We don’t have too much of an idea about what the upcoming NHL season will look like yet, so let’s take a break from looking ahead to that and do something fun.
Jersey numbers in every sport are a sacred thing, something that most players cherish. Throughout the span of a franchise, jersey numbers are reused and made famous by different players, so let’s take a look at every jersey number in Hurricanes’ history and the best players to wear each one.
For starters, there are 21 jersey numbers that have never been worn by a Carolina Hurricane (dating back to the franchise’s move from Hartford). Some were worn by Whalers, others were not, but here are those 21 numbers that have never grazed the back of a Carolina jersey: 0, 9, 50, 66, 68, 69, 75, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98 and 99.
One of those numbers, 9, was retired by the Hartford Whalers in honor of Gordie Howe. The Whalers also honored John McKenzie’s 19, but it has been worn a few times by Hurricanes (most recently Dougie Hamilton).
Seventeen more numbers have only been worn by one person in Carolina history. Ironically, both of the Hurricanes’ unconventional goalies, equipment manager turned goalie Jorge Alves (40) and game-winning EBUG David Ayres (90), are the only players in Carolina history to wear the numbers they wore.
Here’s that full list, with the player who wore the jersey number:
2 — Glen Wesley
40 — Jorge Alves
54 — Brett Pesce
60 — Justin Peters
64 — Clark Bishop
65 — Ron Hainsey
67 — Jerome Samson
72 — Nicolas Blanchard
74 — Jaccob Slavin
76 — Brady Skjei
78 — Steven Lorentz (hasn’t actually played for the Hurricanes during the regular season in 78, but has been listed as 78)
79 — Michael Ferland
80 — Kevin Weekes
88 — Martin Necas
90 — David Ayres
91 — Martin Frk
92 — Jeff O’Neill
Of that group, Glen Wesley’s 2 has been retired by the Hurricanes.
The next group of players is the biggest one, the players who are pretty clearly the best in Hurricanes’ history to wear their jersey number.
For a lot of these players, it’s a case of their only competition having just a handful of games played for the Hurricanes. For others, it’s a dominant player whose career numbers are so far beyond any other player in franchise history of that number (see 10, 12, 17, 86).
And for others on this list, it’s just the matter of being the best of three or four players that all were part-time contributors that played just partial seasons for the Canes. Here’s that full list of the best of those jersey numbers, ones where there is a clear-cut top player or no players that really stood out (with some honorable mentions):
1 — Arturs Irbe
3 — Steve Chiasson (HM Jeff Daniels)
7 — Niclas Wallin
8 — Matt Cullen
10 — Ron Francis
12 — Eric Staal
13 — Ray Whitney (HM Bates Battaglia, Warren Foegele)
15 — Tuomo Ruutu
17 — Rod Brind’Amour
18 — Jay McClement (HM Ryan Dzingel)
19 — Dougie Hamilton
20 — Sebastian Aho (HM Riley Nash)
21 — Nino Niederreiter (HM Lee Stempniak)
23 — Martin Gelinas (HM Brock McGinn)
24 — Sami Kapanen
25 — Joni Pitkanen (HM Shane Willis)
26 — Erik Cole
27 — Justin Faulk
28 — Alexander Semin
29 — Martin Gerber
30 — Cam Ward
31 — Anton Khudobin (HM Eddie Lack)
32 — Kris Versteeg
33 — Anton Babchuk (HM Derek Ryan)
34 — Petr Mrazek
35 — Curtis McElhinney (HM Justin Peters)
36 — Jussi Jokinen
37 — Andrei Svechnikov
38 — Tim Conboy
39 — Patrick Dwyer
41 — Andrew Alberts
42 — Joakim Nordstrom
43 — Morgan Geekie
44 — Jay Harrison
45 — David Tanabe
46 — Mike Zigomanis
47 — James Reimer
48 — Jordan Martinook
49 — Victor Rask
51 — Jake Gardiner (HM Jeff Hamilton)
52 — Damian Surma
53 — Jeff Skinner
55 — Danny Markov
56 — Erik Haula
57 — Trevor van Riemsdyk
58 — Chris Terry
59 — Chad Larose
61 — Cory Stillman
62 — Jaroslav Svoboda
63 — Josef Vasicek
70 — Oleg Tverdovsky
71 — Lucas Wallmark
73 — Brett Bellemore
77 — Joe Corvo
86 — Teuvo Teravainen
Of this group, Ron Francis’ 10 and Rod Brind’Amour’s 17 are retired by the Hurricanes.
Now comes the fun group, seven numbers in Canes’ history that require some deeper looks into who the top player to adorn them are.
Seven different players have worn 4 for the Hurricanes, but it is a pair of defensemen that stick out. Aaron Ward wore 4 all five years he played for the Canes, from 2001-06 and then again in 2009-10. Haydn Fleury has worn 4 since he debuted for the Hurricanes in 2017, and the former first-round pick has played the best hockey of his career as of late.
Ward played in 336 games for the Hurricanes, scoring 16 goals, dishing out 51 assists and averaging nearly 19 minutes of time on ice. Fleury has played 132 games and counting, with four goals and 19 assists. He also had two goals in eight games this year in the playoffs, while Ward had 5 points in the 2006 playoffs that ended with a Stanley Cup, including the first goal of game seven of the cup final.
Fleury’s ceiling is high and he’s coming into his own as an NHL defenseman, but this one’s got to go to Ward.
Seven players have worn 5 for the Hurricanes, and it’s a trio of defensemen that have a case for being the best.
Marek Malik, an original Carolina Hurricane, wore 5 from 1998-2003, Frantisek Kaberle had the sweater from 2005-2009, while most recently Noah Hanifin wore 5 from 2015-18.
The Czechoslovakian-born Malik played 262 games for the Hurricanes (as well as 55 for the Whalers), scoring 16 goals to go along with 54 assists. Kaberle was of course a member of the Canes’ Stanley Cup-winning team, playing 214 games for Carolina over four years. He had nine goals and 73 assists during that time, and scored the game-winning goal in game seven of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
Hanifin, who was Carolina’s first-round pick back in 2015, debuted that year and played 239 games during his three years with the Hurricanes. Hanifin had 18 goals and 65 assists during that time, proving his value as a two-way defender.
With all due respect to the Hurricanes’ original number 5, this comes down to Kaberle and Hanifin, but the Stanley-Cup winner will get the nod here.
Another number filled with impactful Hurricanes’ defenseman, number 6 has featured a few stalwarts on the blue line for Carolina.
Bret Hedican and Tim Gleason headline the group which also features, more recently, Klas Dahlbeck and Joel Edmundson. Hedican wore 6 for all six years of his time with the Hurricanes, a six-year span that featured 369 games, 101 points and Stanley Cup.
Gleason wore three different sweaters for Carolina, but he spent his most time in 6. He wore the single-digit number from 2008-15, playing 409 of his 546 games with the Hurricanes in 6. He had nine goals and 73 assists wearing 6 for the Canes.
While Gleason did some good things for the Canes and was part of a fun 2008-09 team, this one clearly goes to Hedican, one of the staples of the early years of the Carolina Hurricanes.
This is a fun one.
During his first tenure with the Carolina Hurricanes, from 2003-09, Justin Williams wore 11 for the Canes. Recently, captain Jordan Staal has adorned the 11, from 2012 on.
Williams played 265 games for Carolina in 11, scoring 81 goals with 120 assists. In the 2005-06 playoffs, Williams had seven goals, 11 assists, which of course included one very important goal.
During his eight years with the Hurricanes, Staal has played 530 games and has 105 goals and 184 assists. Staal has also won over 55 percent of his face offs with the Hurricanes.
Williams had his more productive seasons in Carolina wearing 11, but Staal has now put together eight incredibly solid years that have culminated in Staal earning the captaincy (which Williams also has held, though in a different jersey number).
From a pure productivity standpoint this would go to Williams, but Staal’s long-term tenure in 11 maybe earns him an edge. Either way, it’s somewhat of a toss up.
A lot of different players have worn 14 for the Hurricanes, headlined by a familiar face in Williams. Along with Williams’ second tenure with the Canes, Kevyn Adams, Sergei Samsonov and Nathan Gerbe have been impactful for Carolina in 14.
Starting with Williams, he has played 184 games with 115 points wearing 14 for the Hurricanes. All three of those years of course came at the very end of his career, and one of those years featured Williams with the C on his chest.
Gerbe wore 14 for all three years of his Hurricanes’ career, a span that featured 66 points. Adams wore 14 for four of his five years with Carolina, playing 267 games and scoring 67 points during that time. Samsonov was in 14 for his four years with the Hurricanes, which featured 249 games and 135 points.
Among those three, Samsonov was the most productive, but Williams has earned the honor of Carolina’s best 14 with his late-career production and leadership.
A trio of forwards wore 16 for the Hurricanes from 2006-18, as Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter and Elias Lindholm held the jersey number during that time.
Ladd was the 2005-06 Canes’ 16, as he played 137 games and scored 50 points wearing the sweater. Sutter started his NHL career wearing 16 for the Canes. Over the first four years of his career, Sutter played in 286 games and 107 points.
Lindholm, the Hurricanes’ first-round pick from 2013, debuted in 16 in 2013 and wore it for the Canes until just before his final season with Carolina. Lindholm was a bright spot on some Canes teams that struggled to win games, putting up 144 points in 293 games for the Hurricanes in 16.
Lindholm had some really bright moments for the Hurricanes, at times showing some elite skills as a passer. For that, Lindholm gets the honor of the Canes’ best 16.
Three of the best defensemen in Hurricanes’ history have worn 22, as Sean Hill, Mike Commodore and Brett Pesce have all had the sweater for Carolina.
Hill was the Canes’ first 22, wearing it from the team’s inception until 2004. Hill played in 369 career games for Carolina, scoring 38 goals to go along with 119 assists. In 23 playoff games with the Hurricanes, Hill had eight points.
Commodore was the 22 of the Stanley Cup team in 2006, the first year of his two and a half with Carolina. During that span, Commodore played in 195 games and had 54 points. In the 2006 playoffs, Commodore played in nearly 20 minutes per game and had four points.
Pesce is the Hurricanes’ current 22, a budding star on the blue line for Carolina. After wearing 54 in his first season as a Cane, Pesce switched to 22 and has worn it for the past four years. He’s played 281 games with 86 points wearing 22 for Carolina.
This is a tight one, but for now the edge probably goes to Hill. Pesce has a good chance to pass Hill as Carolina’s best 22 in the next couple years, but he’s not there yet.