Alternative Option to Jersey Retirement

By JD Lagrange – The debate on social media to know if Carey Price’s number should be retired or not is long, repetitive and, quite frankly, painful to read. But as we’ve already build what we consider a solid case for his to be raised to the rafters, we won’t get deeper into that. Instead, let’s focus on a related issue: no other players being able to wear the retired number.

When a player joins the Montreal Canadiens’ organization, he obviously can’t take any number that he wants. Young players are often assigned numbers to start. Veterans acquired in a trade or signing through free agency have to picks numbers that are not already assigned… unless they want to buy a Rolex to the player who has their favourite number, that is.

But in addition to that, That’s by far the most amongst NHL teams and it’s almost an entire team of numbers. Granted, it’s due to the Canadiens’ great history since being created in 1909, and a result of the 24 Stanley Cup banners also hanging in the rafters.

A different era

It’s time to get with the times. Back in the days, your odds of winning the Stanley Cup were much better than they are today… nowhere close. Here’s an example showing how much more difficult it is for a player like Carey Price to win the Stanley Cup, compared to Jacques Plante, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy even.

Jacques Plante53-54 to 62-631060
Ken Dryden71-72 to 1978-79716.90
Patrick Roy85-86 to 94-951021.70
Carey Price07-08 to 21-221530.415

Let’s say that teams consist of 21 players, for arguments sake. It means that the correlation between number of teams raises the number of players in the league, and lowers the odds of winning. The same goes for winning a NHL Award. When there were six teams, you would have had less than 200 players in the NHL. Today, there is over 700, going from six teams to 32.

Also, the salary cap prevents teams from staying together longer, making it very difficult to have the success teams and players from the past to have comparable success.

New approach

Saku Koivu

Instead of retiring the numbers, teams should retire the player’s jersey. The difference? The jerseys (or banners) would still be hanging in the rafters of the Bell Centre as they are today. However, the number could be worn by another player.

The honour, the notoriety, the recognition for what the player has done would remain the exact same. But new players could choose to wear number 12 if they wish. But it would obviously not be Moore or Cournoyer’s #12.

Perhaps this way, fans might find it easier to justify recognizing what Saku Koivu or Carey Price have represented to this organization and to be honoured by the Montreal Canadiens, by having their banner being raised to the rafters. Then and only then, can we get with the times…

More reading…

Will Number 31 Be Hanging In The Rafters?

Thanks to a French radio station from Montreal, a debate erupted on the internet yesterday. They asked: “If Carey Price has played his last game with the Habs, should his number be retired?” Oh boy the variety of replies we were able to read. Anything from categoric ‘no’ to ‘yes, without a doubt’, and anywhere in between.

If you stop and think about it, it’s a very interesting topic. Most of the people saying that #31 should not be hanging in the rafters at the Bell Centre use, as justification, that Price has never won a Stanley Cup. They’re not wrong, but the question remains if, in order to be recognized amongst the greats who wore the uniform, a Cup win is a must or not.

Back in the old days, there were much fewer teams so the odds of winning the prestigious trophy were much higher than they are today, with 32 teams. Further, the draft rules were different back then and there was no salary cap. By having more teams and lowering the odds of winning a Cup, does it diminish the quality of the player or his impact on the team and in the league? Ask yourself this: Had Ken Dryden not won a Cup, would he be less of a goaltender? The answer is clearly no.


So we’ve established that Price hasn’t won a Stanley Cup, a team accomplishment. Based on the individual awards that he has received over his career, one would think that he should at least get some consideration. Look at this report card:

  • Molson Cup for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
  • NHL All-Star Game for 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
  • NHL All-Rookie Team
  • NHL YoungStars Game at NHL All-Star Game
  • William M. Jennings Trophy
  • Vezina Trophy (best goaltender)
  • Ted Lindsay Award (most valuable player, voted by NHL Players Association)
  • Hart Memorial Trophy (most valuable player, voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • NHL First All-Star Team (voted by Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
  • Lou Marsh Trophy (Canada’s Top Athlete voted by a panel of journalists)
  • Lionel Conacher Award (selected by sports writers of the Canadian Press)

While it is not in the NHL, he still accomplished the following representing the Montreal Canadiens:

  • Olympic gold medal in Men’s Hockey at 2014 Sochi Olympics
  • Best Goaltender at 2014 Sochi Olympics (voted by IIHF)
Carey Price

Further, on just about every annual NHLPA players’ poll, he is voted the NHL’s best goaltender and the toughest to face. This is coming from his peers, those who have to face him game in, game out.

No goaltender in the Canadiens’ long history has won more wins in a Habs uniform (360) than Carey Price. He surpassed Jacques Plante, who is in second position with 314 wins and we can all agree that Price never benefited from having the teams that Plante had in front of him… nowhere close.

No goaltender has lasted as long as the Canadiens’ netminder either, as Price has played 707 regular season’s games protecting the Habs’ goal. Now talk about longevity in hockey’s most stressful position: goalie of the Montreal Canadiens!

Last but not least, Stanley Cups aside, he compares favourably to another great Hall of Fame Canadiens’ goaltender that everybody knows… even in the Playoffs!

* ROY2.78.9042.46.913

* in a Habs’ uniform

So if the question is to know if Price deserves to have his number 31 retired, even if he doesn’t play another game in a Habs’ uniform, even if he has not won the ultimate team goal, the Stanley Cup, the answer should be a resounding YES. Carey Price’s jersey should and will, one day, be hanging in the rafters at the Bell Centre. It’s not like he hasn’t done his share to help his team bring the Holy Grail back to Montreal, where it belongs.

More reading…

Top Defensemen In Trade Rumours

Worst Trades In Habs’ Modern History

Habs Must Stay True To The Plan