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.