Penguins: The Story Behind Each Player’s Jersey Number

As a hockey fan growing up with the NHL video games, I was obsessed with changing players’ numbers, wearing different jerseys, editing rosters and teams, and making things my own in my little world. Those players never got a say in what number they wore, as I forced them to wear a certain number for my leisure. 

Now, that was in my fantasy land as a child. In the real world, the real players get to choose their number, and today I write about the reasons each player for the Penguins chose their number. 

#1: Casey DeSmith: 

The number was given to him when he joined the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL, then the Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton Penguins (AHL) gave him that number for their playoff run. He kept it as he stayed with the team. Then in Pittsburgh, he thought about returning to his college number of 29 but thought better of it due to Marc-Andre Fleury and stuck with 1. 

#2: Chad Ruhwedel

He has always worn single-digit jersey numbers in his career. In college, he wore number 3, and on the Sabres, he wore 5. In Pittsburgh, number 2 was the only single digit not taken at the time, so he opted to go with that. 

#8: Brian Dumoulin

He wore number 4 in high school, then 2 in college. He said it was between 8 and 32, or “something higher,” but ultimately went with 8. He said 8 seemed like a solid defensive number. 

#10: Drew O’Connor

In college, Drew wore 18. When he arrived in Pittsburgh, it was already taken by Sam Lafferty. So he picked a number that looked close to 18, in 10. 

#15: Josh Archibald 

The number is the number his dad wore in college and his professional career. He wore number 45 in his first stint with Pittsburgh, then was able to change to his dad’s number in Edmonton. When he came back, he kept his father’s number. 

#16: Jason Zucker

He picked this number based on his grandpa’s football number. His grandpa loved hockey and was a huge fan of watching Zucker play. However, January 16th is also Zucker’s birthday, but that had no motivation for why he picked 16.


#17: Bryan Rust

For Rust, it’s simple. When he arrived in Pittsburgh, it was the number he was given. He just kept it and didn’t feel like changing. 

#18: Drake Caggiula 

He always wore 9 when growing up. He wanted to wear 9 in Chicago, Buffalo, Arizona, and Edmonton, but it was either taken or retired. He was going to continue to wear number 91, which he had worn for his entire career, but was told that “No one wears a higher number than Sid.” He looked at number 9, but since he did not know if Evan Rodrigues was returning, he decided that 9 times 2 is 18, so he picked 18. He also realized that his two kids’ birthdays add to 18, so it all works out. 

#23: Brock McGinn

He wore 21 in his junior career and his first few seasons in Carolina. When Lee Stempniak joined the team, he gave up 21 for him, and since McGinn always wore 3 when he was younger, he just decided to change it to 23. He kept the number now in Pittsburgh. 

#24: Ty Smith

He always would wear 6 growing up until he reached the juniors. His defensive partner, and captain of the team, already wore 6. He changed to 24 as it was one of the untaken numbers, and he kept it throughout the rest of his career so far. 

#25: Ryan Poehling

It was the number the Habs gave him when he signed with them. He kept it when he was traded to Pittsburgh. He was supposed to wear 44 for the Habs, but they acquired Nate Thompson two weeks before, who wanted 44. 

#26: Jeff Petry

It was the number the Habs gave him after he was acquired from Edmonton. He wore 58 and 2 with Edmonton, but both were taken. He kept 26 when he joined the Pens. 

#28: Marcus Pettersson

In Anaheim, he started as number 65. In training camp, he wore 69, but the Ducks, unfortunately, wouldn’t let him keep that number. The following year, the Ducks gave him a lower number, 28. He kept that number and kept it when he came to Pittsburgh. He wanted to wear 8 but couldn’t in Anaheim (retired) or Pittsburgh (Dumoulin). 

#35: Tristian Jarry 

It was given to him, and he has kept it ever since. He never wanted a specific number, so he kept it. 

#42: Kasperi Kapanen

His father used to wear 24, and so did Kasperi for a while, until he and his father played on the same team, so he flipped 24 around to 42. He did go back to 24 when he played for the Leafs but elected to “make his own path” and go to 42 when he returned to the Penguins. 

#43: Danton Heinen

He always liked the number and wore it to honor one of his grandfathers, who was born in 1943. 

#44: Jan Rutta

He got the number when he arrived in Chicago and stuck with it throughout the rest of his career. 

#52: Mark Friedman

He was given that number. He wore it in junior as well, but he didn’t pick it. 

#53: Teddy Blueger 

He always wore 21 growing up to honor his favorite player, Peter Forsberg. However, 21 was taken in college, so he switched to 23. He kept 23 through when he played for Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton, and 23 was available when he joined the Penguins. However, he elected to go with the number he was given, which was 53. 

#58: Kris Letang

When he was in juniors, he was only given a few numbers to choose from when he joined the team. One of them was 58, and he chose it because no one else wore it. He wore it throughout juniors until the Penguins. In training camp, he wore 49 but requested 58. Ever since then, he’s worn 58 his whole career. 

#59: Jake Guentzel

He received 59 in training camp, and he has kept that number throughout his whole career so far. 

#67: Rickard Rakell

He received 67 in training camp in Anaheim. His father was also born in that year as well. It just worked for him. Also, he never had a specific number he wanted. He just kept it. 

#71: Evgeni Malkin

Malkin always wanted to wear 11. When he was in Russia, he saw one of his older teammates was already wearing 11, so he took 71 because 71 looked like 11. He decided to keep it because he “felt good and played good” in it, and he even has said that he plans on switching back to 11 for his final season. 

#73: Pierre-Olivier Joseph

He always wants to wear a 7 in his number. He has always had a 7 in his number because he considers it lucky. In Arizona, he wore 37, so he decided to flip it when he came to Pittsburgh. Also, one of his best friends in juniors wore 73, and he would always make fun of him for it. He picked 73 based on “family and friendship.”

#77: Jeff Carter

He grew up always wearing 7. In Philly, he wore 17. In Columbus, he was able to go back to his 7. When he was traded to LA, Rob Scuderi was wearing 7, so he added another 7 and went with 77 for his number, and he kept it when he went to Pittsburgh. 

#87: Sidney Crosby

A well-known story, Crosby’s number is obviously because of his 8/7/87 birthday. 

Stanley Cup Aspirations Cue’ the Duck Boats Pod

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Nik Shermeto

PT ‘23 | 🇺🇸/🇨🇦 | Penguins writer for Inside The Rink | Thoughts are my own.

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