Who doesn't like silly stats?

The 2023-24 NHL season is in full swing and the Detroit Red Wings are off to a great start. While they were certainly expected to be improved, they weren't projected to be performing as well as they have been. That draws interest in a variety of ways, for sure.

I'm still familiarizing myself with the sport after a full calendar year in Michigan (admittedly not doing a great job). But, while digging through the history books, stat sheets and so on of the Red Wings' franchise encyclopedia on Hockey Reference, I stumbled upon a fairly silly stat related to one of the most important factors in all sports: jersey numbers.

Okay, I'll get it right: sweater numbers.

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You'd think for a franchise that has existed for 97 years in a sport where there are no rules (though there are traditions) concerning uniform numbers, every number would be recycled a few times over. Funny enough, that is not the case for Detroit - leading me to expect that to be the case for many teams across the NHL.

Nonetheless, the Red Wings have 16 numbers that have only been worn once and 12 numbers that have never been worn at all in franchise history, not counting the league-wide retired 99 in honor of Wayne Gretsky.

Interestingly, of the 16 numbers that have only been worn once, the Red Wings have only retired one such number, No. 9 in honor of Gordie Howe, arguably the greatest play in franchise history. Overall, the Red Wings have retired or honored eight numbers.

Every Sweater Number in Detroit Red Wings History Worn Just Once (Or Not At All)

For whatever reason, these numbers have either been worn just once or never at all in the nearly 100-year history of Detroit Red Wings hockey, according to Hockey Reference.

(Hockey Reference suggests that No. 6 was only worn by Cummy Burton, which is incorrect as Larry Aurie wore the number first and the number is pseudo-retired. Such inaccuracies are difficult to narrow down, so where they can be corrected they will be.)

Gallery Credit: Jacob Harrison

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