Our summer blog series continues today with another slew of players who will be wearing new uniforms in the fall. As usual, we start with a big name. After eight seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Marian Gaborik left the team that drafted him and joined the New York Rangers.
A photo currently on display on the Rangers' web site shows Gaborik posing in the locker room in his new blue sweater. And when he hits the ice in October, he'll be sticking with the same No. 10 he's worn all his career.
It's quite possible the Montreal Canadiens are responsible for signing the most new players this offseason, so it should be no surprise that coverage has spanned two parts of this series. Last time, we looked at Mike Cammalleri and Scott Gomez. Today, we'll look at five other guys.
The image above was created for the Habs' web site for a great article about the sweater numbers selected by the rest of their new free agent signees. I highly suggest reading the article, but if you don't have time for that, I'll summarize.
Lightning draftee Paul Mara will return to the No. 22 jersey he first wore in Tampa 10 years ago. Stanley Cup champ Travis Moen will keep the No. 32 he wore during his four-year stint in Anaheim. He wore No. 24 as he finished out last season with San Jose and, oddly, No. 59 as a rookie with Chicago in 2003.
Brian Gionta will switch from No. 14, which he'd worn in New Jersey since 2001, to No. 21. Tomas Plekanec currently dons the No. 14 for the Canadiens. The article mentions that Gionta will be the 46th player in the 100-year team history to wear No. 21. Only No. 20 has been more popular with 55 players having skated with it.
The No. 75 sweater you see above actually belongs to Hal Gill this season, selected for his birth year. Gill previously wore No. 2 with Pittsburgh, but it's been retired in Montreal. During the first 10 years of his career, Gill donned the No. 25 in Boston and Toronto. Mathieu Dandenault, currently an unsigned free agent, wore it last year for the Habs.
That leaves us with only Jaroslav Spacek, who will stick with No. 6. Spacek began his career 10 years ago with the Panthers, wearing No. 8 and later wore No. 3 with the Blackhawks and Blue Jackets. It was when he made his return to Chicago in 2005 that Spacek began using No. 6, and has done so ever since, including the past three years with the Sabres.
I'll finish off this part of the Sweater Switch series with what I think has been the most interesting jersey number story of the summer. I imagine fans always wonder how players handle it when their preferred number is in use on their new team.
I know we already covered Martin Havlat with a photo in Part 1, but via his Twitter account on Tuesday, the new Wild member updated inquiring fans, since Derek Boogaard has the No. 24 he wore in Chicago.
"For everyone asking, I will be wearing number 14 with the Wild," Havlat tweeted, "I got into an arm wrestling match with Boogie over 24 and lost!"
That's it for another edition. I'll keep following these number stories throughout the summer.
I have some clarifications to make in response to some of the comments. As Tom D mentioned, Marian Gaborik hasn't exactly worn No. 10 for his entire NHL career.
In fact, as this picture (left) clearly shows, Gaborik wore No. 82 for a short time at the beginning of his rookie year with the Wild. (Miss those green jerseys, by the way.) He was born in 1982 so we can safely assume that to be the significance.
Tom D and another commenter, Aaron, also point out that Hal Gill originally wore his birth year, No. 75, for a short time at the start of his career with the Bruins.
I've been unable to find any photos or roster archives to support this claim, but I'm sure if it's out there, someone will send in a link and we can set things straight here.
And finally, as Dan notes, I forgot to mention that the Blackhawks will be introducing Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky to local media this afternoon. Let's hope they'll be wearing their actual jerseys so I can offer up pictures in Part 4.
The Lightning held a press conference yesterday with Ohlund and Walker but the team handed them each No. 09 "draft day" jerseys, which is incredibly odd.
Either the pair had yet to choose their new numbers or the team was too lazy to actually make them real jerseys. Whatever the case, I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the Hawks.