November 20, 2009

Ask The Hockey History Blogger

Besides Wayne Gretzky, who else has worn #99 in NHL history?

This is a pretty common question I get. The answer is 5 other players wore #99, including two who wore it at the same time as Gretzky in the early 1980s.

The first occurrence of number 99 came way back during the 1934-1935 NHL season. The Montreal Canadians had three players wear #99: Joe Lamb, Desse Roche and Leo Bourgault. The story around this has never really been solved. The likely story is the Habs had an extra jersey used for practices with the number 99 on it. Lamb, Roche and Bourgault were all call ups during the season, playing briefly with the Habs. All three likely shared the jersey for their various appearances.

Who was first to wear #99? Again, that's real vague and a question no one seems to know the answer to for sure.

99 would vanish from hockey until Gretzky came along. Toronto's Wilf Paiement (1980-82) and Winnipeg's Rick Dudley (1980-81) also wore.

With Gretzky elevating his game to previously unthinkable levels, the 99 copycats quickly disappeared. No one wanted the attention of being so pompous enough to compare themselves to the Great Gretzky.

UPDATE: Robert over at Eyes On The Prize has the answer to which of the three Habs donned #99 first!

BallHype: hype it up!

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