77 and 1988-89 seasons.  He would also play one season with the Red Wings where he inverted his traditional jersey number to wear 42. 

During his 14 NHL seasons, Federko would rack up 1,130 overall points in 1,000 career regular season games.  Of those 1,130 points, 369 were goals with 761 assists. 

Federko, at the time of his retirement, held the all-time St. Louis Blues records for assists and career points.  Federko was in the top ten in assists for the league in 7 of his 14 NHL seasons.  He was also in the top ten in overall points for five of those seasons.  He would go over the 100 point mark in four of his NHL seasons (1980-81, 1983-84, 1984-85 and 1985-86).

Federko's acheivements, primarily with the Blues, were good enough to get him inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002.

Did you know.............that Bernie Federko has a restaurant  named after him in St. Louis?

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Tuesday

NHL Number 23 - Bob Gainey

BOB GAINEY Montreal Canadiens 1986 CCM Throwback Home NHL Hockey Jersey, XLBob Gainey played 16 seasons in the NHL, all with the Montreal Canadiens, and he scored his fair share of points during those years.  But it wasn't scoring points that Bob Gainey was most acclaimed for.  Gainey remains one of the top defensive forwards to ever play the game.

The Frank J. Selke trophy came into existence during the 1977-78 NHL season. It is given to the forward who "demonstrates the most skill in the defensive component of the game". Well, that fit the bill for Bob Gainey. All he did was win that trophy the first four years it was awarded!

Gainey would win the Stanley Cup five times while with the Canadiens (1975-76 through 1978-79 and 1985-86), and would be honored with the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1978-79.

Over his 16 NHL seasons, Gainey would score 501 points (239 goals and 262 assists).

Gainey would be the Montreal Canadiens' captain for the majority of the 1980s, including during their Stanley Cup Championship in 1986.

Bob Gainey had his jersey number 23 retired by the Canadiens, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

Did you know..........Bob Gainey was the General Manager of the Dallas Stars when they won the Stanley Cup in 1999?

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Monday

NHL Number 22 - Mike Bossy

Mike Bossy, who wore number 22 for his entire tenure with the New York Islanders, may not have had a very long NHL career, but it certainly was a productive one! 

If Mike Bossy played for the Rangers or Blackhawks or Canadiens, you'd here his name a lot more often than you do today.  Yeah, he played for a New York team, but not THE New York team.  The Islanders were great when Bossy played for them.  But can you imagine if the greatest player on the New York Rangers won four Stanley Cups in a row?   (The Rangers passed on selecting Mike Bossy in the 1977 NHL draft). 

Mike Bossy had a tough time adjusting to the NHL as a rookie in 1977-78.  Ha!  He only scored 53 goals and had 91 points in 73 games played!  Bossy gave an encore the next season, racking up 126 points with 69 goals.  Bossy would go on to score over 100 points six more times, with his high water mark coming in 1981-82 when he had 147 points.

Mike Bossy is the All-Time NHL Goals-Per-Game leader with 0.762 career goals-per-game played.
  • 4-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 1,126 career points scored (in only 752 games)
  • 573 career goals
  • 1982 Conn Smythe Trophy winner
  • 3-time Lady Byng Trophy winner
  • 1978 Calder Trophy winner
  • 2-time NHL goals leader (1979 and 1981)
  • 1991 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
  • Jersey #22 retired by the New York Islanders
Did you know................Bossy was retired from the NHL as a player at the age of 30?

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Sunday

NHL Number 21 - Stan Mikita

Stan Mikita is one of the iconic NHL players like Steve Yzerman, who played his entire lengthy career for one hockey team, and is closely identified with that team, in his case, the Chicago Blackhawks. He wore jersey number 21 for his entire tenure with the Blackhawks.
Mikita began his NHL career with Chicago during the 1958-59 season, but played in only three games that season, at age 18. He would play in 67 games during his sophomore NHL season, but wouldn't break out offensively until his third year in the league, 1960-61, when he scored 53 points in 66 games.

That was the beginning of a stellar 22-year NHL career, where Mikita would lead the league in scoring four times and would finish second only to Gordie Howe in career points scored.

  • 1,467 career points (in 1,394 games)
  • 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1967, 1968)
  • 2-time Lady Byng Trophy winner (1967, 1968)
  • 4-time Art Ross Trophy winner (1964, 1965, 1967 and 1968)
  • 1961 Stanley Cup Champion
  • 1983 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
  • Lester Patrick Trophy winner (1976)
Did you know.....Stan Mikita is the only player to win the Hart Memorial Trophy, Lady Byng Trophy and Art Ross Trophy in the same season?

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Saturday

NHL Number 20 - Luc Robitaille

LUC ROBITAILLE Los Angeles Kings 1987 CCM Vintage Throwback Home NHL Hockey Jersey, XLThe best NHL player to ever wear number 20, is a player I remember fondly as one of the best goal scorers of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Luc Robitaille was taken in the 9th round of the 1984 NHL draft, but proved himself worthy of a mucher higher pick during his rookie NHL season in 1986-87 when he scored 84 points in 79 games played (45 goals and 39 assists).

In Robitaille's first eight NHL seasons, all spent with the Los Angeles Kings, he would score more than 40 goals in each of those seasons. His high-water mark came in 1992-93 when he put 63 goals in net and had 125 points overall for that season.

Robitaille would go on to have stints with the Rangers, Penguins and Red Wings, but he's identified with the Kings. The Kings, in fact, retired his jersey number 20. For his NHL career, here is just a bit of what Luc Robitaille accomplished.
  • 1,394 career points
  • 668 career goals (NHL record for a left wing)
  •  1987 Calder Memorial Trophy winner
  • 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Los Angeles Kings leader in goals scored (577)
Did you know...........the team which scores the most goals each season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League wins the Luc Robitaille Trophy?

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Friday

NHL Number 19 - Steve Yzerman

NHL Number 19 is another tough pick.  Two players who merit strong consideration here are Joe Sakic, who is synonymous with the Colorado Avalanche after beginning his career with that franchise when it was the Quebec Nordiques, and Bryan Trottier, longtime New York Islander, who was a member of that franchises' 4 consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. 

My pick here however is the man they called "Stevie Y", Steve Yzerman, who played his entire illustrious NHL hockey career with the Detroit Red Wings.  Also referred to as just "The Captain" in Detroit, Yzerman would be given the honor and responsibility of wearing the C on his jersey at the age of 21 in his fourth NHL season.  Yzerman was one of the first young players to wear the C, which is now more commonplace (see Sidney Crosby, etc.). 

Yzerman became a Detroit icon, playing his entire NHL career of 22 seasons with the Red Wings.  During that almost 1/4 century timespan, he would rack up quite a resume.
  • 1755 career points (692 goals and 1063 assists)
  •  6 consecutive seasons of more than 100 points (1987-88 through 1992-93)
  • Career-high 155 points in 1988-89 (only "The Great One" and Mario Lemieux have scored more)
  • 3-time Captain of a Stanley Cup Championship team
  • 1997-98 Conn Smythe Trophy winner
  • 1988-89 Lester B. Pearson Award winner
  • 1999-2000 Frank J. Selke Trophy winner
  • 2002-2003 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy winner
  • Led league in even-strength goals in 1988-89 (45)
  • Led league in short-handed goals three times (1989-90, '91-'92 and '92-93)
  • 2009 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
  • Number 19 retired by the Red Wings
(For more of Yzerman's statistics check out his page on Hockey-Reference.)

Did you know........Yzerman was the youngest ever NHL All-Star at age 18?

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Thursday

NHL Number 18 - Denis Savard

DENIS SAVARD Chicago Blackhawks 1988 CCM Throwback Home NHL Hockey Jersey, XLA Chicago Blackhawk for the majority of his career (although he played briefly with the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning), Savard was so well respected by the Blackhawks management, as well as their fans, that they retired his jersey number 18. 

Savard, who was taken third overall in the 1980 NHL draft, would begin his NHL career at the young age of 19, when he would score 75 points in 76 games at center, to go along with a plus/minus of +27 during the 1980-81 season. 

Over his next seven seasons with the Blackhawks, Savard would not score less than 90 points.  His high mark offensively came during the 1987-88 NHL season when he was credited with 131 points (44 goals and 87 assists).  

For his career, Savard scored 1,338 points (473 goals and 865 assists) in 1,196 games played over seventeen NHL seasons.  He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000. 

Did you know.....Savard had three assists in his first NHL game with the Blackhawks?

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Wednesday

NHL Number 17 - Jarri Kuri


While the honor of being the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 17 could very well be bestowed upon Ilya Kovalchuk at some point, right now that honor belongs to Jarri Kuri.

Kuri began his professional hockey career with a Finnish team, but soon thereafter began playing in the NHL for the Edmonton Oilers.  He blasted onto the NHL scene as a 20-year old, scoring 75 points in 75 games as an NHL rookie.  Kuri would steadily increase his annual point total over the next four seasons going to 86, 104, 113 and then 135 points in 1984-85 (when he had 71 goals and 64 assists in only 73 games played). 

The following NHL season (1985-86), Kuri would lead the league in goals with 68, scoring 131 points overall.  To say he continued to improve his game would be a large understatement.  Some of Kuri's other NHL accomplishments:
  • 5-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 1,398 NHL career points (in 1,251 games played)
  • Lady Byng Trophy winner (1984-85)
  • Two-time goals-per-game leader (1984-85 and 1985-86)
  • 601 career goals (Top 20 all-time)
  • 6 times in annual top 10 league point scorers
  • Two-time game-winning-goal annual leader (1984-85 and 1985-86)
  •  2001 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
Did you know.....................Kuri is the first Finn inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame?

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Tuesday

NHL Number 16 - Marcel Dionne

Marcel Dionne Los Angeles Kings Autographed Pro NHL Ice Hockey JerseyThere is no shortage of competition for the best NHL athlete to ever wear the number 16, and as such, this will be a controversial pick.  The most popular pick would probably be Bobby Clarke of the Flyers, who was named the highest of the choices here, on The Hockey News' list of 100 Greatest NHL Players in 1998.  Not my choice here though.  Other great NHL players who can and should be considered here are Pat LaFontaine, Brett Hull, Trevor Linden, Henri Richard, and Michel Goulet.  But my pick is a player who excelled for the Los Angeles Kings in the late 1970s and the 1980s:  Marcel Dionne. 

Although he began playing in the NHL with the Detroit Red Wings, for his first four seasons (where he didn't wear number 16), he would become recognized as a great NHL Center with the Los Angeles Kings, for whom he would play 11 and 3/4 seasons (wearing number 16), before finishing his career by playing parts of three seasons with the New York Rangers (wearing number 16).

Dionne would score more than 100 points eight times in his career, and would also finish in the top 5 in NHL scoring eight times in his NHL tenure.  For three consecutive seasons (1978-79 through 1980-81), Marcel Dionne would score more than 130 points in each season.  1979-80 was his strongest of the three, when he put up 137 points (53 goals and 84 assists).

Although Dionne excelled at assisting his teammates in scoring, he could certainly also put the puck in the net himself.  Dionne had five years where he scored more than 50 goals.  Over 18 total NHL seasons, Dionne would play in 1,348 NHL regular season games, while scoring 1,771 points

Dionne was both a respectful and respected player, twice winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy (1974-75 and 1976-77).   He would also win the Lester B. Pearson Award twice (1978-79 and 1979-80), and the Art Ross Trophy as the league's top scorer in 1979-80. 

Dionne was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.

Did you know.............Dionne was the 2nd overall pick in the 1971 NHL draft?

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Monday

NHL Number 15 - Milt Schmidt

For number 15, I really wanted to select one of my favorite NJ Devils, either Jamie Langenbrunner or John MacLean. After looking at the stats and accolades however, the best NHL player to ever wear number 15 has to be Milt Schmidt.

Schmidt, a longtime Boston Bruin center, finished in the top ten in NHL scoring five times during his career. At a time when the scoring totals were much lower than they are today, Schmidt led the NHL in scoring with 52 points in 1939-40.

At the age of 32, during the 1950-51 NHL season, Milt Schmidt would rack up 61 points (22 goals and 39 assists) in 62 games played. That production would lead Milt to winning the Hart Memorial Trophy that year. Over an NHL career spanning 16 years and 776 games, Schmidt would score 575 points (229 goals and 346 goals). 

In a hockey career interupted by WWII, Schmidt would win two Stanley Cup Championships and play in four All-Star games. 

Did you know.............The Hockey News named Schmidt number 27 on it's list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players in 1998? 

See more of Schmidt's statistics on Hockey-Reference.com.

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Saturday

NHL Number 14 - Theo Fleury

As a New Jersey Devils fan, Theo Fleury, when he was playing with the Rangers, could really get under my skin. That doesn't change the fact that I think he's the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 14.

Beginning his career with the Calgary Flames in the 1988-89 NHL season, Fleury would establish himself as an offensive force, twice scoring more than 100 points with the Flames.

Any hockey player who has racked up more points than games they've played, especially over 15 seasons at the highest professional level, is worthy of consideration as the best. And Theo Fleury has done that, with 1,088 points in 1,084 games played. Fleury also racked up quite a few penalty minutes with 1,840.

Although Fleury played with the Avalanche, Rangers and Blackhawks, he'll always be remembered for his stellar years with the Calgary Flames. His finest statistical year offensively came at the age of 22 in his third season when he scored 51 goals, had 53 assists and led the league in plus/minus with a +48.

Did you know......that Fleury played professional hockey in Northern Ireland?

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Thursday

NHL Number 13 - Mats Sundin


Mats Sundin was drafted first overall in the 1989 NHL draft by the Quebec Avalanche Nordiques.  He would begin his NHL career with Quebec in the 1990-91 season, when he scored 59 points as a rookie.  Sundin would play three more seasons with the Nordiques before being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He would spend the majority of his NHL career in Toronto, playing with the Leafs between the 1994-95 and 2007-08 seasons.

As a large (6' 5", 230 lb.) center, Sundin was able to remain durable on the ice, playing in at least 70 games per season for all but two of his 18 NHL seasons.  He did this while remaining no stranger to the penalty box, racking up a career 1,093 penalty minutes.

Sundin was also no stranger to the back of the hockey net, as he put 564 pucks in goal during his 18 NHL seasons.  Pair this with his 785 assists, and you have his tremendous total of 1,349 career points.

Sundin's strongest season offensively came in 1992-93, when he had 114 points (47 goals and 67 assists).

Did you know............Mats Sundin is the first European born player to be named Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

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NHL Number 12 - Jarome Iginla

Jarome Iginla, longtime right winger for the Calgary Flames, has proven himself to be one of the NHL's elite, as evidenced from his career scoring stats.  From his first full NHL season in 1996-97, hrough the 2009-10 season to-date, Iginla has racked up 920 points (441 goals and 479 assists). 

Iginla's strongest statistical season came in 2007-08 when he scored 50 goals and 48 assists for a 98 point total.  

  • 2-time Maurice Richard trophy (NHL's leading goal scorer - 2002 and 2004)
  • 2002 Art Ross Trophy winner
  • 2002 Lester B. Pearson award winner
  • 1997 All-Rookie Team
  • 2004 NHL Foundation Award winner
  • 2004 King Clancy Memorial trophy winner
  • Flames All-Time Scoring Leader
Iginla is the 18th captain in the Flames history (14th in Calgary Flames history). 

Did you know.............Jarome Iginla made his NHL debut for the Flames in the 1996 Stanley Cup Playoffs?

Read more about Jarome in the extensive Wikipedia entry about him.

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Wednesday

NHL Number 11 - Mark Messier

MARK MESSIER New York Rangers 1994 CCM Vintage Throwback Home Hockey Jersey, 2XL
Can there really be any discussion about who might be the best to ever wear number 11 in the NHL?  It's Mark Messier, an icon of both the Edmonton Oilers and the New York Rangers, who both, by the way, retired his jersey number 11.

Messier began his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers at age 19 during the 1979-80 season.  Little did anyone know at that time, that Messier would play a quarter of a century at the highest professional level of hockey in the World. 

We can take a look at all of Messier's accomplishments, and we will, but what it comes down to is this:  if you had to pick players for a team to win one game, you'd begin that team with Mark Messier.  He is the epitome of a "clutch player". 

Some of Messier's accomplishments:
  • 1,887 career points
  • 694 goals
  • 1,193 assists
  • 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1989-90 and 1991-92)
  • 2-time Lester B. Pearson award winner (1989-90 and 1991-92)
  • Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 2007
  • 6-time Stanley Cup Champion
MARK MESSIER Edmonton Oilers 1990 CCM Vintage Throwback Away NHL Hockey Jersey, 2XLMessier, of course, also captained both the Oilers and Rangers to Stanley Cup Championships. 

You can check out Messier's Top 10 NHL moments, by one account, here:



Did you know..................Mark Messier not only played in the NHL for Edmonton, but that he was born there as well?

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NHL Number 10 - Guy Lafleur

GUY LAFLEUR Montreal Canadiens 1973 CCM Vintage Throwback Away Hockey Jersey, XLA member of five Stanley Cup Championship teams, Guy Lafleur played 17 productive seasons in the NHL, all while wearing the jersey number 10.  (I hope my Canadian readers will forgive me for the use of "jersey" instead of "sweater" in these posts!) 

Lafleur began his NHL career with the Canadiens at the age of 20 during the 1971-72 season.  He would score an impressive 64 points that rookie season (29 goals and 35 assists).  Lafleur would continue to produce for "Les Habs", with a streak of 6 consecutive 100 point or more seasons, between the 1974-75 season and the 1979-80 season.  He was the league leader in points for three of those seasons (1975-76 through 1977-78).  

Lafleur was a Montreal Canadien.  He went into the Hall of Fame as a Canadien.  Although he did return subsequently to play one season for the Rangers (and the fans adored him), and two for the Quebec Avalanche Nordiques.  He contributed for these two teams in his comeback, but to hockey fans, he'll always be a Montreal Canadien.  And by the way.....he wore number 10 while with the Rangers and Nordiques as well.

Some of Guy's career totals:

  • 1,353 career points
  • 560 goals
  • 793 assists
  • 1988 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee
  • Led Canadiens all-time in points
  • 3-time Art Ross Trophy winner (1976, 1977 and 1978)
  • 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1977 and 1978)
  • 3-time Lester B. Pearson award winner (1976, 1977 and 1978)
  • Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1977)
Did you know...................Lafleur has the nickname of "Le Blonde Demon", or "The Blond Demon"?

For more about Guy Lafleur check out the Wikipedia entry about him.

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Tuesday

NHL Number 9 - Gordie Howe

GORDIE HOWE Detroit Red Wings 1940's CCM Vintage Throwback Hockey Jersey, MEDIUM
Some people assert that Maurice Richard, Bobby Hull, and considering all sports, Ted Williams, is thegreatest ever to wear number 9.  They were all great, no doubt.  But with respect given to the other greats to wear the number 9, THE GREATEST to ever wear the number 9, is no doubt, Gordie Howe

If we wanted to list all of Gordie Howe's hockey accomplishments, you'd have to scroll for several hours on the page to get to the end.  So, instead, let's just take a look at some of the most outstanding accomplishments of Mr. Howe.

  • 6-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner as NHL MVP
  • 6-time Art Ross Trophy winner as NHL scoring leader
  • 1,850 career points
  • 801 career goals
  • 1,049 career assists
  • 4 consecutive seasons leading the NHL in scoring
  • Played in 23 All-Star games
  • Scored 41 points as a 51 year old in the NHL
  • 4-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • Hockey Hall of Fame inductee in 1972
NHL Legends 7: Gordie Howe White Jersey

It also seems that another greatest ever to wear their jersey number thinks that Howe is the greatest to ever play in the NHL. 

Did you know.................Howe played professional hockey at age 70,  for one game, with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL?

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NHL Number 8 - Alexander Ovechkin

Alex Ovechkin White Reebok NHL Premier Washington Capitals Jersey - XX-LargeI really wanted to pick a classic hockey player here, like Cam Neely. But I gotta go with Alex Ovechkin. In a short time span, he quickly established himself as one of the best to ever take to the NHL ice, and the best to ever wear the jersey number 8.

In his first five NHL seasons, Ovechkin has gone over the 100 point threshold four times. In fact, in his rookie season playing in the NHL, he scored 106 points. Yes, as a rookie........at 20 years of age.

Ovechkin, in establishing a rivalry with Sidney Crosby, has staked a claim as the best NHL scorer. He has twice led the league in goals scored, with 65 and 56 goals in 2007-08 and 2008-09 respectively.

And is Ovechkin ever exciting to watch put the puck in the net?  Take a look at some of his "best"' goals, with thanks to ESPN, here:





Did you know.............that Ovechkin has led the league in shots on goal in each of his first five NHL seasons?
UPDATE:  Ovechkin has scored more than 50 goals for the 4th season in his career as of 2010. 

Number 8 in Other Sports

NFL Number 8
MLB Number 8

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NHL Number 7 - Phil Esposito

Phil Esposito didn't wear number 7 for his entire NHL career, but he did wear it for a large portion of his career, and what a career it was!

Esposito's NHL career spanned the years 1963 to 1981, during which time he played center for the Blackhawks, Bruins and Rangers. How productive of a career did Esposito have? Well, when he retired from the NHL, he was second only to Gordie Howe in career total points and goals (he ended up with 1,590 points and 717 goals).

"Espo", as some of his fans called him, was a dominantly prolific scoring center, especially during his time with the Boston Bruins. While wearing the black and gold, Espo would lead the league in goals scored for six consecutive seasons (1969-70 through 1974-75). He also led the league in points scored five separate times while with the Bruins, putting up a gaudy 152 points in the 1970-71 season, when he matched his goal and assist totals with 76 each.

Phil Esposito would win the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the league's MVP, twice (in 1968-69 and 1973-74, when he had 126 and 145 points respectively). He was, of course, also a Stanley Cup Champion twice, and an inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.

Did you know..............Phil Esposito was General Manager for both the New York Rangers and the Tampa Bay Lightning?

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Monday

NHL Athlete Number 6 - Phil Housley

PHIL HOUSLEY Buffalo Sabres 1988 CCM Vintage Throwback Home Hockey JerseyPhil Housley played a durable 21 seasons in the NHL, for several teams, and wore number 6 for the large majority of those 21 seasons.  He is generally considered one of the best American-born defensemen to ever play in the NHL.

During his NHL tenure, Housley wore the jerseys, if you're Canadian you might say "sweaters", of the following teams:  Buffalo Sabres, Winninpeg Jets, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Washington Capitals, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs.  Playing in 1,495 games, he racked up 1,232 points, of which 338 were goals and 894 were assists.

Housley is a member of both the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame.  His membership in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is pending.

Did you know.............Housley began playing in the NHL at 18 years of age?  

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NHL Athlete Number 5 - Denis Potvin


Denis Potvin wore number 5 for the New York Islanders between the 1973-74 and 1987-88 seasons.  He played so well wearing that number that he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991 and his jersey number 5 was retired by the New York Islanders. 

DENIS POTVIN New York Islanders 1983 CCM Vintage Throwback Away Hockey Jersey, MEDIUMWhen you talk about the best defensemen to ever take to the NHL ice, Denis Potvin's name has to be front and center in the conversation.  Beginning his career with the Islanders at 20 years of age (he was drafted at the minimum age of 20 with the first overall pick in the 1973 NHL draft), Potvin made an immediate impact during his rookie season with the Isles, scoring 54 points during the 1973-74 season (17 goals, 37 assists). 

Potvin would increase his point total over the next two seasons going to 76 and then 98 points in his third NHL season.  He would finish his career, playing only with the Islanders, with 1,052 points (310 goals, 742 assists). 

As for awards, Potvin would win the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenseman, three times (1975-76, 1977-78 and 1978-79), and would be runner-up once, to a guy you might have heard of named Bobby Orr.  He was also awarded the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year in 1973-74. 

Potvin was, of course, a key member of the Islanders' four straight Stanley Cup Championships in the early 1980s. 

Did you know........Potvin's number 5 was the first number retired by the New York Islanders?

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Saturday

NHL Athlete Number 4 - Bobby Orr

BOBBY ORR Boston Bruins 1972 CCM Vintage Throwback Away NHL Hockey Jersey, LargeNumber 4 caused quite a bit of controversy in the comments when the selection was made for the best overall professional athlete to ever wear the jersey number 4.

This is an easy one when it comes to hockey however. As much as I'd like to name the best number 4 as my all-time favorite New Jersey Devil, Scott Stevens, I can't do it here. Number 4 IS Bobby Orr.

A 1979 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, Orr was limited to only 12 NHL seasons due to injuries. What did Orr accomplish in those 12 NHL seasons? Why, only this:
  • 915 career points
  • Twice led the league in points ('69-'70 and '74-'75) as a DEFENSEMAN!
  • 645 career assists
  • 8-time Norris Trophy winner
  •  3-time Hart Trophy winner
  • 2-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner
  • 1966-67 Calder Trophy winner
  • 6-time plus/minus league leader
  • 5-time assists league leader
  • 9-time All Star (8-time 1st team)
  • 2-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 1974-75 Lester B. Pearson Award

Did you know.....................Bobby Orr is the youngest NHL player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (he was 31 years old at the time of his induction)?

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Thursday

NHL Athlete Number 3 - Pierre Pilote

A 1975 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Pierre Pilote, longtime defenseman for the Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs, is the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 3. Although I would have liked to list one of my favorite NHLers of all-time, Ken Daneyko, here as the best to wear number 3 (Daneyko's number 3 is retired by the New Jersey Devils), the choice here has to be Pilote. Pilote wore the jersey number 3 between the years 1958 and 1968 with the Blackhawks (he played from the 1955-56 season to the 1968-69 season).

Over 14 NHL seasons (13 of which were spent with the Blackhawks), Pilote would rack up 498 points as a defenseman, 418 of which were assists. During his 14 seasons, Pilote would wind up winning the Norris trophy 3 times (1963 - 1965) and would be a runner up 3 more times.

Pilote would also rack up 61 points in the NHL playoffs, 53 of which were assists.

The Hockey News has listed Pilote as number 59 on their list of 100 greatest NHL players.
Did you know.....that Pilote and Keith Magnuson, are both recognized with their jersey number 3 retired by the Chicago Blackhawks?

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