Sweater numbers are synonymous with players. Most hockey fans can instantly tell you a great player by the number they wear on their back. There are many different stories about how players became associated with the famous numbers. Many odd and interesting facts surround these numbers as well. As we count down the start of the 2023-24 NHL season, we take a look at the story behind the numbers. Today we continue with sweater number 14. Keep up to date with the series everyday until the start of the 2023-24 NHL season.
Behind the Sweater Number: 14
The First 14s
According to Hockey Reference, 481 players have worn sweater number 14 since since jersey records were kept in the 1950-51 season. However, it does not list any players before then that may have taken the number. Hockey Reference lists all of the Original Six with at least one player in that number. Boston Bruins Hall of Famer Woody Dumart and Detroit Red Wings forward Metro Prystai each netted 20 goals in the 1950-51 season.
As we draw closer to the end of the countdown, we’ll focus more the big-name players that wore the number. We’ll also give more attention to the players that briefly wore sweater number 14. This series will also take a look at the future of the number and who may carry the digits.
There are always a number of players that wore sweater number 14 that would go onto have decent to good careers. However, these were with other numbers. Hall of Famer Doug Bentley ended his career in number 14 with Chicago and the New York Rangers. Tony Granato started his Los Angeles Kings career in 14, but moved onto 21. Trevor Linden spent time with the Montreal Canadiens in the 14 shirt.
Rangers great Jean Ratelle was in 14 before donning his trademark 19. Future Hall of Fame builder Glenn Sather wore 14 to start his Boston career. Travis Zajac ended his 1,000-plus game career with the New York Islanders in sweater number 14.
There have been plenty of great players that have worn the 14 sweater. Players like Dave Keon could make a case for being the best to wear the sweater. However, Brendan Shanahan is the choice for the best to don the digits. Shanahan actually started his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils in the number 11. The Mimico, Ontario native didn’t get 14 until he joined Detroit, but he made the sweater is own.
He became one of the best power forwards in the history of the league with 1,354 points and 2,489 penalty minutes. Shanahan seemed to be one of the glue guys in the Red Wings dominant stretch that netted him three Stanley Cups. Ironically, Shanahan was never really attached to the number as he picked 14 over 12 when he came to Detroit. He did wear 14 for his second time around in New Jersey.
Other 14s and the Future
Keon makes a case due to being one of the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs players of all-time. He won four Stanley Cups and was a fan favourite. There have been other great 14s like Theo Fleury, Kent Nilsson and Dave Andreychuk to name a few. Rene Robert was part of the vaunted French Connection with the Buffalo Sabres. Four-time Cup winner Bob Bourne also bore the number for many seasons. Professional agitator Alexandre Burrows had the number for many seasons.
Main photo by: B Bennett/Getty Images