January 01, 2015

Greatest Hockey Players By Sweater Number: 61-80

Today we continue our look at the top players of all time, categorized by sweater numbers. Let's take a look at numbers 61 through 80.

61 -- Rick Nash - He was once the face of the Columbus Blue Jackets and helped the New York Rangers make the Stanley Cup Final in 2014. He also has been a mainstay with Team Canada, winning Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014.  Cory Stillman and  Maxim Afinogenov also deserve mention here.

62 -- Andrei Nazarov - A few name players have worn 62 on a short term basis: Olli Jokinen, Milan Lucic and Paul Stastny for example. But only the Russian tough guy Andrei Nazarov has ever worn the number 62 with any consistency.

63 -- Mike Ribeiro - Ribeiro, Josef Vasicek and Tyler Ennis are the only players to wear 63 with any regularity.

64 -- Jamie McGinn - Another rarely used number. We'll give Jamie McGinn the edge here over Jason Bonisignore.

65 -- Mark Napier - Interesting story here. Napier, a two-time 40-goal scorer while wearing No. 31 with Montreal, took No. 65 in Edmonton in 1987 and kept it when he was sent to Buffalo. Why? He strongly supported the Cystic Fibrosis 65 roses charity campaign. Obviously Erik Karlsson deserves mention here, too, as well as Chicago's Andrew Shaw.

66 -- Mario Lemieux - There is no doubt as to who is the greatest player to ever wear 66 is. Though it is unlikely any one in the immediate future would have the guts to wear it, the number 66 is not retired league wide like Wayne Gretzky's #99. The other players who briefly wore 66: TJ Brodie, Yanick Dupre, Gino Odjick and Milan Novy. Novy was the only player to wear 66 before Mario Lemieux arrived.

67 -- Max Pacioretty - "Patches" has emerged as one of the NHL's top power forwards, giving him the edge over penalty kill/shootout extraordinaire Michael Frolik. Benoit Pouliot sticks with 67 in his many stops, too.

68 -- Jaromir Jagr - Another obvious answer here. The highest-scoring European-born player in League history chose 68 when he first arrived in the NHL in honour of the year his country (Czech Republic) was invaded by Soviet military. Zigmund Palffy also wore 68 for a couple of seasons.

69 -- Melvin Angelstad -  Angelstad, a career minor-leaguer, was 32 when the Washington Capitals called him up for two games in 2003-04. We'll give him his 15 minutes of fame and choose him over San Jose's Andrew Desjardins for being the first player to ever choose this number.

70 -- Braden Holtby - Washington's fine young goalkeeper is the only player to ever wear 70 with any consistency.

71 -- Evgeni Malkin - Like so many Russians, Malkin wanted to wear #17 in honour of the late Valeri Kharlamov, the most revered Russian player of all time. Not everyone can wear 17 though, so when Malkin had to choose a different number, he reversed the numbers and took 71. JP Dumont, Sebastien Bordeleau, Jiri Slegr and Nick Foligno also deserve a mention here.

72 -- Mathieu Schneider - Unable to wear his usual #27 with the Islanders or Leafs, Schneider did the ol' switcheroo and wore 72. Otherwise no one of note has done much with #72.

73 -- Michael Ryder - Consistent goal scoring threat Michael Ryder is the best of the small lot to wear #73. LA's rookie Tyler Toffoli makes it look very good, too.

74 -- TJ Oshie - Olympic shootout hero TJ Oshie gets the nod over veteran defensemen Jay McKee and John Carlson.

75 -- Hal Gill - Tall Hal Gill is the only player of note to wear 75 consistently.

76 -- PK Subban - Not only has PK Subban emerged as one of the best defensemen in hockey today, but he takes the title as the top #76 of all time, too. There are no serious challengers.

77 -- Ray Bourque - An interesting case here. Bourque started his career in Boston wearing No. 7, but changed to No. 77 on one of the most memorable nights in the history of Boston hockey. In a pre-game ceremony honouring Phil Esposito Bourque peeled off his #7 jersey and give it to Espo. Bourque then revealed the #77 sweater he was wearing underneath. Paul Coffey, Pierre Turgeon and Adam Oates also are known for wearing 77.

78 -- Marc Pouliot - It's not often Marc Pouliot would top Slovak legend Pavol Demitra in any hockey category, but we will be kind to him here. Demitra wore No. 78 during his time in Ottawa before he really established himself as a star in St. Louis. Pouliot, Edmonton's first-round pick in 2003, has 21 goals in 176 NHL games and wore 78 for 4 seasons - more than any other player.

79 -- Andrei Markov - Markov is one of the brainiest defensemen I've ever had the chance to enjoy watching. He gets top billing here because his only serious competition is Alexei Yashin.

80 -- Nik Antropov - #80 is between the giant Kazakh Antropov and goaltender-turned-broadcaster Kevin Weekes.

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