MONTREAL – Mention the number 23 in Montreal and one name comes to mind. Bring it up in Hamilton, and well, you’ll find a few who have made it pretty popular over the last few years.
Most of the 16 owners might have one spending their day searching Google but that all changed in 2005-06. That year, Andrei Kostitsyn got the number ball rolling in his sophomore AHL season. Not long into it, the NHL came calling
He got his first taste of the big stage in December 2005 and just over a year later, the Canadiens’ first round pick in 2003 made the jump full-time. At the opening of the 2007-08 campaign, Kostitsyn’s Hamilton jersey found a new owner, a guy who likely had a few of his hand-me-downs before: younger brother Sergei.
|Sergei Kostitsyn |
If you blinked, you likely missed Sergei in a Bulldogs sweater. The younger Kostitsyn stormed out of the gates in his first professional campaign, scoring 22 points in as many games. That earned him a trip to Montreal and he hasn’t looked back since.
With Sergei starting his sophomore season on the Canadiens roster, the door was open for a new owner for that No. 23 jersey. In walked Max Pacioretty
The Habs’ second choice in the first round in 2007 (22nd overall) became the latest prospect to pull the increasingly favorable number over his head at the start of the current season. During the summer, Pacioretty opted to swap his books for Bulldogs and, after a slow start to his professional career, reeled off 12 points in his last 13 games to earn an NHL promotion at the start of the month.
As the Canadiens’ clinic continues to clear out, the 20-year-old could eventually find himself reunited with his Bulldogs teammates. But, if his current stint in Montreal is any indication, the No. 23 might soon be up for grabs once again.
So, who will be next? Given the recent history, there might be quite a few lining up.Heather Engel is a writer for canadiens.com