It’s a universal truth — 69 is the funniest number. It’s the sex number. It’s the number that evokes a reflexive response of “nice” when you tweet it. It’s wonderful.
Yet in the world of sports, where adult men play children’s games, the most immature number is rarely seen. There have been 928 players to don NHL uniforms this season and not a single one has chosen 69 as his number. The Montreal Canadiens, despite retiring 13 numbers, have yet to dress a 69 even with the fewest numbers available of any franchise.
With that mind, we will honor the greatest players in hockey history to wear No. 69, as they are the true heroes, the pioneers that hopefully will pave the way for more 69s in the future. These are the six nicest 69s the hockey world has known. We have left the links for you to see so you don’t think we’re going to Rick Roll you. Or worse…
6. Florian Kettemer , Munich, German League
A veteran of eight seasons in the DEL, the defenseman has 14 goals in 331 career games. Kettemer has played for three teams in Germany — Augsburg, Mannheim and Munich — and has worn No. 69 at every stop. A 29-year-old defenseman lacking offensive abilities will never get a shot in the NHL, so he will have to be Germany’s hero.
5. Mel Angelstad, Washington Capitals, NHL
In 2004, Angelstad played his only two NHL games and did so wearing No. 69, becoming the first NHL player to do so. There was nothing remarkable about his two games — zero goals, zero assists, two penalty minutes — but leave it to a guy making his NHL debut at the age of 33 wearing No. 69 to give one of the better intermission interviews ever.
4. Pierce Grandchamp, Colorado Avalanche Sled Hockey
Grandchamp played five games for the Avalanche sled team during the 2015 USA Hockey Sled Hockey Tier II National Championship. He had zero points in those five games but that team won a championship. As far as I can tell, that makes Grandchamp the only member of a title team to wear No. 69 and worthy of a spot on this important list.
3. Andrew Desjardins, San Jose Sharks, NHL
When it comes to Desjardins and No. 69, he is both a hero and a coward. For two seasons with the Sharks, he proudly wore No. 69 after it was handed to him by the team at the end of the 2010-11 season. But he dropped it for good before the 2013 season and wears No. 11 for the Chicago Blackhawks now. It’s probably not a coincidence that he had his best season while wearing No. 69 in 2011-12, posting 17 points in 76 games. He has just 12 points in 79 career games with the Blackhawks. Andrew, please consider a switch back to No. 69 for the fans and for your production.
2. Alex Burmistrov, Ak-Bars Kazan, KHL
The Winnipeg Jets draft pick left the NHL to spend two seasons in Russia proudly wearing No. 69. But he returned to the Jets this season, and with No. 69 available, he could have continued the tradition but instead said in July, “I don’t think I’m going to wear the number (No. 69) that I wore in Russia.” He chose No. 6, which is sad. Here’s what’s not sad: Through 65 games, he had 6 goals and 9 assists. Nice! … But he has a goal and two assists in his past four games, thus ruining his nice season, but that does mean he has played 69 games.
1. Nicklas Backstrom, Dynamo Moscow, KHL
The 2012-13 lockout was a sad time but many NHL players made the most of it by playing overseas until the season began. Backstrom, arguably a future Hall of Famer with the Washington Capitals that wears No. 19, was originally given No. 99 by his KHL team. After asking for a switch, he got to wear No. 69. That’s pretty nice for a player who had a nice rookie season for the Capitals, when he had 14 goals and 55 assists for 69 points.
Oh, and that featured image at the top?
Greg McKegg was a third-round pick of the Leafs that never wore No. 69 … except during the 2011-12 preseason. He made his NHL debut two years later but did so wearing No. 39. In 11 career NHL games, because he angered the 69 gods, he has never registered a point.