Except for 13, every number between 1 and 20 in the NHL has been formally retired by at least one franchise. "I suppose I was quite irritated for a couple weeks" after being trapped with the number, recalls Cammalleri, "but I've worn it ever since." Almost. The Calgary Flames announced in March 2015 that they were removing Cammalleri's number from their roster due to his decision not to play for them anymore.
Number 13 has been retired by nine franchises. It was the first number retired by the Montreal Canadiens in 1939-40 (Jean Béliveau). In 1942-43 the New York Rangers retired both numbers 13 and 88 (when they still used numbers on their jerseys). These are the only two instances when two numbers have been retired at the same time. Since then, no other pairs of numbers have been retired simultaneously.
In 1950-51 the Chicago Black Hawks retired both numbers 13 and 77 (Gordie Howe) because they believed these numbers would help attract fans to their games. This is the only instance where three numbers have been retired at the same time. However, before the season started, the Hawks decided to give back Howe's numbers because of his desire to continue playing. He was returned to the team later in the season.
In 1992-93 the Quebec Nordiques retired both numbers 13 and 77 because they believed these numbers would help attract fans to their games.
87. The No. 87, maybe the most recognizable number in the NHL today, has not been worn by many. Only Pierre Turgeon and Donald Brashear have worn it other than Sidney Crosby. Turgeon was given the number when he was called up to play for the New York Rangers in 1987. Brashear was the only player to wear No. 87 when he was with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992-93. Since then, it has been retired.
Crosby is the latest player to don the No. 87 jersey after it was retired last week by the Pittsburgh Penguins. He is the first player from the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh team to wear it since it was passed down to him. Before Crosby, the last time the number was worn in the NHL was in 2001 when Pierre Turgeon of the New York Rangers wore it during the season. No one else has ever worn it before or since.
Turgeon was the only player to don No. 87 while with the Rangers. He had previously played for the Quebec Nordiques in 1986-87 and was given the opportunity by New York to fill out his roster with a few callups from their American Hockey League team. Turgeon ended up playing seven games for the Rangers without registering a point.
The Canadiens have retired 15 numbers in honor of 18 different players, the most of any NHL franchise. They are: Nos. 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19.
The first two players to be honored by the Canadiens were the ones who wore those numbers when the team was founded in 1909: Dickie Moore and Charlie Querrie. Moore played left wing and Querrie played right wing for the Canadiens from 1909 to 1913. They were both members of the 1912 Stanley Cup champion team that lost the final game of the series (known as the "Backyard Brawl") against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The next three players represented here were all-stars who played for the Canadiens in the early 1930s: Max Kaminsky, Elmer Lach, and Henri Richard.
Wayne Gretzky's number 99 has been retired by the NHL, although the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings have retired it individually. When the Minnesota Wild joined the league in 2000, they held a ceremony to remove number one from circulation as an homage to its supporters. The number 1 was then given to newly drafted player Matt Hackett.
Gretzky announced on May 22, 1999 that he was retiring at the end of the season after completing his career record setting 39th season with the New York Rangers. He finished his career with 2,857 points in only 583 games while leading the powerful Edmonton Oilers to four straight 100-point seasons and five overall playoff appearances, including back-to-back Memorial Cup victories in 1985 and '86. He is also part of history as the first player to score 500 goals and 1000 assists.
Gretzky decided to retire as a Ranger, but the team could not come to terms on a contract extension with him. So at the end of the 1998-99 season, he became an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. On September 15, 1999, just over a month after announcing his retirement, Gretzky returned to the ice when he signed a three-year deal worth $12 million with the new Los Angeles Kings. The deal included an annual salary of $4 million and was reportedly worth up to $7 million depending on how many more seasons he played.