Damn You, Guillaume Latendresse
Jim Iovino at LCS Hockey points out that Canadiens rookie Guillaume Latendresse has accomplished something this season that no other NHL player will ever be able to match.
Latendresse has taken the one final jersey number to have never been used in an official NHL game:
According to a little-known group called the Society for International Hockey Research, entering the 2006-07 season there was just one number left that was unique in regular-season NHL action. No. 84 had never been worn in an official game, according to those wild and crazy guys at SIHR.
That is until now.
Guillaume Latendresse took the number this season when he made the Montreal Canadiens roster. The big, bruising power forward was a second-round pick by Montreal in 2005 (after being picked second overall in the QMJHL in 2003 after-- who else?-- Sidney Crosby).
However, the 19-year-old winger is pointless and a minus-4 through his first eight NHL contests. So the No. 84 is still a virgin when it comes to scoring in the NHL.
Speaking of virgins-- err, young players with odd numbers-- check out No. 85 of the Florida Panthers. No, that's not the ghost of Petr Klima. That's Rostislav Olesz, a 2004 first-round pick who is in his second season with the Panthers.
And perhaps there's something about the name Rostislav. Rostislav Klesla changed his number this season from 44 to 97. While he said there was no real reason for the change, perhaps No. 44 was bad luck, considering the amount of time Klesla has spent in the trainer's room throughout his career.
Pavel Bure, who came into the league wearing No. 10, switched to No. 96 before the 1995-96 season because... well, just because. He admitted that he wanted to wear something unique for a few seasons and, seeing that there were a lot of No. 10s in the league, he went with 96, which had never been worn in the NHL before then. The meaning of the number has been debated. On one hand, it stood for the month and day he defected to North America (Sept. 6, 1991). On the other hand, it signified the first year he was eligible for citizenship in North America (1996).
Since then, the number has been worn by Tomas Holmstrom (sunshine you, Detroit!), Phil Housley, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Sorry, Pavel, unique has become passé.
So has No. 86. No one had worn that number before last season. But another Canadiens rookie, Jonathan Ferland, donned the sweater for seven games. And yes, he scored a goal.
Ladies and gentlemen, the day of unique numbers in the NHL is over. From here on out, rookies will be hard-pressed to make their claim to a jersey number that they can call their own.
To quote Charlie Brown: Rats!