Saturday

NHL Number 39 - Dominik Hasek

"The Dominator", Dominik Hasek, one of the greatest NHL goaltenders ever, is also the greatest NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 39.   Wearing the same hockey mask that I wore playing street hockey as a kid, Hasek would contort his body in ways previously unseen in order to block whatever puck tried to enter his domain, the net behind him.

Hasek began his NHL career with a brief two-season stint with the Chicago Blackhawks.  It was with the Buffalo Sabres though, that he established himself as an elite NHL goalie.  Hasek began playing with the Sabres in 1992-93 at the not-so-young-for-an-NHL-goalie age of 28.  That season, Hasek played 28 games in net for Buffalo, garnering wins in eleven of them. 

In 1993-93, Hasek would play the majority of the Sabres' regular season games in net, 58 in all.  He would get 30 wins that season, leading the NHL in save percentage at .930, GAA at a miniscule 1.95 and shutouts with 7 blanks. 

Hasek would stumble a bit in the wins column the next few seasons, as the Sabres struggled as a team, but he was his usual stellar self everywhere else.  In fact, Hasek led the NHL in save percentage for the next five consecutive seasons. 

A member of the Sabres through the 2000-01 season, Hasek would become a Detroit Red Wing for 2001-02.  At age 37, Hasek would lead the NHL in wins with 41 (in 65 games) in his first season as a Red Wing.  He would continue to play in the NHL through age 43 (spending one season with the Ottawa Senators in that time span).

Since his second season with the Sabres in 1992-93, through the 2007-08 NHL season, Hasek never had a save percentage below .900 and never had a GAA above 2.83.  Kinda good, don't ya think?

Some of Hasek's NHL accomplishment highlights:
  • 6-time Vezina Trophy Winner
  • 2-time Hart Memorial Trophy Winner
  • 3-time William Jennings Trophy Winner
  • Number 1 All-Time in NHL Career Save Percentage (.922)
Did you know................Hasek also played inline hockey in Europe?

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Monday

NHL Number 38 - Pavol Demitra

ST. LOUIS Blues NHL PAVOL DEMITRA Poster Hockey Saint - 24" x 36"Pavol Demitra, the Czechoslovakian born left-winger, is the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 38.  Demitra has worn jersey number 38 for the majority of his 16 NHL seasons (through 2010), with the exception of three years spent with the Senators when he wore number 78.

Although Demitra began playing in the NHL at age 19 during the 1993-94 season, he got the chance to start for the majority of a season during the 1997-98 campaign with the St. Louis Blues.  That season, Demitra would play in 61 games, tallying 52 points and a very respectable 11 in the plus/minus column. 

Demitra would show that he was in the NHL to stay, the following season, when he would score more points (89), than regular season games played (81).  Although Demitra could certainly shoot the biscuit (he had an impressive 10 game winning goals in 1998-99), he proved his mettle setting up his teammates, assisting them in putting 52 pucks in the net. 

Demitra would continue to produce for the Blues throughout his tenure with them, leading the league with 10 game winning goals in 2001-02, and tallying 93 points during the 2002-03 season. 

Over his 16 seasons in the NHL, during which time he has also spent seasons with the Kings, Wild and Canucks, Demitra has scored 304 goals and 464 assists in 847 regular season games.  Demitra also has 59 career playoff points, won the 1999-00 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, is 56th all-time in the NHL in game-winning goals, and is 99th all-time in NHL points-per-game (0.91).

Did you know....................Pavol Demitra had only 8 penalty minutes in 71 games played during 1999-00?

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Sunday

NHL Number 37 - Olaf Kolzig

Olaf, "Olie the Goalie", Kolzig, played 17 seasons in the NHL primarily for the Washington Capitals, establishing himself as one of the finest netminders to take to the ice. 

Kolzig began his NHL career in 1989-90, but it wouldn't be until the 1997-98 season that he got his chance to start in goal on a regular basis for the Caps.  Olie's first full season in net was a strong one in Washington.  He played in 64 games, getting the official win in 33 of those games.  It was quite possibly his best season ever, as he would save 92 percent of the shots taken against him, with a low 2.20 goals-against-average. 

He would have another very strong campaign two seasons later when he would rack up an impressive 41 wins to go with a  league leading 1,794 saves, a .917 save percentage and a 2.24 GAA. 

Kolzig would continue to perform well in net for his Capitals during the remainder of his career as he was peppered with shots through the 2007-08 season.  Kolzig finished out his NHL career the following year with a brief stint in net for the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

For his career, Kolzig would put up the following statistics:

  • 303 regular season wins (22nd all-time as of 2010)
  • .906 regular season save percentage
  • 2.71 regular season GAA
  • 18,233 regular season saves (10th all-time as of 2010)
  • 1999-00 Vezina Trophy winner
  • 11th all-time in shots against (20,118)
Did you know.............Olaf Kolzig was born in South Africa? 

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Thursday

NHL Number 36 - Jussi Jokinen

In only five short seasons in the NHL (through 2009-10), Jussi Jokinen has made a name for himself as a valuable offensive contributor to each of the three NHL teams he has played for.

Hailing from Finland, Jokinen was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 2001 NHL draft. He would play 2 and 2/3 seasons with the Stars. In his rookie season, Jokinen racked up a very respectable 55 points (17 goals and 38 assists), quickly proving his offensive skill.

In 2007-08, Jussi was traded from the Stars to the Tampa Bay Lightning, where he would continue to set his teammates up with prime scoring opportunities. After finishing out that season, and playing half of the 2008-09 season with Tampa Bay, Jokinen was again traded, this time to the Carolina Hurricanes.

Jokinen has remained with the Hurricanes through the 2009-10 season. 2009-10 may be his most formidable in the NHL to-date, as Jokinen racked up 65 points, and scored his single-season high goal total of 30.

Over his five NHL seasons to-date, Jokinen has accumulated 237 regular season points in 387 games.  In 27 playoff games, he has scored 15 points (9 goals and 6 assists). 

Did you know................Jussi Jokinen ranked 8th overall in the NHL in shooting percentage during the 2009-10 season? 

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Wednesday

NHL Number 27 - Frank Mahovlich

This pick could have went in a number of different directions. The question of who's the best to ever wear number 27 in the NHL wasn't answered through an online poll. So, I'll be making an educated guess at this one. After reviewing, and re-reviewing the candidates, I've selected Toronto Maple Leaf great Frank Mahovlich.

Frank Mahovlich played 18 NHL seasons, primarily with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and at left wing, but also spending time with the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. Mahovlich began playing with the Leafs during the 1956-57 season, but participated in only 3 regular season games that year. His rookie season effectively became the 1957-58 campaign, for which he would win the Calder Memorial Trophy, scoring 20 goals that rookie season. (This was at a time with much stiffer general competition in the NHL, due to the much smaller size of the league).
For his NHL career, Mahovlich would accomplish the following:
  • 1,103 career NHL regular season points
  • 533 career NHL regular season goals
  • 570 career NHL regular season assists 
  • 6-time Stanley Cup Champion
  • 15-time All-Star
  • 31st all-time in NHL regular season goals (as of this writing)
  • 51st all-time in NHL regular season goals-per-game (as of this writing)
  • 51 career NHL playoff goals
  • 67 career NHL playoff assists

Frank Mahovlich was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981.

Did you know.........that Frank Mahovlich is also a Toronto, Ontario Senator? 

See more information on Frank Mahovlich's NHL career numbers here.

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Sunday

NHL Number 35 - Tony Esposito

Tony Esposito being named the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 35, makes the second Esposito on this list, as his brother was named the best to ever wear sweater number 7

Tony Esposito began his career with a very brief stint for the Montreal Canadiens, but he made his mark in the NHL as a goalie for the Chicago Blackhawks.  In his first full season in net for the Blackhawks, Esposito would lead the league in wins with 38 and shutouts with 15, in 1969-70.  How would he follow that season up?  Well, he'd lead the league in wins again in 1970-71 with 35. 

In 15 seasons with Chicago, and a very brief single season stint with the Habs,  Esposito would accomplish the following playing behind the goalie mask.
  • 423 career wins
  • 2.92 regular season GAA
  • 76 shutouts
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner for 1969-70
  • 3-time Vezina Trophy winner (1969-70, 1971-72 and 1973-74)
  • 1988 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee


Did you know........Tony Esposito played collegiate hockey for Michigan Tech?

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Saturday

NHL Number 34 - John Vanbiesbrouck

John Vanbiesbrouck autographed Hockey Jersey (New York Rangers)John Vanbiesbrouck, referred to by many of his fans as "Johnny V" or "Beezer", played in net for several NHL teams, however he is most closely associated with the New York Rangers.

 
Vanbiesbrouck, hailing from Detroit, Michigan, was taken 72nd in the 1981 NHL entry draft by the New York Rangers.   It wasn't until the 1984-85 NHL season however, that Beezer got a chance to play in net full-time for the blueshirts.  It was a rough start, at least statistically.  In 42 games behind the mask, there were only 12 wins credited to Vanbiesbrouck. 

As rough as that full-time rookie season was, the following season was bright.  All Beezer did in the 1985-86 season was lead the NHL in wins with 31, with a very respectable 3.32 GAA.  Vanbiesbrouck would be a mainstay in net for the New York Rangers through the 1992-93 season.  At that point, a young guy you might have heard of, Mike Richter, came along and stole the show, becoming the Rangers primary goaltender. 

Beezer was traded to Vancouver by the Rangers, but never played there, as he was claimed by the Florida Panthers in the 1993 expansion draft.  In just three seasons with the Panthers, Beezer took them to the Stanley Cup Championships.  The Panthers would drop that Championship series to the Avalanche, however Johnny V would garner 12 wins, with a .932 save percentage and a miniscule 2.25 GAA in the playoff campaign. 

For the remainder of his career, through the 2001-02 season spent with the Panthers, Islanders, Devils and Flyers - not in that order, Beezer never had a season with more than a 3.00 GAA.  In fact, for his career, his GAA was 2.98.  Some more career marks.........

  • 374 career wins
  • 22,176 career saves (5th all-time, as of this writing)
  • 40 career shutouts
  • 1985-86 Vezina Trophy winner
  • .915 save percentage in the playoffs
Did you know...........Vanbiesbrouck was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007?

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Thursday

NHL Number 33 - Patrick Roy

Patrick Roy White Reebok Heroes of Hockey Montreal Canadiens Jersey - MediumPatrick Roy, (pronounced "Row-ahh", for you non-hockey fans), is often mentioned as the best NHL goalie to ever play the game.  He certainly merits nomination as the best NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 33. 

Roy wasn't selected until the 51st pick, when the Canadiens tapped him in the 1984 NHL entry draft.  That year, when Roy was 19 years old, he played in only one regular season NHL game, getting the win in that game.  The next season 1985-86, Roy got his chance to play on a consistent basis.  In 47 games, Roy earned 23 wins with a 3.35 GAA.  Not bad for a 20 year-old. 

In Roy's first full season, he took the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and once there would lead them to the Championship.  He would earn 15 wins in 20 games played, with a miniscule 1.92 GAA.  That performance earned Roy the Conn Smythe Trophy in his rookie season.  Quite impressive.

Roy would reach the Stanley Cup playoffs once again with the Canadiens in 1992-93.  This time he would win 16 games in 20 played, with a .929 save percentage.  Roy, by the way, would lead the league in regular season save percentage four times while with the Canadiens.

Roy would embark on the second half of his illustrious NHL career in 1995-96 when he joined the Colorado Avalanche.  Roy's star would shine just as bright while playing in a different country, across the continent.  He would take the Avalanche to the Stanley Cup championship twice (in 1995-96, his first full season with the team - just as he had done with the Canadiens, and in 2000-01).  His goals-against-average in his final Stanley Cup Championship playoff campaign was an astounding 1.70.

Patrick Roy Colorado Avalanche Autographed Pro NHL Ice Hockey JerseyFor each full season (exluding the lock-out shortened season of 1994-95) that Roy played during his NHL tenure, he had more than 20 wins, and often had more than 30 wins in net.

Roy would end his career with 551 regular season wins (second only to Martin Brodeur, at the time of this writing), ranked number 1 in all-time saves (25,807), 3 Conn Smythe Trophies, and 3 Vezina Trophies. 

In 2006, Patrick Roy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Did you know.........Roy was the first goalie to play in 1,000 NHL games? 

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Wednesday

NHL Number 32 - Dale Hunter

Dale Hunter began playing in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques during the 1980-81 season, suiting up and getting on ice for 80 games. It was with the Washington Capitals however, that Hunter gained his NHL fame, and earned the retirement of his jersey number 32.

DALE HUNTER Washington Capitals 1998 CCM Throwback Away NHL Hockey Jersey, 2XLHunter, playing center for the Quebec Nordiques between 1980-81 and 1986-87, racked up his fair share of points, going over 70 in four of his seasons with Quebec. He also racked up the penalty minutes, going over 200 PIM each season with the Nordiques, except his final season with them when he played in only 46 games (and still had 135 penalty minutes).

DALE HUNTER Quebec Nordiques 1985 CCM Vintage Throwback Away Hockey Jersey, XLHunter left the Nordiques for the Washington Capitals, playing with that franchise between the seasons of 1987-88 and 1998-99. Hunter, as of this writing, sits at fourth all-time in Washington Capitals scoring (with 556 points for the Caps), but expect him to be passed shortly by Alex Ovechkin. On the Caps all-time assists list, Hunter sits in third position with 375, and Ovi won't be getting near that mark in the next few years.

Over 1,407 NHL games played, Hunter amassed 1,020 points, of which 697 were assists. He currently ranks 51st all-time in NHL assists.

Did you know.......that only "Tiger" Williams has more career NHL penalty minutes than Hunter's 3,565?
 
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Tuesday

NHL Number 31 - Billy Smith

Billy Smith is my choice here for the best to ever wear the number 31, but this could have easily gone to either Grant Fuhr or Curtis Joseph also. All three were tremendous NHL goalies.

Smith, although drafted by the Kings, of course became known as the star goaltender of the New York Islanders 1980s dynasty, who really didn't like any opposing players in his crease.

Check out this video (you need to watch the last minute or so) to see just how much Smith didn't like players in his crease.



Billy Smith first received significant ice time during the 1972-73 NHL season, playing in 37 games with the Isles.  Although Smith would rack up his share of wins during the 1970s, he spent much of that time sharing the net with Gerry Desjardins and Glenn "Chico" Resch.

It was in the playoffs that Billy Smith really made his mark on the NHL.  During the 1979-80 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Smith would lead the Islanders to their first Stanley Cup Championship, playing 20 games in net, with 15 wins and a nice 2.80 GAA. 

Smith would improve upon that the following season by getting 14 wins in 17 games played, with a lower 2.54 GAA, and again, a Stanely Cup Championship.  

His next regular season, 1981-82, was a superb one for Billy.  He led the NHL in wins with 32, and only had nine losses in 46 games played.  That was enough to earn Billy the Vezina Trophy.  The Isles would win the Stanley Cup again that year, with Smith picking up 15 wins in net and lowering his GAA once again, this time to 2.52. 

Smith topped off the Isles Stanley Cup dynasty in 1982-83 by leading them to their fourth consecutive Cup, and earning himself the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP. 


For his NHL career, spanning 18 seasons spent mostly with the New York Islanders, Smith would rack up 305 regular season wins, a 3.17 GAA, 88 Stanely Cup Playoff wins and a 2.73 playoff GAA. 

Did you know............Billy Smith set a record for penalty minutes by a goalie (42) in his first season with the Islanders? 

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Monday

NHL Number 30 - Martin Brodeur

GoalieMonkey.,comMartin Brodeur, what can we say about the best NHL goalie ever?  Well, other than being the greatest NHL athlete to ever wear the jersey number 30, here are just a few bullet points about his hockey career in the NHL, spent entirely with the New Jersey Devils.
  • All-time NHL wins leader
  • All-time NHL shutouts leader
  • Youngest goalie to reach 500 wins
  • Most NHL overtime wins by a goalie
  • Calder Memorial Trophy winner (1993-94)
  • 4-time Vezina Trophy winner (2002-03, 2003-04, 2006-07, 2007-08)
  • 9-time NHL single season wins leader
  • Top 10 All-time in GAA
  • 3-time Stanley Cup Champion
I could really write thousands of words about Marty's NHL accomplishments here, but I won't.  The above bullet points are enough.  If you need to read more about Marty, check out the Wikipedia article about him.

Did you know.........that Martin Brodeur scored a playoff goal against the Canadiens in 1997?

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