Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Others: The Best Retired Numbers In the NHL
When you look at the history and tradition that is the National Hockey League, it is surprising the number of players who have played in the league over it's 90 plus year history.
Add the fact that out of all those players, only a select few have had their playing number retired by one of the teams that they have played with. That has to be impressive.
Wayne Gretzky is not only a special person, but was a special player during his playing days in the NHL.
Gretzky is the only player to have his number retired by all 30 NHL teams. Gretzky's accomplishments alone not only helped grow and expand the game in the western United States, but worldwide.
Imagine if the Gretzky era was upon us now.
Imagine if you could experience each of these great players in their hay-day? Too bad HD TV, Internet and other media outlets were not even created when most of these players played. For some of these players, their stories have been handed down and re-told a thousand times.
When you look at retired numbers, many names, different eras and dynasty's come to mind.
The NHL has a rich and interesting history. It is the players who wore these jerseys, these numbers and their names that have helped create the legacy of one of North Americas oldest professional sports.
Let's take a look at the best retired number in the National Hockey League in numerical order.
Where To Start: A Little NHL Jersey History.
When you think about hockey jerseys, whether it's the NHL or peewee, the legacy of the jersey number lives true today just as it has for almost 100 years.
Jerseys themselves were drab, made from heavy wool and cotton around the time the NHL started in 1917.
Times have changed.
Over the years, the NHL jersey has been re-engineered many times using bold colours and trend-setting fonts and numbers. But it wasn't always this way.
Starting in 1951, the NHL mandated that each team designate a white coloured-based jersey for each team's home games. Only a few years later, the NHL switched to allow the white jerseys to be used while teams where on the road.
This lasted until 1970 when white was again brought back to be worn at home. The NHL would change several times back and forth on home jersey colours over the next 30 years.
Today each NHL club sports their white jerseys on the road.
Names first appeared on home jerseys only in 1971 and by 1978, both home and away sweaters were fitted with names and numbers.
One team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, used to have white coloured lettered names on white jerseys and blue coloured lettered names on blue jerseys in protest. Former Leafs owner Harold Ballard hated the idea of losing money on in-game programs figuring that the home fans wouldn't need the game programs anymore.
Since then, the NHL has had names on all jerseys.
If a typical hockey team outfits their team in jerseys with the numbers ranging from 1-35, with the goaltenders selecting either 1 or 35, there should easily be enough to outfit the remaining 20 players with a number ranging now from 2-34, correct?
Now let's add about 75-80 years worth of history to that... add a dash of dynasty here and a pinch of greatness there.
Let's also consider that these teams would really like to honor the players who have contributed so much to their franchises, communities and the NHL over their careers.
Only four numbers—13, 26, 28 and 34 are NOT retired by the NHL or any of it's current 30 franchises.
One franchise honors their players and jersey numbers while keeping those numbers active and available—the Toronto Maple Leafs. But there is no 13, 26, 28 or 34 amongst them.
One franchise that has moved, the Quebec Nordiques (who moved in 1995), have retired No. 26—Peter Stastny. His banner is still hanging in Quebec City at the Colisee.
Ironically it's Peter's son, Paul, now with the Colorado Avalanche that wears No. 26, in honor of his father.
Now we're down to three numbers—13, 28 and 34.
Are you surprised at that?
You could argue that this number is one of the most used numbers in any sport, but in hockey, it will forever be linked to the great goaltenders of the past, present and hopefully the future. Also some of the not-so-good goaltenders.
Either way, No. 1 is forever linked to the goalies of hockey, no matter what level of hockey they might play.
Well, there is one exception.
The Minnesota Wild, upon bringing NHL hockey back to the "State of Hockey," decide to retire that number for you, the fans. A nice touch indeed.
Currently in the NHL, only Jonas Hiller in Anaheim, Steve Mason in Columbus and Roberto Luongo in Vancouver wear No. 1. These are the starting goalies for their respective teams.
While dependable back-up goalies such as Johan Hedberg in New Jersey, Jason Labarbera in Phoenix, Brent Johnson in Pittsburgh and up-and-coming goalie Semyon Varlamov in Washington round out the goaltenders who sport the No. 1.
In today's NHL where players are allowed the freedom to chose the number they want, based on availability, we are starting to see different numbers emerge.
As an example, Jose Theodore of the Minnesota Wild has used the No. 60 throughout his 500 plus game NHL career with Montreal, Colorado, Washington and Minnesota.
There are five different players who have had their No. 1 retired by a specific team.
Glenn Hall of the Chicago Blackhawks, Terry Sawchuck of the Detroit Red Wings, Jacques Plante of the Montreal Canadiens, Eddie Giacomin of the New York Rangers and Bernie Parent of the Philadelphia Flyers have all had their No. 1 hang from the rafters in their honor.
Johnny Bower and Turk Broda of the Toronto Maple Leafs have their No. 1 honored by the club.
That's five of the Original Six clubs who have recognized a goaltender and retired/honored their number.
My personal choice would be all of them! We all know that you can't win without good goaltending and without good fans!
Retired #2: Doug Harvey
When you think about the No. 2, more than a few names come to mind.
It depends on how old you might be, who wore that number for your favorite team, either currently or in the past.
It might even be a player from another team that you wished your team had. In either case the No. 2 is synonymous with defenceman as the No. 1 is with goaltending.
In fact, Nos. 2,3,4,5 and 6 are usually linked to defencemen thanks in part to the early days of NHL hockey. It was Nos. 7 and up that were once regarded as being a forward's number.
Once again, times have changed. Have there been any forwards wear the No. 2?
I'm not sure, but I know that Eddie Shore wore No. 2 for the Boston Bruins and played all positions during his professional career. There really wasn't too many things that Eddie Shore didn't do in hockey—or at least attempt to do.
In the modern era of the NHL, no one is currently playing forward wearing the No. 2.
Doug Harvey, Eddie Shore, Tim Horton, Glen Wesley, Brian Leetch and Al MacInnis have all had their No. 2 retired by the Canadiens, Bruins, Sabres, Hurricanes, Rangers and Blues respectfully.
Each have played an integral part in their team's success.
On January 1st, 1947, the Boston Bruins honored Eddie Shore by retiring his No. 2. It wouldn't be until October 26th, 1985, when the Montreal Canadiens honored Doug Harvey by retiring his number that another No. 2 would be honored.
Tim Horton (1996), Al MacInnis (2006), Brian Leetch (2008) and Glen Wesley (2009) were all honored and retired by their clubs.
Add Rick Ley to that list as well. Ley had his No. 2 retired by the then Hartford Whalers (now Carolina Hurricanes) on December 26th, 1982, more in recognition of Ley's World Hockey Association days with the Whalers.
My personal choice would be, Doug Harvey.
Doug was an NHL league All-Star for 11 straight seasons starting in the 1951-52 season and was one of the first pioneers of the offensive defenceman.
Harvey played from 1945-1969 and was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973. Harvey also won the Stanley Cup six times, all with the Canadiens.
Known for his skating speed and stick handling, Harvey could flatten you like a pancake if given the opportunity.
Retired #3: Harry Howell
Eight different players have had there No. 3 retired. The Chicago Blackhawks have two players honored with that distinction. From 1955 to 1980 only two players wore No. 3 for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Keith Magnuson and Pierre Polite had there No. 3 retired together in a ceremony at United Center in Chicago on November 12, 2008.
Pierre Polite played over 800 games in a Blackhawks jersey from 1955-68. He played his last season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Polite was a Blackhawks captain and won the Norris Trophy three times (1963, 1964 and again in 1965), and was a member of the Blackhawks' 1961 Stanley Cup champs.
Magnuson played over 500 NHL games, all with Chicago, from 1969-80. Magnuson was also head coach of the Hawks in 1980-81. Magnuson passed away in an automobile accident in 2003.
Harry Howell was a New York Rangers mainstay from 1952-69. Howell also played for the Oakland Seals and Los Angeles Kings before playing in the World Hockey Association.
Howell played over 1400 NHL games as well as over 150 WHA games during his career. He once held the NHL record for most games in one sweater (1160) with the Rangers and was a seven-time All-Star and the last pre-expansion winner of the Norris Trophy.
Howell became head coach of the Minnesota North Stars upon retirement and won a Stanley Cup as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers in 1990. Howell is sixth all time in career games played.
Howell's No. 3 was retired by the Rangers on February 22, 2009.
Lionel Hitchman of the Boston Bruins had his number retired in 1934, Bob Gassoff of the St.Louis Blues was retired on October 1, 1977. Al Hamilton of the Edmonton Oilers was retired in 1980, but a ceremony was not done until 2001, Ken Daneyko had his number retired by the New Jersey Devils on March 24, 2006 and Emile "Butch" Bouchard had his number retired by the Montreal Canadiens on December 4, 2009.
My personal choice would be Harry Howell.
To play that many games with one team and being as consistant as Howell was is certainly impressive.
Retired #4: Bobby Orr/Jean Beliveau
Only four players have had the No. 4 retired.
Jean Beliveau, Barry Ashbee, Bobby Orr and Scott Stevens. Not bad company at all.
There is a mixture of greatness, sadness, pain and intensity when you consider the careers of these players who are so honored to have the No. 4 retired.
Jean Beliveau played played 20 seasons for the Montreal Canadiens and had his number retired by the Habs on October 9th, 1971.
Beliveau lead the Canadiens to 10 Stanley Cups and captained the Habs from 1960-70. He had seven more Stanley Cups as an executive with the Habs.
He retired in 1970 a the Montreal Canadiens' all-time leader in points, second all-time in goals and the NHL's all-time leading playoff scorer.
Today Beliveau is still seen at Montreal home games and has been a club ambassador since his retirement.
Bobby Orr was, well, simply amazing to watch.
Bobby Orr's number took it's place in the rafters of the Boston Garden on January 9th, 1979. Orr played 10 seasons with the Bruins and finished his career as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, but will forever be remembered as a Bruin.
Bobby's unique imagination and creativity led to a change in how the defense position was played and inspired a generation of players with his speed and talent.
Orr's career was cut short due to cronic knee pain and unsuccessful surgeries.
Today, Orr is the management adviser for Orr Hockey group, a sports agency that has represented the likes of Jason Spezza, the Staal brothers and Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle.
Barry Ashbee was from all accounts was the working man's defenseman.
Ashbee worked his way from junior hockey in Barrie to stops in Kingston in the old Eastern Professional Hockey League (EPHL) onwards to the AHL with the Hershey Bears.
Ashbee played 14 games with the Boston Bruins during the 1965-66 season before returning to Hershey. In 1970, he joined the expansion Philadelphia Flyers and became a mainstay on defense for four seasons and was named to the NHL second team All-Star in the 1973-74 season after posting a +52 rating. After suffering a severe eye injury during the playoffs, Ashbee's career came to an end.
After winning the Stanley Cup as a player, Ashbee was named Assistant Coach the next season as the Flyers won back-to-back Cups.
The Flyers retired Ashbee's No. 4 on April 3, 1975.
In 1977 Ashbee found out he had leukemia, and he died shortly thereafter. The Flyers present the Barry Ashbee Trophy annually to the best Flyers defenceman.
Scott Stevens was a powerful, strong intense player. Originally drafted by the Washington Capitals, Stevens found his way to New Jersey after a brief stop in St. Louis and enjoyed much success.
Stevens, who partnered most of his New Jersey career with fellow defenceman Ken Daneyko, would form a strong and powerful duo.
Stevens played from 1982- 2004 and was inducted in the Hockey Hall of fame in 2007. He was a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Devils and was the 2000 Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP.
Stevens represented Canada internationally many times and played in 13 All-Star games.
My personal choice would be Jean Beliveau and Bobby Orr.
Let's be honest, what team wouldn't want to have Beliveau up front and Orr, Ashbee and Stevens on defence. The only problem would be who would wear what number!
Beliveau is class, and his success with the Canadiens over a 20-year period is almost unmatched.
Bobby Orr's ability to draw you out of your seat was amazing, it is a shame he couldn't have played longer. I often wonder how he would do playing in this day and age. Something tells me he'd be do just fine.
Retired #5: Denis Potvin
There are five players who enjoy having their No. 5 retired.
Dit Clapper of the Boston Bruins had his number retired on February 12, 1947. Clapper was on the Boston Bruins and played from 1927-1947 and severed as both a forward and defenceman during his career in Beantown.
A tough and rugged player, Clapper is one of only three active players to be selected into the Hockey Hall of Fame while playing. (Mario Lemieux and Guy Lafleur are the others).
Upon his retirement announcement, the Hockey Hall of Fame waived the waiting period and placed Dit Clapper into the Hall on the same night as he announced his retirement. Clapper played one final game as a Bruin and donated his sweater from that night to the Hall of Fame.
Clapper was one of the league's longest tendered captains in NHL history. He also served as a coach for the Bruins.
Bernie Geoffrion wore the No. 5 for the Montreal Canadiens from 1950-1964. He earned the nickname "Boom Boom" for the echo that could be heard throughout the arena when he used his powerful slapshot.
Geoffrion was the pioneer of the modern day slapshot, as it wasn't part of the game in hockey's early existence.
"Boom Boom" played two more seasons with the New York Rangers before retirement.
In one of the most memorable tributes, the Montreal Canadiens announced in October of 2005 that Geoffrion's number would be retired to the rafters at the Bell Centre on March 11, 2006.
Geoffrion was diagnosed with stomach cancer on March 8th—just three days before his jersey retirement—and passed way on that day, March 11, 2006.
Geoffrion's wife was the daughter of the great Howie Morenz, who himself had a distinguished career and No. 7 retired by the Canadiens on November 2, 1934.
The Canadiens lowered Morenz's banner halfway and raised it back up together with Geoffrion's to the Bell Centre rafters.
Denis Potvin played for the New York Islanders from 1973-88 and was inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
Potvin could play both offensive and defensive styles of hockey and usually played with a mean streak!
Potvin was captain of the 1980-83 New York Islanders dynasty who won four straight Stanley Cups.
Bill Barilko was a defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1947-51. A mid-season call-up form the Hollywood Wolves, Barilko stayed with the Leafs until he untimely death in the summer of 1951. Barilko and the Leafs won the Stanley Cup that season.
That summer, Barilko was on a fishing trip with three others to Seal Lake, Quebec, in the summer. Upon return from the weekend trip his plane went missing.
It was 11 years later, on June 7, 1962 the wreckage of his plane was discovered near Cochrane, Ontario and about 35 miles off course. The Leafs won the Stanley Cup that year after last winning it with Barilko in 1951.
Barilko only wore No. 5 for one season (1950-51) after wearing No. 21 his first season and No. 19 for the 1948-50 seasons. The Leafs won four Stanley Cups in Barilko's five seasons.
Rod Langway played for the Montreal Canadiens and Washington Capitals from 1978-1993. Langway was a two-time Norris Trophy defenseman with the Capitals and played in the WHA with the Birmingham Bulls.
Langway was born in Taipei, Republic of China. The only player ever to play in the NHL born in China. Langway's father was in the American military and stationed in Taiwan. Langway grew up in the USA and began to play hockey at age 13.
The Washington Capitals retired Langway's number on November 26, 1997.
My Personal choice would be Denis Potvin—with Geoffrion and Barilko very close behind.
Retired #6: Ace Bailey
Only Ace Bailey and Larry Aurie have the No. 6 retired amongst NHL teams.
Aurie played for the Detroit Red Wings, Falcons and Cougars during his NHL career, which spanned from 1927-39.
He led the NHL in goals in 1936-37, was named to the NHL first team All-Star that year and won the Stanley Cup in 1936 and 1937.
He moved on to coaching in the minors and junior hockey after his playing days were over.
His number was retired in 1938 by then Red Wings owner James Norris. His retired banner does not hang at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit because the current owners refuse to hang his jersey because Aurie is not a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Aurie died in 1952.
Ace Bailey played for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1928-33.
Having his career cut short due to a hit delivered on him by the Bruins Eddie Shore, Bailey's skull was fractured and his life was in jeopardy. Bailey survived the injury, but never played again.
An All-Star benefit game was held in Toronto at Maple Leafs Gardens on February 14, 1934, which raised much-needed money for Bailey and his family.
Bailey shook hands with Shore before the game.
Bailey is one of only two Toronto Maple Leafs to have their number retired. Bill Barilko's No. 5 sits along side Bailey's at Toronto's Air Canada Center.
Bailey died in 1988 after serving many capacities for the Maple Leafs and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975.
My personal choice would be both. Aurie should have his number raised to the rafters in Detroit and Bailey's career—almost his life—were cut short.
Retired #7: Phil Esposito
Nine players have had their No. 7 retired.
There have been many great players to wear the No. 7 and the following players are all deserving of their honor.
Phil Esposito by the Boston Bruins on December 3, 1987.
Esposito was signed by the Chicago Blackhawks and made his debut in 1964. Esposito was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1967 and would be part of a dynamic club that would win the Stanley Cup twice, first in 1970 and again in 1972.
In 1970, Esposito would score 76 goals setting a new NHL record that would not be beaten until Wayne Gretzky came along. Traded again to the New York Rangers in 1976, Esposito would go onto be the GM of the Rangers and bring the NHL to Tampa Bay with the expansion Lightning. Esposito was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1984.
Rick Martin by the Buffalo Sabres on November 15, 1995.
One of the three players that formed the "French Connection" line in Buffalo from 1971-81. Produced over a point per game during his 685-game career. Played briefly with the Los Angeles Kings until an injury forced him to retire.
Neal Broten by the Dallas Stars on February 7, 1998.
Born and raised in Minnesota, Broten would go on to play for Team USA at the 1980 Olympic and won Gold, He won the NCAA Hockey Championship with the University of Minnesota in 1979.
Winner of the Stanley Cup in 1995 with the New Jersey Devils, Broten is also the inaugural winner of the Hobey Baker Award—presented to the best NCAA College Hockey player. Broten was coached by Herb Brooks at the University of Minnesota.
Ted Lindsey by the Detroit Red Wings on November 10, 1991.
"Terrible Ted," as he was known, Lindsey was a standout forward for the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks. He played from 1944-57 with the Wings and from 1957-60 with the Hawks. Lindsey would return in 1964-65 with Detroit.
Paul Coffey by the Edmonton Oilers on October 18, 2005.
Coffey revolutionized the game from the back end similar to the way Bobby Orr did, however Coffey developed his own style that fit in perfectly with the high-flying Oilers of the '80s.
A first-round selection in 1980 draft, Coffey became only the second defenceman in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season. Winner of three Stanley Cups with the Oilers, and another with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He earned 1000 points in only 770 regular season games and is just the second defenseman to rack up 1000 points. Winner of the Norris Trophy multiple times (1985, 1986, 1995), Coffey finished his career with Boston in 2001
Howie Morenz by the Montreal Canadiens on November 2 1937.
Morenz died on March 8, 1937 after complications from a broken leg suffered during a game. Mornez was the first number retired by the Canadiens and Morenz was one of the original inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame when it opened in 1945.
He was named the best player of the first half century in 1950. Known as the "Stratford Streak," Morenz led the Canadiens is both goals and points in an era where only one assist was awarded rather than the standard two assists to complement a goal. Winner of three Stanley Cups, Morenz's funeral was held at The Forum on March 10, 1937
Rod Gilbert by the New York Rangers on October 14, 1979.
Played his entire 19-year career with the New York Rangers. Part of the GAG line, (Goal-a-Game) with Vic Hadfield and Jean Ratelle. Endured back pain and two spinal surgeries during his playing career, Gilbert was awarded the Masterton Trophy in 1976.
Gilbert was the first number retired by the New York Rangers. Gilbert would win the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1991 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. Retired as the Rangers career leader in goals (406) and assists (1021).
Bill Barber by the Philadelphia Flyers on October 11, 1990.
Drafted by the Flyers in 1972, Barber was recalled during his first season (1972) and became the captain of the Flyers in 1981-82 and most of the 1982-83 season. Barber would score 20+ goals every season and finished his career with 420 goals and 883 assists. Forced into retirement after unsuccessful knee surgery in 1984, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1980.
Yvon Labre of the Washington Capitals on November 7, 1981.
Many players dedicate their lives to hockey and Yvon Labre is no different. The first and only player in Washington Capitals history to wear No. 7, Labre was a tough defenceman who scored the first home goal in Caps history.
Originally drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins, Labre made his way to Landover by way of the Expansion Draft in 1974. He helped organize youth leagues in the DC area and served many capacities for the Capitals even after his playing days. Served as team Captain from 1976-78, Labre also worked as an assistant coach for the Caps.
My personal choice would be Phil Esposito.
Two-time Stanley Cup Champion and five-time Art Ross Trophy winner. Phil was also one of the highest scoring players in NHL History.
Retired #8: Cam Neely
The No. 8 jersey in hockey history bring certain names to mind—Neely, Plager and Goldworthy are a few. Randy Carlyle and Ken Hodge are others.
Maybe some day Alex Ovechkin might be there as well.
Cam Neely had his jersey retired by the Boston Bruins on January 12, 2004.
One of the heart and soul players for the Bruins, Cam came to Beantown from the Vancouver Canucks in a 1986 trade and played 10 seasons in a Bruins uniform. Neely was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005 and is currently the President of the Boston Bruins.
With over 1200 penalty minutes during his career, Cam was considered a premier power forward. Injuries would cut Neely's career short, but not before helping Boston to two Stanley Cup finals appearances in 1988 and 1990.
Winner of the Masterton Trophy in 1994, Cam would score 50 goals in 49 games in the 1993-94 season.
Bill Goldsworthy by the Minnesota North Stars on February 15, 1992.
Goldsworthy played 10 seasons from 1967 to 1977 with the North Stars. A former Bruins prospect, Goldsworthy was selected by the North Stars in the Expansion Draft and would become a fan favorite with the "Goldy Shuffle" he would do after he scored a goal.
He served two seasons as captain from 1975-77, and finished his pro career in the WHA with the Edmonton Oliers. Goldsworthy died in 1996. Heretired as the team leader in goals and points, Goldsworthy became the first expansion players to score 250 goals.
Frank Finnigan by the Ottawa Senators on October 8, 1992.
One of the longest living survivors of the Senators' 1927 Stanley Cup winners, Finnigan helped Senators ownership rally fans and NHL officials during the Senators push for an expansion team in 1990 and 1991.
Known as the Shawville Express, Finnigan played right wing for the Senators from 1923-31 and again from 1932-34. Finnigan also played for the RCAF Flyers during his time in the Air Force.
Barclay Plager by the St. Louis Blues on March 24, 1981.
The name Plager certainly means hockey. The oldest of three brothers, Barclay got his chance for NHL action in 1967 when the St. Louis Blues acquired Red Bersenson and Plager from the New York Rangers.
The Blues made it to the Stanley Cup finals three years in a row from from 1967-70 and Plager served as team captain from 1970-77. He became Blues coach in 1979-80 and again in 1982-83, and assistant coach in 1981-82 and from 1983-88. Brothers Bob and Bill also played with Barclay in St.Louis during his career. Plager played 10 seasons from 1967-77 with the Blues.
Retired #9: Maurice "Rocket" Richard
The No. 9 has been retired by many teams and honor some of the games greatest players in NHL history. One of hockey's favorite numbers, No. 9 has been retired nine times in NHL history.
Some of the most iconic players would pull on the No. 9.
Maurice "Rocket" Richard is one of the NHL's best players ever.
The first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games, Richard would send the Montreal faithful in to a frenzy with his on-ice play. The Rocket had a steely glare in his eyes when he played and after being suspended in 1955, the city of Montreal began to riot.
Richard was a Canadien for life. He won eight Stanley Cups and played in every All-Star game from 1947 to 1959. In 1961, he was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame. The Hall waived the minimum three year waiting period. In 1999 the Montreal Canadiens donated a trophy in his honor to be given annually to the league's leading goal scorer.
Richard had an arena and junior team named after him, as well as a long list of other honors including a biographical movie and memorials. Richard died in 2000 and he was laid in state at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Over 100,000 people paid their respects. Richard was given a provincial state funeral in Montreal and it was carried live on national TV in Canada.
Johnny Bucyk by the Boston Bruins on March 13, 1980.
Buyck retired as the fourth highest scoring player in NHL history. A big man who could hit like a ton of lead, Bucyk was originally signed to play for the Detroit Red Wings and was traded for Terry Sawchuk. Playing with the Bruins from 1957-78, Bucyk scored 51 goals during the 1970-71 season at age 35. Winner of two Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972, an eye injury ended his career. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981.
Lanny McDonald by the Calgary Flames on March 17, 1990.
Drafted in 1973 by the Toronto Maple Leafs, McDonald played right wing for the Leafs until 1980 when he was traded to the Colorado Rockies. After three seasons in Denver, McDonald was traded to Calgary and won a Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Flames.
Retiring right after winning the Stanley Cup, McDonald scored 500 goals and posted 1006 points in 1111 regular season games and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Bobby Hull by the Chicago Blackhawks on December 13, 1983 / Winnipeg Jets on February 19 1989.
Hull was one of the game's best players in a career that spanded over 23 season between the NHL and WHA. One of the first NHL stars to jump to the upstart World Hockey Assoication, Hull possessed one of hockey's most leathal slapshots.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983, Hull won a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1961 and won three Avco Cups with Winnipeg in the WHA (1976, 1978 and 1979). He retired as second leading goal scorer in NHL history.
Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings on March 12, 1972.
What can you say about Gordie Howe? He was a force during his NHL career. Howe was a tough as a hockey player could get, and because of his style of play, the "Gordie Howe Hat trick" is still coined today for his routine to get a goal, an assist and a fight during the same game.
Howe is the only player in NHL history to play in five different decades and won four Stanley Cups and six Art Ross Trophies with the Detroit Red Wings from 1946-71. He was the first player to play in 1500 NHL games and retired with 1850 career NHL points and 508 WHA points.
Glenn Anderson of the Edmonton Oilers on January 18, 2009.
Anderson was part of the dynasty that was the 80s Edmonton Oilers. Drafted by the Oilers in 1979, Anderson played for the Oilers from 1980-91. He also played for the Toronto Male Leafs, NewYork Rangers and St. Louis Blues.
Playing in over 1100 NHL games, Anderson scored 1099 points and won five Stanley Cups with the Oilers, and would win another in 1994 with the New York Rangers. He was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.
Clark Gillies of the New York Islanders on December 7, 1996.
Gillies was selected in the first round by the New York Islanders in 1974—ironically he was also selected by the WHA's Edmonton Oilers. He played with the New York Islanders from 1974-86 before going to Buffalo for two season before retiring in 1988.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2002, Gillies was a mainstay for the Isles during their dynasty days of 1980-83, winning four Stanley Cups.
Andy Bathgate by the New York Rangers on February 22, 2009.
Played 17 seasons with New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. He played with the Rangers from 1953-64 and won one Stanley Cup in 1964 with Toronto. He was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1967 expansion draft.
Adam Graves by the New York Rangers on February 3, 2009
Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 1986 it was in New York that Graves helped lead the Rangers to the 1994 Stanley Cup. Awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for his charity work in 1994, Graves also won the Masterton Memorial Trophy in 2000-01 and had his No. 9 retired by the Rangers along side Andy Bathgate on February 3, 2009.
Retired #10: Guy Lafleur
When you think of the No. 10, many think of Guy Lafleur of the Montreal Canadiens.
There have been a lot of great players in NHL who have worn No. 10 for their teams, but only four teams have retired it.
The Canadiens retired Guy Lafleur's No. 10 on February 16, 1985, after he retired from the Habs after only 19 games in the 1984-85 season. Lafleur was the Habs all-time scoring leader when he retired and was the first NHL player to score 50 goals and notch 100 assists in six consecutive seasons, and was the fastest player to reach 1000 points, doing so in 720 games (Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux have since broken that record).
Lafleur became one of three players to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and became an active player when he un-retired and joined the New York Rangers in 1988. He would later play two seasons for the Nordiques to conclude his career for good.
Ron Francis saw his number retired by the Carolina Hurricanes on January 28, 2006, in a career that spanned over 22 seasons with the Hartford Whalers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Dale Hawerchuk's No. 10 was retired by the Phoenix Coyotes on April 5, 2007, but never played a game for the Coyotes, but had played for the then Winnipeg Jets from 1981-90. Hawerchuk also played for the Philadelphia Flyers, Buffalo Sabres and the St. Louis Blues over 16 seasons.
Alex Delvecchio played for the Detroit Red Wings fron 1950-74, spanning 24 seasons. Delvecchio holds the NHL records for most games with one team and won three Stanley Cups with the Red Wings. He also was captain for 13 seasons.
My personal choice would be: Guy Lafleur.
When Guy would grab the puck and rush up ice, the Montreal Forum would become electric. His speed and scoring skills set him apart from many players from that time.
Retired #11: Mark Messier
In a career that spanned from 1979-2004, Mark Messier played for the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canunks and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2007. Mark is one of only a select few to have his number retired by two different clubs.
The New York Rangers and Edmonton Oilers each retired No. 11 within a year of each other. The Rangers did it on January 12, 2006, while the Oilers did it on February 27, 2007.
He won six Stanley Cups and is the only player to captain two different Stanley Cup winners during his career. Messier started out in the WHA and played for the Cincinnati Stingers and Indianapolis Racers before being selected by the Oilers in the Expansion Draft in 1979.
Gilbert Perreault was one of the biggest junior hockey stars in his time. He would be drafted first overall by the Buffalo Sabres and play in the Blue and Gold from 1970-87. He was part of the famed "French Connection" line consisting of Rene Robert and Richard Martin and enjoyed great success as one of the NHL's most potent lines. Perreault had his number retired by the Sabres on October 17, 1990.
Mike Gartner had his No. 11 retired by the Washington Capitals on December 28, 2008. Gartner played from 1979-89 for the Capitals until he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars and is one of one a few players inducted in to the Hockey Hall of Fame without winning a Stanley Cup.
Brian Sutter played all of his 779 NHL games with the St.Louis Blues from 1976-88. A tough and rugged player, Sutter could also provide offense, as he scored over 300 goals during his career and was the Blues captain for the majority of his time in St. Louis. The Blues retired his number on December 30, 1988.
My personal choice would be Mark Messier, who was a great leader.
Retired #12: Yvon Cournoyer
Sid Abel played for the Detroit Red Wings from 1938-52 and won three Stanley Cups. He was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks and became player-coach for two seasons (1952-54) before coming back to Detroit as coach from 1957-68. Abel won the Hart Trophy in 1948-49.
Abel wore many different numbers including 4,7, 9, 12, 19 and 20. Abel was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969 and was part of the "Production Line" featuring Gordie Howe and Ted Linsday. Throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, Abel worked as commentator for Red Wings radio. His No. 12 was retired by the Red Wings on April 29, 1995.
Yvon Cournoyer a.k.a "The Road Runner," was known as one of the fastest players to ever play the game. Cournoyer played three season for the Montreal Junior Canadiens, pilling up 111 points in the 1963-64 season.
Yvon played for the Canadiens from 1963 until 1979 and entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1982. He served as the Habs captain from 1975-79 and won 10 Stanley Cups, doing it four straight times twice.
Dickie Moore saw the Montreal Canadiens retire his No. 12 the same night as Cournoyer on November 12, 2005. Moore played with Montreal from 1951-63, ending his career with the St.Louis Blues in 1967-68. A two-time Art Ross Trophy winner and part of the Canadiens five Stanley Cups in row from 1956-60.
Stan Smyl played from 1978-91 and was the Canucks captain from 1982-91. Smyl would go on to lead the Canucks in all-time scoring and games played. His No. 12 was retired on November 3, 1991
My personal choice would be Yvon Cournoyer. His skill set would fit into the style of NHL we are currently enjoying.
There are currently 14 players (as of this article) in the NHL who are wearing the No. 13.
Three players that come to mind are Pavel Datsuyk for the Detroit Red Wings, Michael Cammarelli of the Montreal Canadiens and Pavel Kubina of the Tampa Bay Lightning as players who have worn this number throughout their career.
Ray Whitney, now with Pheonix, wore No. 13 in Carolina as well. Then there is Dan Carcillo in Philadelphia, and it seems more and more players are choosing the No. 13 when for a number of seasons it was hard to find anyone who donned the number.
Former player Mats Sundin looks like the trailblazer here, and there is a good chance that the Maple Leafs will at least honor his number at some point.
Retired #14: Rene Robert
A man is an island, and well, for Rene Robert, I guess you could say that, at least in these terms.
Robert is the only player in NHL history to have his No. 14 retired.
Rene Robert was one of three players who formed the famous "French Connection" line for the Buffalo Sabres. That line featured Gilbert Perreault and Richard Martin and was one of hockey's best lines ever.
The line played together from 1972-79—the same length of time Robert played for the Sabres. Robert would then play two seasons for the Colorado Rockies and followed by two more for the Toronto Maple Leafs before ending his career in 1982.
After Perreault had his number retired in 1990, Robert and Martin had their respective numbers retired by the Sabres under the "French Connection" banner.
Retired #15: Milt Schmidt
Milt Schmidt is the only player in NHL history to have the No. 15 retired.
Schmidt has his No. 15 retired by the Boston Bruins after being a player, a coach and then general manager of the club. The Bruins honored him on March 13, 1980.
He played his entire career with the Bruins from 1936-42 and then again from 1946-55. He missed the seasons in between while fighting in World War II.
After retiring, he coached the Bruins for 11 seasons before becoming the club's assistant general manager. In 1967 he became general manager as the Bruins won two Stanley Cups under his direction. That added to the two previous Cups he won as a player in 1939 and 1941.
He was the NHL scoring champ in 1940 and won the Hart Trophy in 1951.
On October 28, 2010 the Bruins held a banner raising ceremony for one of Boston's best. Schmidt previously had his number retired in an era where NHL clubs retired numbers with no fanfare.
Retired #16: Brett Hull/Henri Richard
Pat LaFontaine, Marcel Dionne, Herni Richard, Bobby Clarke, Trevor Linden, Brett Hull and Elmer Lach have worn No. 16 and all have had it retired by their respective teams.
Originally drafted by the New York Islanders, Pat LaFontaine was traded to Buffalo on October 25, 1991. He played six seasons with the Sabres and had two 40-goal season and one 50-goal season. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003 and the Sabres retired his number on March 3, 2006.
Marcel Dionne played from 1971-89, spending 1975-87 with the Kings. Upon retirement, he was second all-time leading scorer in NHL history. He was part of Kings "Triple Crown" line with Dave Taylor and Charlie Simmer. He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Los Angeles Kings retired his number on November 18, 1990.
Elmer Lach played for the Canadiens from 1940-1954 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966. He was the first recipient of the Art Ross Trophy in 1947-48 and retired as the leagues all-time leading scorer in 1954. The Montreal Canadiens retired his number on December 4, 2009.
Herni Richard won 11 Stanley Cups and Played for the Canadiens from 1955-75. Succeeded Jean Beliveau as Habs Captain until retirement (1971-75). He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1979 and the Montreal Candiens retired his number on December 10, 1975.
Bobby Clarke played for the Philadelphia Flyers from 1969-84. He won two Stanley Cups, led the league in assists twice and had three 100-point seasons. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989 and the Philadelphia Flyers retired his number on November 15, 1984.
Trevor Linden played two different times for the Canucks, from 1988-98 and from 2001-08 and became one of the NHL's youngest captains at age 21. He led Canucks to the 1994 Stanley Cup final and the Vancouver Canucks retired his number on December 17, 2008.
Brett Hull played for the Blues from 1987-98 and scored 527 goals during that time, averaging 47 goals per season, even including the 1994-95 NHL strike-shortened year. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and the St. Louis Blues retired his number on December 5, 2006.
My personal favorites would have to be Herni Richard and Brett Hull.
Honorable mention to former Quebec Nordique Michel Goulet, who had his No. 16 retired on March 15, 1995.
Retired #17: Jari Kurri
The only No. 17 retired by any of the 30 NHL clubs, Jari Kurri had his number retired by the Edmonton Oilers on October 6, 2001.
Kurri also played for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Colorado Avalanche during his career.
Kurri is the only Finnish born player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
With over 1300 points during his NHL career, Jari scored 474 goals and over 1000 points in an Edmonton uniform.
Known as an extremely skilled player and scorer, Kurri has a Finish League's SM-liiga Playoff MVP trophy named after him and is currently the general manager of the Finland international team.
Other notable No. 17's in NHL history:
The Carolina Hurricanes plan to retire Rod Brind'Amour jersey on Feb 18, 2011 vs. his former club, the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs "honored" Wendel Clark's No. 17 in a ceremony on November 22, 2008.
Retired # 18: Serge Savard
Sabres fans remember Danny Gare, Kings fans remember Dave Taylor, Blackhawks and Canadiens fans remember Denis Savard, but there was another Savard who who had his No. 18 retired.
Not only do Denis and Serge share the same last name, (not related), same jersey number (18), they also share the fact that they won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens.
Danny Gare had his number retired by the Buffalo Sabres on November 20, 2005. Gare played right wing for the Sabres from 1974-82 before being traded to the Detroit Red Wings. Gare scored over 500 points during his tenure and become a game analyst for the Sabres (1997-03).
Dave Taylor had his number retired by the Los Angeles Kings on April 3, 1995. Taylor spent his entire career with the Kings, playing over 1100 games and scoring over 1000 points from 1977-94. A member of the Kings famous "Triple Crown" line with Marcel Dionne and Charlie Simmer. All three linemates scored over 100 points during the 1980-81 season, an NHL record. Taylor served as Kings captain from 1985-89 and would retire to become the team's General Manager.
Denis Savard had an interesting NHL career. Selected by the Blackhawks with the third pick in 1980, he was passed over by the Canadiens, who held the first overall selection (Montreal would take Doug Wickenheiser). After being traded to Montreal by Chicago, he won a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1993. Savard would return to Chicago, and after retiring, became the Hawks coach. Denis had his number retired by the Blackhawks on March 19, 1998 and was inducted into Hockey Hall of Fame in 2000
Serge Savard had his number retired by the Montreal Canadiens on November 18, 2006. Savard played with the Montreal Canadiens from 1966-81. He won eight Stanley Cups as a player and two more as the club's GM. He was the first defenceman to win the Conn Smythe Trophy in 1968-69, and was a member of Team Canada Summit Series in 1972. He won the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1979 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
My personal choice would be: Serge Savard—the original "Savardian Spin-o-rama" as coined by former Habs broadcaster Danny Gallivan, which was later adopted for Denis Savard.
Retired #19:Steve Yzerman
By the time December 11, 2010 rolls around, six former NHLer's will have had their respective No. 19 retired.
Markus Naslund will have his number retired in a ceremony on December 11, 2010 at Vancouver's Rogers Arena.
The other five players with the No. 19 retired are Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman, Bill Masterton, Larry Robinson and Bryan Trottier. Needless to say Naslund will be joining some elite company.
Joe Sakic retired after 20 seasons with the Colorado Avalanche and Quebec Nordiques. Sakic won two Stanley Cups and appeared in 13 NHL All-Star games. He scored 1641 points during his career and another 188 playoff points. He was the captain of the Avs from 1992-09 and the team retired his number on October 1, 2009.
Like Joe Sakic, Steve Yzerman played his entire career with one club, the Detroit Red Wings. He scored 1755 points in over 1500 games, as well as another 185 playoff points. One of the longest-serving captains in NHL history, he won three Stanley Cups and a fourth as a team executive, one Olympic Gold Medal, two Silver Medal World Championships, the 1984 Canada Cup and a Bronze Medal in the World Jr. Championship in 1983. He was a ten-time NHL All-Star, Conn Smythe Trophy winner 1989 and Frank Selke Trophy winner 2000. He was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009 and the Red Wings retired his number on January 2, 2007.
Larry Robinson, or "Big Bird" as he was called, played from 1971-1992 for the Montreal Canadiens and Los Angeles Kings, but his time with the Canadiens was special. He was part of the "Big Three," which comprised of Serge Savard, Guy Lapointe and Robinson that won four straight Stanley Cups from 1975-79.
Robinson would win six Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and never missed the playoffs in his 20-year career. He is the all-time leader for +/- with an impressive +720 and won the Norris Trophy twice as the league's best defenceman. He was inducted into the Hockey Hal of Fame in 1995 and his number was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on November 19, 2007.
Bryan Trottier won six Stanley Cups, including four in a row with the New York Islanders from 1980-83. He would win two more Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1990-92). He notched over 1400 points and over 500 goals during his career. Drafted by both the NHL and WHA, Trottier was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. He played for the Isles from 1976-90 and his number was retired on October 20, 2001.
My personal choice would be all of them, but I like Stevie Y.
Retired #19: Bill Masteron
Bill Masterton scored the first goal in the history of the Minnesota North Stars on October 11, 1967. He died as a result of a head injury suffered during an NHL game on January 13, 1968 after being checked during a play. Masterton died two days later due to the severity of the injury (massive brain hemorrhage).
The North Stars never used Masterton's No. 19 from that point onward and officially retired No. 19 in 1987. The Minnesota North Stars dedicated a trophy in his name and it is annually awarded to the player for dedication, sportsmanship and perseverance.
Ten former players who have had their number retired have received the Masterton Memorial Trophy including Steve Yzerman, Bobby Clarke, Herni Richard, Serge Savard, Lanny McDonald, Dave Taylor, Mario Lemiuex, Cam Neely, Pat LaFontaine and Ken Daneyko.
Retired # 20: Luc Robitaille
Only one No. 20 is retired among NHL teams and it belongs to Luc Robitaille of the Los Angeles Kings.
Not bad for kid from Montreal who was told he wouldn't make it in the NHL because of his skating style.
Robitaille played three season of major junior hockey for the Hull Olymiques in the QMJHL, posting 155 goals, 269 assists and 392 points. Luc has the Luc Robitaille Trophy named after him for by the QMJHL and it is awarded annually to the league's leading goal scorer.
Robitaille remembers only one scout talking with him during his junior days and that scout was employed by the Kings, who selected Robitaille in the ninth round of the 1984 entry draft. Not only was the 1984 draft the "Mario Lemieux Draft," but the Kings selected a player in the fourth round that year who would go on to star on the pitching mound rather than the rink (Tom Glavine).
Robitaille would play for the Kings at three different stages of his career, along with stops in Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and Detroit, where Luc won a Stanley Cup in the 2001-02 season.
Not only does Robitaille have the Los Angeles Kings records for most goals (668) and points (1394) by a left winger, he also has the record for most goals and points by ANY left winger in NHL history.
Upon retirement, Robitaille became the Kings President of Business Operation on May 25, 2007.
Luc won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1987 and played in eight All-Star games during his career.
Robitalle was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.
Retired # 21: Stan Mikita
Stan Mikita played for the Chicago Blackhawks from 1958-1980 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1983.
Mikita was known as one of the most penalized players during the earlier part of his career. He decided to change the way he played the game and in 1967 and 1968, Mikita would win the Lady Byng Trophy, which was given annually for gentlemanly play. Mikita went from over 100 PIM on average to just 12 and 14 the years he won the Lady Byng.
Part of a Chicago attack that ripped through the NHL in the 1060's, Mikita, along with the likes of Bobby Hull combined to lead the Blackhawks as one of the most offensive teams of that decade.
Mikita would win a Stanley Cup in 1961 and played his entire career with the Blackhawks.
An innovator, Mikita was one of the first to use a curved blade on his stick that is so common today. Mikita's skill and stick allowed him to dominate the face-off circle for most of his NHL career. Mikita also possessed a heavy slapshot.
You might remember Mikita's name being used in the "Wayne's World" movies for "Stan Mikita Doughnuts," in reference to the Canadian chain named after former NHL star Tim Horton.
Retired #21: Michel Briere
Michel Briere Story is one of sadness. Many people have been left to wonder what would have been.
Briere's No. 21 was officially retired by the Pittsburgh Penguins on January 25, 2001, but for more that 30 years the Penguins never issued No. 21.
Briere was an outstanding junior player who tallied 320 points in only 100 junior games. Drafted by the Penguins 26th overall in 1969, Briere joined the Pens the next season in 1969-70.
Compared alongside other rising young stars in the game, Briere finished third in team scoring and led the Penguins in the playoffs netting three game-winning goals. Briere also scored the clubs first overtime playoff goal vs. the Oakland Seals.
Pittsburgh would lose to St.Louis in the semi-finals 4 games to 2.
On May 15, 1970 tragedy struck Briere when he was involved in a single car accident near his hometown of Val-d'Or. Briere suffered severe head injuries and was flown to Montreal which was over 300 miles away.
Briere had four surgeries with limited chance of survival but Briere laid in a coma for 11 months and died on April 13, 1971.
Briere's No. 21 was kept by the Penguins as they started their 1970-71 season. Briere's No. 21 jersey as well as his equipment traveled with the team that season. After that season, a framed jersey along with Briere's photo hung inside the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh.
Over the next 30 seasons, no player asked to wear No. 21. The Penguins officially retired Michel Briere's number on January 25, 2001.
The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has honored Briere with awarding the Michel Briere Memorial Trophy given annually to the Leagues Most Valuable Player. It was first awarded in 1972.
The Penguins have a similar award as the Michel Briere Trophy goes to the Penguins best rookie of the year. The Penguins renamed their Rookie of the Year Trophy in his honor after Briere won the Trophy in 1969-70 season.
Sidney Crosby has won both the Quebec league trophy (2003-04 and 2004-05) and the team trophy (2005-06), Mario Lemieux won the Quebec league trophy (1983-84) and team trophy (1984-85).
Retired #22: Mike Bossy
Mike Bossy was a scoring machine.
Playing his entire NHL career with the New York Islanders, Bossy was part of the 1980-83 Isles dynasty that won four straight Stanley Cups.
After a sensational junior career where Bossy averaged over 70 goals a season playing for Laval, Bossy was selected by the New York Islanders in the first round in the 1977 NHL Draft. Bossy would also be selected by the Indianapolis Racers of the WHA that same season.
Part of a line dubbed "Trio Grande" with Bryan Trottier and Clark Gillies, Bossy would average over 50 goals a season until injuries finally forced him to retire after only 10 season.
Inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, Bossy is still remembered as only being the second player ever to score 50 goals in 50 games after Maurice "Rocket" Richard.Bossy recorded nine hat tricks that season.
Wayne Gretzky would break that record by scoring 50 goals in only 39 games.
Bossy holds the NHL record for most consecutive 50+ goal seasons with nine, Tied with Wayne Gretzky for most 60+ goal seasons with six and averaged .762 goals per game during his regular season career, only Mario Lemieux comes close at .754.
Retired #23: Bob Gainey
"Le Capitaine," Bob Gainey played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1973-89. He captained the Canadiens from 1981 until his retirement in 1989 and was called to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992.
Also drafted by the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints, Gainey joined the Habs organization in 1973 after playing his junior career in Peterbourgh with the Petes.
After a brief stint with the Nova Scotia Voyageurs, Gainey appeared in 66 games in the 1973-74 season. He would go on to play 1139 games with the Canadiens and win five Stanley Cups.
It was believed that the Soviet National team coach Anatoli Tarasov regarded Gainey as the greatest player ever due to Gainey's hockey sense, skill and size.
After retiring, he moved to France to coach and was named Minnesota North Stars coach in 1990-91, taking the North Stars to the Stanley Cup final. In 1992 Gainey added GM duties to his title and as the team re-located to Dallas in 1993 and gave up his coaching duties.
Gainey would win another Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1993.
In 2006, Gainey would return to Montreal as GM and held that position until the 2009-10 season.
On February 23, 2008 the Montreal Canadiens retired his number.
Retired #24: Bernie Federko
Bernie Federko played exactly 1000 games in the NHL and played all but 73 of them in a St. Louis Blues uniform.
Federko was a product of the Saskatoon Junior Blades of the WCHL where he played three season and scored 344 points in only 206 games. It was Federko's ability to distribute the puck that caught the eyes of the scouts.
Drafted in the first round by the Blues, Federko was also selected by the Edmonton Oilers of the WHA in the 1976 draft.
Federko has several St. Louis Blues records, including most games played (927), most assists (721), most points (1073) and playoff assists (66).
Inducted into the Hockey Hall Of Fame in 2002, Federko is currently working as an commentator on Blues radio and the team retired his number on March 16, 1991.
Terry O'Reilly played for the Boston Bruins from 1971-85 and earned over 2000 PIM. Drafted 14th overall in 1971, O'Reilly had over 200 PIM/season in five straight seasons from 1977-82.
Always a force no the ice, O'Reilly also was known to venture off it.
On December 23, 1979 O'Reilly went into the crowd at Madison Square Garden after a Rangers fan took the stick of one of his teammates and hit him with it. O'Reilly then jumped over the glass and attacked the fan. Others helped restore order, but O'Reilly was suspended eight games for the incident.
O'Reilly coached the Bruins to the Stanley Cup finals in 1988 only to lose to the Edmonton Oilers. His number was retired by the Bruins on October 24, 2002
Retired #25: Thomas Steen
Thomas Steen played his entire NHL career with the Winnipeg Jets.
Drafted in 1979, Steen joined the Jets in time for the 1981-82 season after two years playing pro in his native Sweden with Laksands IF.
Steen would go on to play 950 games for the Jets and score 817 points over a 14-year career.
Upon retiring, Steen was part of the ownership group that purchased the Minnesota Moose of the IHL and move the team to Winnipeg. Steen would become part of the hockey operations department.
Steen has also run for civic elections in Winnipeg and recently was elected to the Winnipeg City council in October 2010.
The Jets retired his number #25 on April 1, 1994
Retired #26: Peter Stastny
You can't deny what Peter Stastny accomplished, he was a great player who played on some great Quebec Nordiques teams.
The Nordiques/Avalanche retired Peter's number on February 26, 1996. Peter's son, Paul now wears his number for the Avs.
Retired #27: Teppo Numminen
For those who still remember the Winnipeg Jets, they'll remember Teppo.
From 1988-95, Teppo's No. 27 was seen skating around the Winnipeg Arena steadying the Jets defense.
Teppo moved to Phoenix with his former Jets teammates in time for the 1996-97 NHL season and remained with the organization until a trade to Dallas in 2003-04 season.
Teppo would finish that season in Dallas and then move on to Western New York were he played four seasons for the Sabres.
Numminen is the Jets/Coyotes all-time games played leader.
Teppo retired in 2009 due to health issues (he had heart surgery in 2007).
Numminen's No. 27 was retired on January 30, 2010 by the Phoenix Coyotes.
Retired #28: ?
While many great players have donned the No. 28 for various NHL teams, no player has been bestowed the honor of having their number raised to the rafters.
Some notable players who wore the number include:
Eric Desjardins played from 1988-2006 with the Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers, won a Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1993.
While Montreal may or may not retire anymore numbers, Desjardins value to the Flyers was unquestioned and helped the Flyers to the Stanley Cup finals in 1997.
Desjardins played over 1100 regular season games and 575 career regular season points.
Like Desjardins, Steve Larmer played for two clubs during his NHL career. A long-time Chicago Blackhawk, Larmer left the Hawks in 1993 and won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers in 1994.
Larmer played over 1000 games with another 140 during the playoffs including 10 straight season's in Chicago without missing a regular season game. Larmer was the NHL Rookie Of The Year (Calder Trophy) in 1983.
Currently wearing the number:
Robin Regehr has been a mainstay on defense for the Calgary Flames since 2000 and has played in over 700 NHL games. Key member of the 2004 club that lost to Tampa Bay in the Stanley Cup finals.
Reed Larson played 10 seasons for the Detroit Red Wings (1977-86). Known as an offensive defenceman, Larson averaged almost 60 points/season during his time as a Wing.
Tie Domi played 10+ years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Originally drafted by the Leafs, Tie spent time with the New York Rangers and Winnipeg Jets during his career that spanned from 1989-06.
Who is your favorite No. 28?
Retired #29: Ken Dryden
Ken Dryden did a lot in a short amount of time in his career with the Montreal Canadiens.
Dryden played from 1970-73 and again from 1974-79. He won 6 Stanley Cups.
Not bad if you ask me, some players never get a chance to play in the Stanley Cups finals, let alone win a Cup.
He won Stanley Cups in 1971, 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.
He won Vezina Trophies in 1972, 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978
He won Rookie Of The Year (Calder Trophy) in 1971.
He won play-off MVP (Conn Smythe Trophy 1970).
Mr.Dryden took a year off (1973-74) and completed law school.
Was selected in the third round of the 1964 NHL Amateur Draft by the Boston Bruins.
Dryden attended Cornell University from 1966-68 and participated for the Canadian National team in 1969-70 before joining the Canadiens.
Dryden is famous for leading the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup as a rookie during the 1970-71 season.
Ken Dryden had his number retired by the Montreal Canadiens on January 29, 2007.
Dryden would go on after his playing career to run the Toronto Maple Leafs and become a member of the Canadian Parliment.
Retired #30: Rogatien Vachon
Rogatien "Roggie" Vachon played from 1966-82.
Roggie's career would see him start his time in the Montreal Canadiens system and play five seasons for the Montreal Canadiens 1966-71.
Vachon was traded to the Los Angeles Kings and played seven seasons for them.
In 1978 he was dealt to the Detroit Red Wings where he played two seasons (1978-80) before completing his career in Boston as a member of the Bruins (1980-82).
Roggie won over 350 games during his career and had his No. 30 retired by the Kings on February 14, 1985.
Mike Vernon was drafted by the Calgary Flames shortly after they arrived from Atlanta in 1981.
Vernon would play from 1982-02 winning a Stanley Cup in 1989 with the Flames and another in 1997 as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
Vernon would play for Detroit, San Jose, Florida and return to Calgary in 2000 to complete his career.
Vernon had his No. 30 retired by the Flames on February 7, 2007.
My personal choice would be Vachon. Vernon was an outstanding goalie and deserves to have his number retired. Vachon played in a time without a lot of media coverage from Los Angeles and is currently patiently awaiting a call for the Hockey Hall of Fame. I my opinion it would be a shame if Roggie was not called to the Hall.
Retired #31: Grant Fuhr
Grant Fuhr was part of an Edmonton dynasty that produced some of the league's best players in the early 1980s.
Fuhr, a native of Spruce Grove, Alberta, was drafted in the first round in the 1981 NHL Draft by the Oilers and played 10 season in Edmonton, winning five Stanley Cups.
Fuhr would move on to the Toronto Maple Leafs for two season before being dealt to Buffalo. He would play for the Los Angeles Kings, St; Louis Blues and Calgary Flames before retiring in 2000.
Fuhr became the goalie coach of the Phoenix Coyotes from 2005-09 and won the Vezina Trophy (87-88) and Jennings Trophy (93-94).
The Oilers retired No. 31 on October 9, 2003.
Retired #31: Billy Smith
Billy Smith was one of the best playoff goalies in NHL history, backstopping the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-83.
Smith played almost his whole career with the Islanders.
Smith would go on to be the Florida Panthers goalie coach from 1995-97 and assistant coach from 1998-01.
Smith won the Vezina in 1981-82, and the Conn Smythe and Jennings Trophy in 1982-83.
My personal choice would be Fuhr, by an inch. Both were outstanding goalies to see play and it was great to see them overlap each other, between them they won eight straight Stanley Cups.
Retired #32: Dale Hunter
Dale Hunter is the only No. 32 retired by an NHL club
Dale played for the Washington Capitals from 1987-99 and lead the Caps in their franchise overhaul from one of the worst teams in the NHL to one of the better teams.
Dale amassed 3563 penalty minutes during his career, which includes a stop in Quebec City before Landover, and finished his career in 1998-99 as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Hunter played over 1400 regular season games and another 186 in the postseason.
Dale was a key member of the 1998 Caps club that lost to the Detroit Red Wings in the Stanley Cup finals.
Since retiring, Dale and his brother Mark own and operate the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. Dale has coached the club since 2001.
Dale had his No. 32 retired by the Caps on March 11, 2000
Retired #33: Patrick Roy
For a young goalie who was drafted in the 3rd round in the 1984 draft, Patrick Roy sure did come a long way.
After playing three grueling seasons of junior hockey in Granby, Quebec for the Bisons, Roy made his way to Sherbrooke of the AHL to begin his pro career in the spring of 1985.
What a pro career it would be.
Roy would go on to win the AHL Calder Cup with Sherbrooke and remind all Montreal Canadiens fans about Ken Dryden. As you remember, Dryden came in to lead the Habs to a Stanley Cup as a rookie in 1970. But this was the AHL, not the NHL.
In 1986, Patrick Roy lead the Montreal Canadiens to the Stanley Cup, and in 1993 Roy placed the Habs on his back to win another one. Montreal was down 2-0 to their provincial rivals from Quebec in the first round that year and would meet Wayne Gretzky and the Kings taking the series 4-1.
Roy would play in Montreal for 11 seasons before his famous game vs. the Detroit Red Wings, and get traded to the Colorado Avalanche. In Colorado, Roy would win two more Stanley Cups in 1996 and 2001.
Roy retired after the 2002-03 season and now owns and coaches the Quebec Ramparts of the QMJHL.
Montreal retired his No. 33 on November 22, 2008
The Avalanche would honor Roy as well, they retired his number in a ceremony on October 28, 2003.
Patrick is one of only four to have their jersey retired by two different teams. Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Raymond Bourque are the others.
Roy's trophies included the Conn Smythe in 1986, 1993 and 2001.
Jennings trophy in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992 and 2002.
Vezina trophy in 1989, 1990 and 1992.
No. 34 is another number that is not honored by any NHL Club.
Normally a number suited for goaltenders, No. 34 has been worn by players of all positions during the history of the NHL.
Al Iafrate wore it for the Washington Captials from 1990-94.
Iafrate played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and finally the San Jose Sharks. Iafrate played from 1984-98, with over 1300 minutes in penalties and was known for one of the hardest slapshots during his tenure in the league.
Currently wearing the number:
Mikka Kiprusoff was a draft selection by the San Jose Sharks in 1995 and followed Darryl Sutter to Calgary in 2005. Mikka was the driving force in leading the Flames to the Stanley Cup finals in 1994 and is currently rated as one of the best goalies in the NHL.
Mikka has averaged over 70 regular season starts since becoming a Flame and is one of the most consistent goalies currently in the NHL.
Kiprusoff has won the Jennings and Vezina Trophies (2005-06).
Could this No. 34 some day have his number retired at Scotiaback Saddledome?
Retired #35: Tony Esposito
Tony Esposito played three years at Michigan Tech before heading to the Montreal Canadiens in 1968. After a brief stint in Montreal, Tony was acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks and the rest is history.
Tony played from 1969-84 for the Hawks and lost a chance at winning the Stanley Cup twice at the hands of his former team in 1971 and again in 1973. Chicago would not see the Finals again until Mike Keenan led the Hawks but lost to Mario Lemieux in 1992.
Tony posted 15 shutouts in 1969-70 (NHL record) and had 30+ wins from 1969-1976.
Esposito played 60+ games nine times during his career and always gave Chiacgo a chance to win.
Tony won the Vezina Trophy as the leagues top goalie three times (1970, 1972, 1974) and was the rookie fo the year (Calder Memorial Trophy) in 1970.
Tony is currently one of the ambassadors for the Chicago Blackhawks and can be seen at Hawks home games.
Retired #35: Mike Richter
Mike Richter was a one the best goalies during his 15 years on Broadway. (1988-2003).
A product of the University of Wisconsin, Richter was a second round selection of the Rangers in the 1985 NHL draft.
Richter won 42 games in 1993-94 season and helped lead the Rangers to their first Stanley Cup in over 40 years.
Richter battled game in and game out and would be the backbone for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey, leading them to victory.
From 2005-08, Richter served as assistant coach of Yale University's men's hockey club.
Richter had his number retired by the New York Rangers on February 4, 2004.
Retired #66: Mario Lemieux
Mario Lemieux was one of the most dynamic players ever to play in the NHL.
For a player who was 6'4" and 210 lbs, Lemieux had all the skills necessary to be a dominate player.
After destroying the QMJHL record book with 562 points in just three seasons (Mario had more points - 282 in his last season in junior than he did combined in his first two junior seasons), Lemieux was all the rage heading into the 1984 NHL draft.
Coming from a French language background, Mario was hesitant to come to Pittsburgh, who made the French giant, their first selection.
After reporting to Pittsburgh, Mario was able to score on his first shift, taking his first shot on goal during his first game at old Boston Gardens on October 11, 1984 vs. the Bruins. Lemieux would go on to score 100 points his rookie season (43 goals and 57 assists) winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year. Lemieux was named to the All-Star game and was the first rookie to be named the game's MVP.
While dealing with many injuries, including two major back surgeries and various health issues his entire career, Lemieux was on pace to challenge Wayne Gretzky's mark of 92 regular season goals in 1992-93. On January 12, 1993 Lemieux announced that he had Hodgkin's lymphoma and missed over two months of action.
Upon Mario's return the Penguins won 17 straight games to finish first in the NHL. The first ever for the Penguins. The Penguins would be upset by the New York Islanders in the postseason, ending Mario and the Penguins run towards their third Stanley Cup. The Penguins had won the Stanley Cup in 1990-91 and 1991-92.
Mario played 12 season for the Penguins, retiring after the 1997 season.
In 1998 the Penguins declared bankruptcy that November and in the end it was Mario who would now led the Pens, this time it would be off the ice. Being one of the Penguins biggest creditors, Lemiuex and his representation proposed a deal with bankruptcy officials to take over the Pens as a way of recovering his lost salary. Lemiuex promised to keep the Pens in Pittsburgh and on September 1, 1999 became owner of the Penguins with the NHL board of directors support. Lemiuex was now the CEO of the Pens.
On December 27, 2000 Mario returned to the Penguins lineup and played his first game in three seasons at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The game was broadcast nationally as Lemiuex put up three points.
Mario would retire again from the Penguins on January 24, 2006. Lemiuex was still controlling partner of the franchise.
Mario was called to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997 and has three Stanley Cups as well as winning the Hart Trophy four times (1988, 1989, 1992, 1996), Art Ross Trophy six times (1988, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997), Lester B. Pearson Award four times (1986, 1988, 1993, 1996), the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1993 as well as the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1985 among other awards, tributes and dedications.
As well as a five-time NHL First Team All-Star, Mario Lemiuex was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.
The Penguins retired No. 66, for good, on October 5, 2006.
Retired# 77: Ray Bourque
Raymond Bourque played 21 years for the Boston Briuns.
He began his NHL career wearing No. 7 for the Bruins and surprised former Bruins great Phil Esposito by offering to change his number from 7 to 77 in Esposito's honor in a ceremony to make Esposito's retirement on December 3, 1987.
A very durable and gifted defenceman, Bourque won the Norris trophy as the NHL's best defenceman five times.
In 1981, his rookie season, he won the Calder Trophy as the league's best young player.
Bourque was a key driver leading the Bruins to Stanley Cup appearances in 1988 and 1990 ironically both times against the Edmonton Oilers only to be on the losing end each time.
Bourque made the playoffs every season except in the 1996-97 and 1999-2000 seasons. During that time, Bourque played in 214 playoff games and added 180 points.
Ray Bourque would win a Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 after a trade in the 1999-2000 season.
Both the Boston Bruins and Colorado Avalanche retired Bourque's No. 77, First the Bruins on October 4, 2001 and then Colorado on November 24, 2001.
Ray Bourque would play in 1600 NHL games and score over 1500 points including nine times scoring 20 or more goals in a season, and he hit 90 or more points four times.
Retired #99: Wayne Gretzky
The Great One.
Ususally that is all that is needed to be said and instantly you'll know who it is.
Wayne Gretzky is one of a kind. It is argued that there is no other team sport athlete to dominate a sport such as Greztky did. Perhaps it's true, or perhaps there will be another one to come along. Mario Lemiuex certainly did his part.
When Wayne Gretzky retired on April 18, 1999, he owned 40 regular season records, 14 playoff records and six All-Star game records.
His No. 99 is retired by the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings, oh, and the remaining 28 NHL clubs. The league honored one of their greatest ever players by retiring No. 99 league-wide.
Of all the records, Stanley Cups and other trophies and awards there are only a small few trophies Gretzky didn't achieve during his playing career, those set aside for the defenseman and goaltenders and the Calder Memorial Trophy.
Gretzky played one season of major junior hockey with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey Association in 1977 and won the league scoring title, breaking the single-season record, winning Sportsman Of The Year and Rookie Of The Year.
It was in Sault Ste. Marie that No. 99 was first used.
Gretzky's idol, Gordie Howe wore No. 9 for the Detroit Red Wings, wanting to wear it, it was already being used by another player. In junior hockey, seniority played a big part in things like jersey numbers and seating arrangements on the bus and in the dressing room amongst other things. Gretzky, being the rookie, would need another number and at the encouragement of his junior coach, Muzz MacPherson, No. 99 was born.
1978, Gretzky began his pro career with the Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association. The league was going head-to-head with the NHL. The NHL forbid any of it's team's to draft or sign any player under the age of 20, so on to the WHA it was. On June 12, 1978 Gretzky signed with Indianapolis owner Nelson Sakalbania
Another first for Gretzky. He didn't have a WHA contract. Gretzky orginally signed a "personal services" contract with then Racers owner Nelson Skalbania. Gretzky at age 17 signed a seven year 1.75 million dollar contract. This contract carried over to Oilers Owner Peter Pocklington.
Gretzky's first professional goal came against the Edmonton Oilers while the Oilers were still playing in the WHA.
Gretzky would move on to the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers when the Oilers were absorbed into the NHL with Hartford, Winnipeg and Quebec in 1979. Gretzky was traded for a reported $750,000.
Gretzky's time in Edmonton was more that special, the Oilers formed one of the best dynasties in NHL history during the 1980s.
The young Oilers were so good that the NHL began to change some of their rules.
It was also reported that the NHL changed it's rule on powerplays because of the offensive strength of Gretzky and Co.
The rule used to be that a penalized player spent the entire length of their minor penalty in the box. The Oilers, led by Gretzky would score two or threegoals, at times while their opponent was shorthanded.
Now the penalized player returns to the ice if a powerplay goals is scored during a minor penalty.
Gretzky was traded to the Los Angeles Kings on August 9, 1988. No. 99 played for the Los Angeles Kings (1988-96), St. Louis Blues (1996), and New York Rangers (1996-99) during his career.
Just over 100 players have had their number retired in the history of the National Hockey League.
Four players, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy and Raymond Bourque have had their number retired by two different teams.
Countless others such as Steve Yzerman, Maurice Richard, Sid Abel, Jean Beliveau and Joe Sakic played their entire career with only one franchise.
While most of this slideshow focused on the jersey numbers from 1-35, there are those special and unforgetable number wih double digits like 66, 77 and of course 99.
The relationship an athlete makes with their number runs true in all sports and becomes a symbol and a brand that continues for years after they retire from playing.
There are those numbers that remind us of the history and tradition of some clubs and there ability to produce great players from different eras.
Dickie Moore and Yvon Cournoyer are a great example of this.
From 1951 until 1979 only two players wore the No. 12 for the Montreal Canadiens. During that span the NHL expanded from six to 21 clubs. Both players were honored during a ceremony on December 12, 2005 by the Montreal Canadiens.
Other notable retired numbers are No. 9 for the New York Rangers as Andy Bathgate and Adam Graves share that honor.
Keith Magnuson and Pierre Polite of the Chicago Blackhawks who will be forever remembered for wearing the No. 3.
Elmer Lach and Herni Richard of the Montreal Canadiens who are forever linked with the No. 16.
For special player like Wayne Gretzky, the entire league retired his number.