Friday, August 17, 2007

Habs famous numbers

A lot of Habs history coming to the surface these days as members of the 50s, 60s and 70s dynasties pass on.

I don't know much about Trader Sam Pollock, but I have of course read the "Lions in Winter" book, which gave me a pretty good idea of how shrewd a GM he was. He certainly played by his own rules and didn't let convention stand in the way of making a championship team. That Guy Lafleur story is legendary, of course. Not to be overlooked are his choices of coaches, his ability to keep the right players together (coax them from their desire to retire), and his eye for talent in the early days of thee draft. Rest in peace Mr. Pollock. Our thoughts go out to your family and friends.

Dave Stubbs and the guys at have had Habs history on the mind
lately too, even getting into when Plekanec changed his number. Big news in Montreal! Following that bombshell they published a list of all the numbers ever donned by Habs over the years. it made for an interesting read, and got me thinking about lots things number-related.

Firstly, it's crazy how many Hall of Famers wore the same numbers. Secondly, even though we've lost all those numbers to retirement, with a few more to go soon, there are plenty left – many not under any threat at all.

The other thing I noticed was number 13.

It hasn't been used on the Habs since 1922 (even though I briefly convinced myself they must be wrong about Vladimir Vujtek's number). Perhaps this fact is not that surprising, given the number's notoriety and inherent unluckiness. Obviously the Canadiens banned the use of the number, the same way the builders of many high-rises have done (come on, I'm not taking an apartment on the 14th floor, I'm not stupid).

I do remember Selanne wearing 13, and it didn't seem to do him any harm that year...

This led me to another question: which other numbers should be banned?

I have a couple of ideas as to how the banished number list should be established:

1) Any bad years for the Canadiens franchise should be banned.
This would include, among other possibilities:

67 – Though a good year for Montreal as a city and for baseball here, it was the missing year in another 5-year run. Some other team won...

94 – Missed the playoffs after the Cup, and Youppi, our new mascot, was shafted hard.

All numbers from 96-98 – The Montreal Forum is closed. No hockey and Nicholas Cage films a movie there (ugh).

2) Numbers that just aren't working for players This would include, among other possibilities:

53 – Racicot, Fitzpatrick and Sylvain Blouin. Do I need to explain?

54 – Traverse

59 – Jarventie

95 – Berezin, Olivier Michaud

I do have some reservations about these numbers being banned though, as Patrick Roy did pretty well for himself with what was up till his time a pretty mediocre number. Though number 33 with Riley and Sevigny would never have been up for complete banning.

In addition to these numbers, I also think 66 should be taken out of circulation in honour of the greatest offensive player to come from Montreal, and in my opinion, anywhere. It would be silly to see someone who couldn't wear 66 with the same presence and flair as Mario did.

I wonder if anyone had a little chat with Brisebois about the number 43 after he resigned. It's not really been a great number over the years. Brunet traded it in quickly, as did Cassels, and Brisebois ran the number out of town. I'm not sure his new choice of number (allegedly for Colorado reasons) is much better. The last sweater emblazoned with 71 didn't exactly leave a legacy of long success. We'll see if it lasts.

At least 71 has hope as it stands for beating the odds (or the Orrs). So Brisebois did well on that count.

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