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Who wore it best?

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NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins-Championshp Parade Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

There have been many noticeable jersey numbers given out in the history of the Penguins franchise. Only two numbers in the Penguins franchise have been retired, #21 of Michel Briere, whose life was unfortunately cut short at the young age of 21 when he was involved in a car accident in 1970. Nobody has ever worn the #21 for the Penguins since, and his jersey was officially retired in January of 2001. The other number retired is of course the #66 of former great Penguins player, and current team owner, Mario Lemieux. There are no words necessary to explain the reasoning behind his jersey hanging in the rafters, as he's one of the greatest athletes of all time. The next number to be retired is most likely going to be Jaromir Jagr's famous #68, which there's plenty of time to argue one way or the other as Jagr may play until he's 68 if a team is willing to give him a contract.

According to hockey-reference.com, the Penguins have given out 77 out of 99 98 possible numbers. Numbers 1-52 have all been assigned to current or former Penguin players. That brings me to the question, who wore it best?

This post is going to be dedicated to the #3. Twenty players have worn the #3 since Al MacNeal from the Penguins inception in 1967 to current Penguins player Olli Maatta. I picked the number 3 because it was the first number that had noticeable names at the top and bottom of the list, so there are many different opinions on who wore it best for Pittsburgh. Also #3 is predominately worn by defenseman, so there should be an equal bias towards stats, although the number spans many decades of changes to the game along with the Penguins organization. There's no wrong answer here, I'm just trying to find something to talk about to kill time until the puck drops again this fall.

Stats aren't everything, and some players have built quite a reputation for themselves and the number they wore, despite not putting up legendary stats. But for the sake of argument, or if you don't feel like looking it up for yourself, I will list every player to wear the #3 in chronological order, followed by the stats they accumulated only in the years the player wore that jersey number.

Without further ado, who wore it best?

*Inaugural year of the Pittsburgh Penguins. From Sydney, Nova Scotia! Won Stanley Cup as coach of Montreal in 1971, three years after his last year in the NHL with Pittsburgh in 1968.

**Traded from Detroit to Pittsburgh on January 17, 1974 for Jack Lynch and Jim Rutherford. Yes, that Jim Rutherford!

***Traded to Buffalo with Darrin Shannon on November 12, 1988 for Tom Barrasso and 1990 3rd round draft pick - Joe Dziedzic

+Two-time Cup winner with Pittsburgh and Barrasso. Traded to Pittsburgh with Ron Francis and Ulf Samuelsson on March 4, 1991 for John Cullen, Jeff Parker, Zarley Zalapski. Traded to Toronto on April 7, 1995 for Drake Berehowsky.

++Traded to St. Louis on December 28, 2000 for Marc Bergevin, one day after Lemieux's return against Toronto. Where were you? I remember.

+++Traded to Dallas on July 15, 1999 for Jason Botterill as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers. That was the first trade Botterill was traded. How bow dat.

Fun facts / trivia knowledge:

  • Penguins have had a player wear #3 in all 5 of their Stanley Cup victories. Grant Jennings; '91, '92, Alex Goligoski; '09, Olli Maatta; '16, '17
  • Including players wearing #3 with Pittsburgh and players that were involved in trades involving players who wore #3 at some point on this list, there are 4 current GMs in the NHL: Jim Rutherford(PIT), Marc Bergevin(MTL), Ron Francis(CAR), Jason Botterill(BUF)
  • Ron Stackhouse has played the most games wearing #3 in Penguins history with 621 games played, and is 9th all-time in games played for the Penguins.
  • Ron Stackhouse leads (unsurprisingly considering games played) goals scored, assists, and penalty minutes. His 343 points rank him at 19th overall in total points in the Penguins history .
  • Despite winning the Stanley Cup as a rookie coach, and with rookie goalie Ken Dryden with MTL in 1971, Al MacNeil was replaced the next season by legendary coach Scotty Bowman, who would go on to win the first of his 9 total Stanley Cups in 1973 with MTL. Bowman won his sixth Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 1992.

Poll:

There are 8 players that stood out the most. Here’s a few quick reasons why this player deserves a vote.

  • Al MacNeil - first player to wear #3 in Pens first year in the NHL. Stanley Cup winning coach three years later with Montreal in 1971, as a rookie coach, with a rookie goalie, on the road in a Game 7, against a heavily favored Black Hawks team, despite not being fluent whatsoever in French. He’s a very interesting hockey story.
  • Tim Horton - Legendary player. Well known name for the donut/coffee shops named after himself. Played for the Pittsburgh Hornets from 1949-52. Died in a car crash while playing for Buffalo in 1974.
  • Ron Stackhouse - most games, goals, assists, and PIM wearing #3 in Pittsburgh. Played in Pittsburgh for 9 years. Was traded to Penguins for current General Manager, Jim Rutherford!
  • Doug Bodger - drafted 9th overall in 1984 draft. Does anyone remember who went #1 that year? Was traded for two-time Cup winning goalie with Pittsburgh Tom Barrasso. That’s not nothing.
  • Grant Jennings - Part of the Ulf and Ron Francis deal. Won two Stanley Cups with said players. That’s not nothing.
  • Mark Eaton - pivotal role in Pens Cup run in ‘09. (The year he switched to #7)
  • Alex Goligoski - very good offensive defenseman in Pittsburgh. Made playoff debut in ‘09 Cup run. Traded for Matt Niskanen and James Neal. That’s definitely not nothing!
  • Olli Maatta - surprised many people and made the team as an 18 year old. Played important role in Penguins back-to-back Cup Championships. Long term contract with Pittsburgh, so his impressive start to his career isn’t finished just yet. Starred in 2017 Cup Parade alongside Justin Schultz.

Poll

Number 3. Who wore it best for Pittsburgh?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Al MacNeil, ‘67-68
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Tim Horton, ‘71-72
    (32 votes)
  • 46%
    Ron Stackhouse, ‘74-82
    (336 votes)
  • 2%
    Doug Bodger, ‘85-88
    (20 votes)
  • 3%
    Grant Jennings, ‘91-95; Cup winner in ‘91-92
    (23 votes)
  • 1%
    Mark Eaton, ‘06-09; Cup winner in ‘09 (Wearing #7)
    (13 votes)
  • 5%
    Alex Goligoski, ‘09-11; Cup winner in ‘09 (Switched from #13 after Guerin trade)
    (43 votes)
  • 34%
    Olli Maatta, ‘13-17; Cup winner in ‘16-17
    (246 votes)
  • 0%
    Other. You can always explain why in the comments.
    (3 votes)
718 votes total Vote Now