Ice hockey has a deep heritage, and its own quirky culture of myth and superstition. Now that you are well on your way to becoming a real ice hockey player you should give some thought to what your jersey number should be when you play on a real ice hockey team in a league.
Each number has its own unique history and plenty of stories to tell. By convention goalie numbers are either number 1 or something in the thirties, defencemen usually wear single digit numbers but not a 1 or a 9, typically.
The rest are for forwards, but be careful because there are 3 numbers you should never consider wearing under any circumstances otherwise you will be laughed out of the dressing room, or off the ice.
99 – The Great One
There is not much to say there, it is a sacred hockey number. Unless you are the Great One, this number is completely off limits to any hockey player anywhere in the known universe.
It is retired in the NHL, and pretty much around any hockey leagues in North America, and quite likely in the whole world. There has never been, and probably will never be a player of this caliber again.
It is pretty funny, in a terrible way, to see someone wearing a 99 in a beer league hockey game. Your first thought should be, who does this person think they are and how dare they wear 99?! Show some respect.
Don’t wear 99, unless you instantly want to become the villain on and off the ice. Even the refs notice these kinds of shenanigans, and do you think they would be inclined to watch you a little closer with digits like these?
Then there is the other team, as soon as they see a player wearing 99 on the other side in the warm up immediately they think – “douchebag”. Do you want to be known as the “douchebag” every time you step on the ice? Your own teammates will probably be thinking along the same lines.
So please, please, please do not wear 99 under any circumstances. (If somehow you did not know who 99 is, and a friend played a cruel practical joke on you, do us all a favour, change your jersey number immediately!)
69 – The Sex Joke
If you thought 99 would land you in trouble, wait till you try 69 on for size. Like really, do you want to be the butt of a joke every time you step on the ice?
There have only been two players in the NHL who have worn this number, and where do you think they are now? Sure it is funny for about 2 microseconds, but is it really worth angering the hockey gods? No self-respecting hockey player would ever willingly choose 69 on purpose…
Just in case you were wondering who the two players are. Melvin Anglestad is one. Angelstad, a career minor-leaguer, was 32 when the Washington Capitals called him up for two games in 2003-04.
The other is Andrew Desjardins, who was given the number by the Sharks as a joke at the end of the 2010-11 season. He kept it for a few seasons before getting traded to the Hawks, after which he promptly changed his number.
So if you want to be a joke on the ice, wear 69. Otherwise do not touch this number with a 10 foot pole. No pun intended.
Any 3 Digit Number
A professional hockey team has at most 23 players on its roster. Typically two are goalies, seven are defencemen, and the rest are forwards. 12 are slotted on first to fourth lines and two are riding the pine until someone gets injured, watching the game from the press box. All game scoresheets have room for a two digit number, and so all stats systems are designed with being able to enter two digit numbers.
Unless you don’t like scoring goals or getting apples, don’t be cute and put a 3 digit number on the back of your jersey. Refs will most often give your points to someone else on the team during the game. And if they manage to convince the scorekeeper it is a good idea to give you points, when the scoresheet gets entered, someone will need to do something with this unusual 3 digit number.
Most likely whoever has the closest number to your monstrosity will get all the genoes, and the apples on the website! You’d only have yourself to blame for being cute when your stats show zeros for the season.
Bonus Numbers You May Want To Avoid
13 – Can be lucky, can be unlucky. Just ask left winger Robin Burns who donned it in 1974-75 for the Kansas City Scouts, then proceeded to go a combined minus-80 over two seasons. The Scouts then left for Denver, coincidence?
66 – Super Mario – you’d have to be pretty good to keep up with these digits, look him up if you don’t know who he is. Also is 99 upside down, wait what?! So unless you possess the same prowess, best to avoid it for now.
87 – Sid the Kid – you probably do know who he is and he is pretty good, so you should treat this number with respect. Right?
88 – Lindros – need we say more? On the other hand Patty Kane wears this number so maybe the stigma is off.
30 – (if you are a Calgary fan) – this is Mike Vernon, the only goalie in Flames history to win a Stanley Cup.
31 – (if you are an Edmonton fan) – this is Grant Fuhr, he also played for the Flames but yeah, he was pretty good with the Oilers.
Any that we’re missing?