Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by swiftwin, May 24, 2011.
Has a skater (non-goalie) ever worn #1 on their jersey?
I don't think so, but I don't have time to confirm:
Burke Marty -- D -- MTL -- 1928-29
Cleghorn Sprague -- LW/D -- BOS -- 1926-28
Gardiner Herb -- D -- MTL -- 1926-28
Siebert Babe -- D -- MTL -- 1936-39
Smith Glen -- RW -- CHI -- 1950-51
Similarly, why is it that a good majority of goalies wear #s in the 30s?
Ritchie McGrath from my old roller hockey team, lol
Goes back to when numbering was first developed. In the mid-1910s in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association the players on each team wore numbers corresponding to their position. Goalies wore 1, point and coverpoint wore 2 and 3, rover wore 4, and the forwards wore 5, 6 and 7.
Gradually teams began to add substitute players to the roster, so that they wouldn't all have to play the full 60 minutes. These subs were given numbers after 7.
Typically a goalie played the whole game, and there was usually only one goalie on the roster. If the goalie got injured they would have to replace him with someone else: sometimes another player on the team, sometimes just an amateur in the audience, sometimes even the coach. (Lester Patrick, coach of the Rangers in 1928, took over as goaltender when Lorne Chabot was injured in the Stanley Cup Finals.)
After Georges Vezina of the Canadiens died Herb Gardiner and later Marty Burke, both defencemen, started wearing #1, while Vezina's replacement, George Hainsworth, wore spare numbers (10, 12). Hainsworth later wore #1 but it was the the beginning of a trend which saw replacement goaltenders wear whatever spare number was left over.
As the number of players allowed on a roster began to rise so did these spare numbers. Eventually by the '60s, when the teams would carry a backup full-time, they were well into the 20s. Roger Crozier wore 22 while backing up Terry Sawchuk in Detroit. Johnny Bower's backup, Don Simmons, wore 24. Charlie Hodge wore 25 in Montreal. Others wore the number 30 because the 20s were reserved for players on the bubble who didn't make it on the team at the start of the season but could be called up. Denis DeJordy and Gilles Villemure wore 30 behind Glenn Hall and Eddie Giacomin.
Eventually 30 became synonymous with goalies just as 1 had, especially after tandems began to take hold in the late '60s. Sawchuk wore 30 in Toronto when he was a tandem with Bower. Bruce Gamble took the number 30 after Sawchuk left. Doug Favell wore 1 in Philly, while Bernie Parent wore 30. Eventually the 'backups' wearing 30 started becoming the starter, like Gerry Cheevers did in Boston with Eddie Johnston. Many of the new starters after the 1967 expansion were former backups on the Original Six teams and they elected to keep 30, like Cesare Maniago in Minnesota.
Often if a team carried three goalies they would be numbered 1, 30 and 31 (like Chico Resch, Gerry Desjardins and Billy Smith for the Islanders), or 1, 29 and 30.
Some '70s goalies started picking numbers other than the more 'standard' 1-29-30-31, for the sake of being different. Tony Esposito picked 35 in Chicago. Gilles Meloche wore 27 in California.
After Patrick Roy started wearing 33 in Montreal (only because 30 and 35 were already taken) goalies started wearing the rest of the 30s numbers.
^ Thanks, I have always wondered the answer to that question.
Don "Smokey" McLeod wore #24 in his lone season with Philly in 71-72 before jumping to the WHA.
I posted a discussion about goalie numbers back here:
Parent was the last starting goalie who wore number 1 to win a cup.
I thought that was crazy when I first heard that.
He also wore #30 that season.
There are many more examples of 'odd-ball' numbers from that time. Perhaps the best known that I didn't mention was John Davidson's 00.
I also failed to mention that on some teams ALL of the goalies would wear #1; this was more common in the '50s and earlier. It's not that they only had the one goalie jersey: two guys would have two completely separate jerseys with the number 1 on it.
I think the last example of that was Jacques Plante and Glenn Hall in St. Louis. It was a weird, weird set up they had in '68-'69. They would alternate starts, each wearing number 1. For games they were not starting they didn't even bother to dress: either Plante or Hall would spend the game up in the press box and they had a THIRD goalie on the bench for emergencies. They had three back-ups that season: Robbie Irons, Gary Edwards and Ted Ouimet, each of whom only played in a single game (Irons and Edwards played just a few minutes until the other 'starter' went down to the dressing room, put on their gear and took over; Ouimet played one complete game).
Unbelievable Hoser. Well done!. You have obviously collected much in way of anecdotal information in order to form so comprehensive a history on the subject, something Ive always found interesting (numbers & assignments) particularly as Im a former goalie (#1). Just curious; any idea why Tretriak would wear 24 (oops, 20)?. Who was #1 (72) or was there one?. Ive also noticed odd numbers in European goalies from Finland to France. 5, 9. Just bizarre.
I couldn't tell you why Tretiak wore what he wore. Supposedly he wore #20 playing for the Red Army team in the Soviet League and despite disapproval from the coaches he was allowed to wear 20 when he played for the Soviet Union internationally.
In '72 goalie Victor Zinger wore #1; he was Tretiak's backup in the games in Canada. Alexander Sidelnikov was the backup at the games in Moscow, and he wore 27.
I'm not entirely sure where the numbers from European goalies come from, I don't really know the traditions. Back in the day they tended to follow the Canadian custom of the goalie wearing 1, but as they added back-up goaltenders it seemed their numbering was haphazard and continues to be haphazard. I've heard the Soviet tradition was that the starting goalie wore #1 and the back-up #2 but I have no idea what numbers the goalies wore in the Soviet League.
Russian and Scandinavian goalies still tend to stick with 1, 29 or something in the 30s, with the odd outlier here and there. A lot of Russians wear 20 in reverence of Tretiak, I think.
The Czechs, Slovaks, Germans, Swiss? They seem to wear whatever the hell they want. It's not uncommon to see them wear 1, 20, 30, 30-something, but nor is it unusual to see them wear 66, 84, 51 or 3...
What in the world? I can't think of a single legitimate reason to have a backup other than your second goalie.
Plante and Hall were both in their 40s,and their rest was more important than having them put on the gear and sit on the bench.
I could even understand sitting on the bench without gear on, though that would seem a bit lazy. But why did they need to be in the press box so bad that the team had to go out and find 3 extra roster players?
Well,Plante and Hall were odd ducks.
Hall would stay on the farm intead of going to camp until a week before the season started.
Plante was notorious for demanding things be done how he wanted.He put the first facemask on against his coach's orders,remember.
St.Louis was so fortunate as an early expansion team to be able to split two guys that good that they accomodated them.
Edit: farm team was in KC,so it wasn't hard to rotate the extra goalies.
Hall and Plante were that damn good. They won the Vezina Trophy together that year.
Scotty Bowman realized this system was a little dumb and unfair to the prospect goalie sitting on the bench; better to play the young goalies than have them sit and watch Hall and Plante. Robbie Irons and Gary Edwards spent the next year with the Central League team in Kansas City, while Ted Ouimet was loaned to the San Diego Gulls of the Western League. Instead of alternating the starter between Hall and Plante the Blues acquired a third goalie, Ernie Wakely, to share duties with the two vets (Wakely was no youngin' either, I think he was 28 or 29).
As I understand it Bowman would rotate the starter between the three of them, Wakely usually sat on the bench to back up Plante and Hall, and when Wakely started they would alternate between Plante and Hall as the dressed backup.
(When Wakely (#31) joined the team Plante changed his number to 30.)
At the end of the '69-'70 season the Blues traded away Plante, who was 41 at the time, so that he wouldn't get picked up by one of the expansion teams in the draft (the feeling was this would be a disservice to a goalie of his caliber, and they couldn't keep all three of Wakely, Hall and Plante). Wakely became the starter as Hall was 39 or 40 at the time and at the end of his career, and he just couldn't do it anymore. Ironically Hall retired at the end of the '70-'71 season while Plante had a few more productive years in Toronto and Boston, and even a year in the WHA with the Oilers. In retrospect they should have traded Hall away.
The Blues mostly kept tandems going throughout the '70s (Jacques Caron, Wayne Stephenson, John Davidson, Ed Staniowski, Phil Myre, etc.) until they reacquired Mike Liut after the '79 merger with the WHA.
Here's something I put together a few years ago to explain why certain goaltenders wear certain numbers:
It overlaps Hoser's excellent synopsis quite a bit.
Viktor Konovalenko the Soviet National Team goalie wore #1 until he retired after the 1971 WC. Vladislav Tretiak as his heir apparent wore #20 when he started with the Soviet National Team in 1970 and continued to wear #20 even after #1 became available post Konovalenko.
Thats interesting, and thanks. Personally, Id like to see the choice of numbers regulated. Numbers 1&30 for the goaltennders; single digits for defencemen and the odd forward etc, with nothing higher than 28 for a skater. I know, Im a picky nasty traditionalist.
Sounds very Dostoevskian. Played for Torpedo Gorky (what a handle huh?) from 58-72. League MVP in 70. Had an arena named after him. Funny, I dont remember him at all, nor do I actually ever re-call having watched the Soviet National Team play at all in the 60's. Strange.
Viktor Konovalenko passed away in 1996. Remember seeing him with touring teams in the sixties when they would play at the Forum in Montreal. Similarities with Gump Worsley.
Evgeny Belosheikin wore #20 after you-know-who. Tikhonov and apparently some others had hopes of him becoming 'a new Tretiak'? It never quite happened, I'm told!
Theo Fleury wore #1 in one game while he was playing in Finland during lockout. The jersey did usually belong to Jari Halme, backup goalie of the team.
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