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 4. Keep up to date with the series everyday until the start of the 2023-24 NHL season.
Behind the Sweater Number: 4
According to Hockey Reference, 368 players have worn sweater number 4 since since jersey records were kept in the 1950-51 season. However, it does not list very many players before then that may have taken the number.All of the Original Six teams had at least one player wear the number during the 1950-51 season. The Montreal Canadiens had five players wearing the number during that season. Boston also had three players taking the number in that campaign.
The number four is one of the top numbers for defencemen. There have been a few forwards that have taken the number, but blueliners have been the ones that have carried the number the most.
There are always a number of players that wore sweater number 4 that would go onto have decent to good careers. However, these were with other numbers. Hall of Famer Leo Boivin wore four for one season with the Detroit Red Wings. Ron Francis wore number four for the Hartford Whalers early in his career. Sergei Gonchar also briefly held the numeral for the Washington Capitals. Hall of Famer Guy Lapointe had sweater number 4 with the St Louis Blues.
Curtis Leschyshyn had the four sweater for the Minnesota Wild. Marty McSorley had the number four for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Allan Stanley donned the digit during his time with the Chicago Black Hawks.
Two Legendary Fours
There have been some intense debates about who is the best to wear a certain number. Sweater 19 was one of the more intense ones, but the one for number four was intense. There are two amazing candidates wore sweater number 4 in Bobby Orr and Jean Beliveau. Orr is arguably the greatest defenceman of all time and revolutionized the game. He had the number two in his time in juniors, but that was Eddie Shore‘s number with Boston. The winner of eight straight Norris Trophies was given four after Al Langlois was injured.
Beliveau had a few different numbers before settling on number four. He had 20, 12, and 17 before he ended up in the famous sweater number. Beliveau won 10 Stanley Cups as a player and added two Hart Trophies and the first Conn Smythe winner. The stately Canadiens player was one of the greatest players in the game and they waived the waiting period for Hall of Fame entry.
There have been plenty of great players to wear sweater number 4. Aurele Joliat, Red Kelly and Hap Day were some of the great early number fours. Other great players that donned the number were Scott Stevens, Bill Gadsby, Kevin Lowe, Mark Howe, Vincent Lecavalier and Rob Blake. Kevin Hatcher, Ron Greschner, Roman Hamrlík, Uwe Krupp, Chris Phillips and others had solid careers in the number.
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