MONTREAL – The three players who recently signed in Montreal will all have some difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks. But they’ve already made the toughest decision of all…what numbers they want to see stitched to their new jerseys.
On most NHL teams, finding a suitable number is an easy enough task. With 15 numbers hanging in the Bell Centre rafters in addition to the players already laying claim to their own Canadiens digits, some compromises always have to be made by incoming Habs.
Brandon Prust can consider his trusty No. 8 extra lucky now that he’ll be able to keep his streak alive as the only number he’s ever worn in the NHL, especially since numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 are all retired in Montreal. Prust won’t have to alter any numbered swag he already owns, having previously donned No. 8 with the Rangers from 2009-10 to 2011-12.
The bruising forward will become the 71st Hab to don the digits, following in the footsteps of players like Mike Komisarek, Mark Recchi, Mathieu Schneider, Doug Risebrough and Dick Duff.
Francis Bouillon may be making his homecoming to Montreal, but he won’t be able to dust his old jersey off in his second stint with the Habs. With the No. 51 he’s spent his entire career wearing with the Canadiens and Predators already in use by David Desharnais, Bouillon will be changing it up in place of his new No. 55.
Only the fourth Hab to ever wear 55, Bouillon joins an exclusive club consisting of Brent Sopel, Jack McGill, Igor Ulanov and Matthieu Descoteaux.
More accustomed to playing with different numbers in his career, Colby Armstrong has worn 19, 9 and 20 with different teams. Since 9 is retired for Maurice Richard and 19 is out of circulation in honor of Larry Robinson, Armstrong’s choice was an easy one. He’ll be returning to the familiar No. 20 he wore with the Penguins and Thrashers.
Armstrong will become the 60th player in Canadiens history to wear No. 20, following the likes of Richard Zednik and Pete Mahovlich…in addition to the seven different players who wore the number in 1956-57 alone.
He may not be new to the Canadiens, but Rene Bourque will be making his grand debut wearing a new number next season as well. Set to swap his No. 27 for 17 this fall, Bourque is returning to the number he wore for three seasons in Calgary when he racked up 75 goals and 148 points in 211 games.
He will be the 48th player in Habs history to wear No. 17, joining John LeClair, Craig Ludwig, Rod Langway and Jean-Guy Talbot in that category.