Numbers Game: Look to the Rafters- Pittsburgh Penguins

By: Nick Lanciani

What will retired numbers look like around the league in the future? While there’s only a finite set of numbers to utilize on the back of a jersey, many teams choose to retire (or honor) some numbers based on extraordinary circumstances, dedication to the organization, or legendary status.

With that in mind, I explore what each team around the NHL might do in the coming seasons. Feel free to speak your mind and drop us a line in the comments or tweet to @DtFrozenRiver using #DTFRNumbersGame.

For each team, I thought of former and current players that should have their numbers retired now or once they hang up the skates.

Pittsburgh Penguins LogoPittsburgh Penguins

Current Retired Numbers- 21 Michel Briere, 66 Mario Lemieux

Recommended Numbers to Retire

87 Sidney Crosby

To say the Pittsburgh Penguins will never retire Crosby’s number 87 sweater after his career is over is like saying penguins can fly.

71 Evgeni Malkin

The same goes for Malkin, as long as the relationship between the club and player never goes sour.

81 Phil Kessel

That’s right, I’m calling it. The Penguins will retire Phil Kessel’s number 81 one day. Not only am I crazy for making this declaration before he even touches the ice in a Pittsburgh sweater, but, well on second thought, that’s pretty much the only reason why I’m crazy. Kessel can score, that’s a fact. And anyone that plays alongside Crosby or Malkin is automatically made ten times better (if you’re not the one scoring, you’re the one passing the puck to Sid the Kid or Geno).

So that’s why I think his number will see the rafters in Pittsburgh in the future, aside from the fact that he’s finally found an organization he can settle in for longer than ever before. *I wrote this before the season started, as things are right now, his Pittsburgh venture is about as memorable as Colby Armstrong’s days in the Steel City.*

14 Chris Kunitz

Kunitz may be the first beneficiary of the Crosby-Malkin affect, as he is closest to retirement, but while he has been superb for the Penguins, his number 14 likely won’t rest alongside Michel Briere’s number 21 and Mario Lemieux’s number 66.

29 Marc-Andre Fleury

If he lets more beach balls by him, then all bets are off. Otherwise, Fleury’s the best goaltender Pittsburgh has seen in a long time, but is that enough to put number 29 out of commission after his career is over?

58 Kris Letang

Letang will likely be around for a long time in Pittsburgh and given the fact that he’s their best defenseman, there’s a good chance number 58 will see immortality above the ice at the Consol Energy Center. His health issues aside, Letang is one remarkable player in all of his resilience and persistence in the game. Including his health, Letang is superhuman.

9 Pascal Dupuis

As a player, Dupuis was committed to the Penguins through and through. He might not have been the greatest there ever was, but he’s certainly worthy of receiving the distinction of having his number retired by Pittsburgh. Best of luck to Dupuis in his transition to the front office aspect of the game within the organization.