There are 11 players who wore the No. 13 in the NHL this season, but it wasn’t always a popular choice. In fact, it was widely avoided until the European invasion that began in the 1990s. In honor of the unluckiest day on the calendar, Friday the 13th, we’ve identified the top 10 players of all-time to wear the bad luck numeral.
According to the World Wide Web, where everything is 100% factual, businesses in the United States lose a combined $800 million on Friday the 13ths, a day when the superstitious avoid traveling, party planning, even leaving their homes.
One of the commercial enterprises that absolutely won’t suffer today, on Friday, June 13, is the National Hockey League. The cash registers and credit card machines will be humming at Staples Center this evening as the Kings and Rangers entertain us with Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final.
There’s been a lot of talk about “puck luck” in this series, with New York supporters claiming, until Game 4, they weren’t getting any of it. That changed massively on Wednesday when everything that could go right for the Blueshrits did, giving them the opportunity to extend the series.
So what to expect of Game 5, on this unluckiest of dates on the calendar? Should Alain Vigneault play a hunch and insert his No. 13, Dan Carcillo, into the lineup? What are the odds the Kings’ No. 13, Kyle Clifford plays the hero? Or the goat?
That both teams actually have a No. 13 is something a modern day phenomenon. A handful of players wore the numeral during the NHL’s infancy in the 1920s and early ‘30s, but the bad luck associated with the number caused it to disappear from the ice-scape almost completely until the mid-1970s. The exception was Jack Stoddard, a right winger who played 80 games for the Rangers from 1951-53.
Left winger Robin Burns donned it in 1974-75 for the Kansas City Scouts, then proceeded to go a combined minus-80 over two seasons. The Scouts meantime, only lasted those two years in Kansas before heading to Denver. Coincidence?
It wasn’t until 1983-84 that the stigma of the No. 13 started to disappear in the NHL, a year when Ken ‘The Rat’ Linseman wore it proudly for the Stanley Cup winning Edmonton Oilers. The barriers broke down in a far bigger way with the European invasion that began in the 1990s; most cultures outside North America have no issue with the numeral.
This season, there were 11 players in the league who sported No. 13.
In honor of today, here’s our ranking of the best No. 13s in NHL history.
- Pavel Datsyuk. With two Stanley Cups, three Selkes and four Lady Byngs, Datsyuk is the most decorated of the 13s. At 35 and still performing at an elite level, this sure-fire Hall-of-Famer has time to further pad his resume.
- Mats Sundin. Nobody has scored more goals (564) or points (1,349) while wearing the numeral than the Swede, who sported it his entire NHL career.
- Teemu Selanne. The Finnish Flash mostly wore No. 8, but makes the cut for the record 76-goal rookie year he had in Winnipeg while in jersey No. 13.
- Slava Kozlov. Like Datsyuk and Sundin, Kozlov stayed true to 13 until the end, registering 853 points for three teams.
- Bill Guerin. For the first half of his career, in New Jersey, Guerin was No. 12, then No. 9 for his years in Edmonton. He switched to 13, and stuck with it, for the back nine, which included his Stanley Cup in Pittsubrgh.
- Ken Linseman. ‘The Rat’ was a pioneer of sorts. And a pain to opponents.
- Ray Whitney. The ageless wonder embraced 13 following The Great NHL Shutdown of 2004-05 and won a Cup in it with Carolina. He’s been wearing it since.
- Pavel Kubina. The only defenseman to make our list. By default, if we’re honest. No. 13 remains an unpopular choice among blueliners, though Kubina made it work in Tampa Bay for several seasons.
- Valeri Kamensky. The skilled Russian had 10 goals and 22 points in 22 playoff games during Colorado’s 1996 Cup run. Overall, he had 200 goals, mostly wearing 13.
- Mike Cammalleri. The pending unrestricted free agent is in the NHL’s 500-points club, with a chance to climb our “Unlucky 13” ladder.