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 76. Keep up to date with the series everyday until the start of the 2023-24 NHL season.
Behind the Sweater Number: 76
The First 76
According to Hockey Reference, 39 players have worn sweater number 76. The jersey made its debut with two players in the 1994-95 season. Both Radek Bonk and Wayne Primeau came onto the scene with that number. Bonk, who played for the Ottawa Senators, went with his birth year like a number of players do. Primeau also went with his birth year in his first season with the Buffalo Sabres.
Both players would eventually move on from sweater number 76. Bonk took the number 14 with the Senators and kept it for the rest of his career. Primeau would wear a myriad of numbers like 15, 18, 19, 20 and 22 in all of his stops in the league. They’d be the first 76s in the NHL.
The Spirit of 76
The most famous player to wear sweater number 76 is P.K. Subban. The dynamic defenceman gave his reason to why he chose the number. Subban picked 76 because he was drafted in the 2007 NHL Draft. This was a meteoric rise compared to him being taken in the sixth round of the OHL Draft.
Subban made a name for himself with the Montreal Canadiens with his flashy offensive play. The Toronto native won the Norris Trophy for top blueliner in the 2012-13 season. He helped the Nashville Predators make the Stanley Cup Final after a blockbuster swap with Shea Weber. Subban also won the King Clancy Trophy and is now an analyst with ESPN.
Brady Skjei has carried sweater number 76 since he broke in with the New York Rangers. Skjei has kept the number for his entire career even after he got traded to the Carolina Hurricanes. Beloved enforcer Andrew Peters had the number right after Primeau and became a fan favourite in Western New York.
Future of 76
Josh Mahura wears sweater number 76 for the Anaheim Ducks. Arturs Silovs had the number for his five games with the Vancouver Canucks. Other players are listed with the number but have yet to debut with their respective big clubs.
Players like Subban may inspire a generation of players to take 76. Subban was a very visible player and still is with his analyst job. Another great 76 could be on the way someday.
Main photo by: Jim Rogash/Getty Images