Skip to main content

Sawchuk, Messier jersey leaders on 1-11-11 @NHLdotcom
What's in a number?

As we celebrate a day that only comes around once a century -- 1-11-11 -- it's a great time to reflect on some of the top players in NHL history who wore those respective numbers.

Prior to the start of the 2010-11 season, columnist John Kreiser wrote a series of articles detailing the top players in the League's history by jersey number, from 00 all the way to 99.

In honor of today's date, here's a look back at his selections for the top No. 1 and No. 11 along with runners-up and some of the other notable NHL players to wear those numbers.

The complete lists were broken down from 00-33, 34-66 and 67-99.

Who's your pick for the best all-time player to wear No. 1 and No. 11? Cast your vote in our fan poll.

1 -- Terry Sawchuk

The owner of the NHL records for wins and shutouts until Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur came along wins a close race with a number of Hall of Famers. Sawchuk wore No. 1 from the time he broke into the League with Detroit in 1949-50 until he went to Toronto in 1964-65 and took No. 30 because his old number was owned by Johnny Bower.


Jacques Plante
-- A six-time Stanley Cup winner for the Canadiens, he was also the first goalie to wear a mask in regulation play on a regular basis and to regularly play the puck outside the crease.

Also in the mix:

Georges Vezina -- The man whose name is recognized each year by the trophy bearing his name given to the League's elite goaltender, he won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Canadiens and started 327 consecutive games in the regular season and 39 in the postseason.

Glenn Hall -- Nicknamed "Mr. Goalie", he won the Calder Trophy and was a three-time winner of the Vezina while playing for the Red Wings, Black Hawks and Blues. Hall also made popular the "butterfly" style of goaltending.

Johnny Bower -- He changed his name from Johnny Kiszkan during his first season of pro hockey to make it easier for sports writers, then led the Maple Leafs to three Stanley Cup wins in a row from 1962-64.

Ed Giacomin -- One of the classic stand-up goaltenders, he led the League in games played for four straight seasons while with the Rangers, in shutouts on three separate occasions and shared a Vezina with teammate Gilles Villemure in 1971.

Bernie Parent -- He put together two of the finest seasons ever by a goaltender as the Flyers won Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, with his 47 wins in 1973-74 standing as an NHL record for over three decades.

11 -- Mark Messier

Messier is so renowned for his leadership skills that it's easy to forget he put up 1,887 points, the second-highest total behind longtime teammate Wayne Gretzky. He also scored 694 goals despite reaching the 50-goal mark just once in his career. He's beloved in two cities -- Edmonton, where he helped the Oilers to five Stanley Cups, and New York, where he appropriately scored the goal that ended the Rangers' 54-year championship drought in 1994.


Mike Gartner
-- The fifth player in NHL history to reach the 700-goal milestone, his career was marked both by its longevity and consistency, as he co-holds the record of 15 straight 30-goal seasons.

Also in the mix:

Daniel Alfredsson -- The long-time captain of the Ottawa Senators, he became the 75th player to reach 1,000 career points earlier this season in grand fashion, recording a hat trick against the Sabres.

Gilbert Perreault -- Known as one of the most talented stickhandlers and creative playmakers in the game, the center for the prolific "French Connection" line is the Sabres' all-time leader in games, goals and points. 

Bill Quackenbush -- The first defenseman ever to win the Lady Byng Trophy after playing the entire 1948-49 season without taking a penalty, he was one of the elite offensive blueliners of his generation and played in eight All-Star games.

Brian Sutter -- The second oldest of the Sutter brothers, he's the only one to have his jersey number retired by a team, as the St. Louis Blues did him the honor in 1988. Sutter also coached four NHL teams for a total of over 1,000 games.

Do you agree with the picks of Sawchuk and Messier, or is someone else on the list more worthy? Cast your vote in our fan poll.

View More

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.