On Sunday, Rangers fans will say watch the No. 3 rise to the rafters at Madison Square Garden knowing that no Blueshirts player will ever wear it in a game again.
Indeed, the permanence of a number retirement will be felt right away, because the final Ranger to wear the number, current defenseman Michal Rozsival
, will be playing his first game in a new number on Sunday with his old number hanging up above him.
Sunday's pregame event is a tribute to the legacy of both Harry Howell and Andy Bathgate, but since No. 9 has been out of circulation for many years now, the No. 3 will make history in becoming the first Rangers number to go straight from active service to retirement.
Recognition of Howell's remarkable contribution to the Rangers is sure to be emotional for all Rangers fans and will stir memories of many other men who have worn that number. In fact, No. 3 has been worn by a Rangers player in 79 of the team's 83 seasons, making it one of the most enduring numbers in franchise history.
Through its 83 years in New York, Rangers No. 3 was worn in nearly 2,500 games, and the number was worn by a defenseman in all but two of those games. Fern Perreault
, who borrowed Fred Shero's jersey during a brief game call up in 1948 will go down in history as the only Rangers forward to appear in a regular-season or playoff game wearing No. 3
Howell was one of 18 Rangers players to wear the No. 3, which has belonged to some of the most popular figures in Blueshirts history. Other fan favorites to wear the number included Ching Johnson
, Ott Heller
, Hall of Famer Tim Horton
and Barry Beck
. Like Howell, Heller and Beck also served as Rangers captains.
Two men who wore No. 3 also went on to become NHL head coaches, with the more famous being Fred Shero
. The man called "The Fog" wore the number for 145 games with the Rangers as a player, but went on to become a bigger hero to New York hockey fans when he coached the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1979.
The other No. 3 who served as a head coach in the NHL was Jack "Tex" Evans
. Meanwhile, James Patrick
, one of the last players to wear No. 3, is currently an assistant coach in Buffalo.
No. 3 also has one other interesting claim to fame in Rangers history. Incredibly, three of the 18 players who wore No. 3 for the Rangers played their last Rangers game in the Stanley Cup Finals. Those three players were Shero in 1950, Gary Doak
in 1972 and Dave Farrish
Here is a look back at all the men who have worn No. 3 for the New York Rangers.