The Numbers Game

Jason Gregor
June 09 2009 11:59AM

numbergame

Growing up 17 was my favourite number. I really don’t know why. Jari Kurri wasn’t my favourite Oiler; Glenn Anderson was, but I never liked the look of single digits on a jersey. And very few scorers wore single digits so I didn’t.

I tried to get 17 on every team I played for, thinking that I would play better if I had that number. Since I never went on to the NHL or anywhere close, clearly that wasn’t the case.

Some guys are really superstitious about their number, while others happily take whatever they get when they get to the next level. Some players like Visnosky just reverse the number when they go to a new team. He couldn’t wear #17 with the Oilers, so he just switched to #71.

A recent trend has offensive guys wearing their birth year like Hemsky and Gagner, but that trend will clearly stop in 2018, because I doubt offensive guys will be wearing 00, or 01. You might see it in 2022, if a forward wants to emulate Jean Beliveau or Vinny Lecavlier and wear #4. And again in 2025 when #7 is an acceptable number for an offensive guy considering Hall of Famer and three-time Hart Trophy winner Howie Morenz wore it.

My oldest nephew, Liam, is entering bantam and his favourite player is Patrick Kane, so he tries to get 88 whenever possible. It isn’t just kids who wear their favourite player’s number. Marty Reasoner wore 19 because of Joe Sakic…Okay that isn’t true, but I bet he liked the comparison.

Numbers are an intriguing part of sport. How many of you remember that Paul Coffey wore 74 when he played for the Bruins because both 7 and 77 were already retired? Or that Glenn Anderson wore 36 because it was a multiple of nine and when added together they equaled nine?

Or that Dustin Penner broke in to the NHL wearing #76. When you get a random high number like that at camp you normally aren’t expected to be a mainstay.

Number 15 has been worn by 28 different Oilers, the most in their history, and it is easy to see why since none of them lasted very long in Edmonton. Kent Nilsson was the best out of the group, but Kurt Brackenbury was the most memorable in my mind. I got the numbers from the Oilers media guide and I did find this link online.

** I should point out that the online link has a few that the Oilers media guide doesn’t so I’ll go with the Oiler media guide. They have Buchberger wearing #15, but he only wore #16. When he got called up Steve Graves was wearing #15. Kyle Brodziak also never wore #22, but the online list is still fairly accurate.***

There are 17 days left until the draft, and in that time we will probably hear 1700 different scenarios in how the first ten picks will pan out.

It doesn’t sound like the Oilers will get into the top three, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, but the possibility exists to move up from the ten slot. Most think the top three will be Tavares, Hedman and Duchene and they are probably right, but I spoke with a scout from Colorado and he was raving about hulking D-man Jared Cowan. I got the impression that they will at least entertain him, but considering the Avs took two D-men and a goalie with their first three picks in 2007 and a D-man and goalie with their first two picks in 2008 the good money is that they’ll take the forward Duchene.

All the speculation about which team will move up or down won’t happen until the morning of the draft. Very rarely do trades happen a week in advance of the draft. Why would you try to move up now when no one knows how the draft will play out? The deals will come the morning and afternoon of the 26th.

Currently none of the top five teams are willing to part with their picks, but that could change on the 26th. Brian Burke is telling every one in The Leafs Nation that he wants to move up, and when it doesn’t happen he can say, “I tried.” The cost to move into the top three, if you aren’t NYI, TB or COL will be a lot, and the risk doesn’t match the reward. If Burke wants in the top two it will cost him Luke Schenn and the #7, why would he even consider that?

A keeping with 17 it is nice to see that two of the best sharp shooters, Kovalchuk and Carter are wearing it. Outside of Brind’Amour, Kesler, Dubinsky, Lucic, and Mike Rupp I can’t think of any others. Nope, just remembered Laraque wore it in Montreal this year. I’m sure there are others, but without looking I can’t recall them. When Kovalchuk is done playing he’ll be close to Kurri’s 601 goals, but I don’t think he’ll be in the same category as overall player. But it’s nice to see a sniper pulling on #17.

Oil droppings

  • Expect an announcement on who the Springfield coach will be next week, and I’ll be shocked if it isn’t Rob Daum. He deserves it, and many of the players liked what he brought for the final two months last year.
  • I can’t see the Oilers offering Matt Roy, Glenn Fisher, Stephane Goulet, Carl Corazzini, David Rohlfs or Sebastion Bisaillon contracts this summer. They really want Ryan Stone and Ryan Potulny back. Look for them to go after guys with size and skill this summer.
  • Expect Rob Schremp to sign a one-year deal. After that he would have to clear waivers, and he can force them to keep him. I would expect a one-year deal for Brule as well.
  • Jason Krog’s name keeps coming up as a guy they should go after because he is a scoring stud in the AHL, but look for him to sign a contract in Russia similar to what Omark received; $1.2 million a year.
  • All of the speculation about an Oilers/Kings deal is just that right now. A source within the Oilers said there hasn’t been any discussion to this point, and in fact he be surprised if the Kings moved their 5th pick.
  • I still have no clue on who the second assistant coach will be for the Oilers, if they sign one, but Perry Pearn won’t be the guy. Look for a younger guy, who is good at breaking down film to get the nod.
  • The Panthers are looking to move the rights to Jay Bouwmeester, similar to what Nashville did with Hartnell and Timonen a few years back, and they’ll settle for a 2nd rounder even though they would love a 1st. They might have to take some salary in return to make it happen, but Bill Torrey has the green light to make something happen if he can.
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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#51 Hemmertime
June 09 2009, 08:02PM
Trash it!
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17 does make you play better. Let no one tell you different. I wouldn't play Lacrosse or Baseball in any other # (except for that 1 year, when I was the youngest - and crappiest - even though I had a decent one, 19, I still blame it).

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#52 BruceM
June 11 2009, 02:56PM
Trash it!
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props
And very few scorers wore single digits so I didn’t.

Gregor: You're betraying your age, or should I say, your youth. In my own distant youth, snipers wore #9: Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Andy Bathgate, Johnny Bucyk. Howe changed from #17 (!) to #9 as a young player, supposedly to gain access to a coveted lower berth on the train.

As for "Oil Droppings", that's the name of my blog!

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