A Series: Looking into Avalanche and Nordiques Player Numbers: Number 32

Jacques Cloutier thinks Goalie Week is waaaay cooler than Shark Week - Christian Peterson, Getty

The lockout train keeps rolling as we take a look at number 32. It is not exactly the most famous number in the annals of hockey history (giggle). 254 players have worn it since the early 50s, none of them are in the Hall of Fame. There is one (and only one) #32 that has been retired, however. Ironically enough, he would be...

Dale Hunter - Hunter is a product of the Nords' fine inaugural draft that also netted Anton Stastny and Michel Goulet. He made his debut the following year and while he didn't quite put up the sexy rookie numbers that Anton and Peter did that same year, he still put up a solid 63 points. He played 7 years for the Nordiques and then was traded on draft day during the 87 draft. The Nordiques sent Hunter and Clint Malarchuk to the Capitals for Gaeten Duchesne, Alan Haworth and a 1st round pick, which everyone but Dario knows turned out to be Joe Sakic. Hunter then spent 12 seasons in Washington before being traded to the Avalanche at the 99 trade deadline. He retired the following summer and the Capitals retired his #32 a year later. For the franchise, Hunter appeared in 535 games (all but 12 as a Nordique), scoring 142 goals, 322 assists a +109 rating and an impressive 1,562 penalty minutes. I can tell you without looking, those will all be franchise highs for #32s.

Lucien DeBlois - DeBlois is one of a few players we've covered who also played for the Colorado Rockies. DeBlois started his career with the Rangers in 1977 and also played for the Rockies, Jets and Canadiens (where he won a Cup) before another stint with the Rangers. In 1989, the Nordiques signed the 32-year old veteran as a free agent. He spent one full (and disappointing) season in Quebec. 14 games into his second season with the Nordiques, he was traded to Toronto and ultimately finished his career with the Jets. His totals: 84 games, 11 goals, 10 assists, -27 (ouch) and 58 penalty minutes. Offensively, those will be the 2nd best totals for #32 (yeah, I peeked).

Jeff Jackson - Action Jackson wore #25 for 3 seasons in Quebec. In his 4th season, he played just 10 games, presumably all after DeBlois was traded in November, because he changed to #32. And it must have been before January because that's when the Nordiques traded for...

Jacques Cloutier - Cloutier was 32 when he was acquired from the Blackhawks in 1991 and closed out his career with the Nordiques spending 4 years backing up Ron Tugnutt, Stephane Fiset and Ron Hextall. After retirement, Cloutier became a goaltending coach with Quebec. He spent two years with the Avs' affiliate in Cornwall as an assistant under Bob Hartley and then was an assistant with the Avalanche from 1996 to 2009, including one of the Cup teams.

Rich Brennan - Brennan is a defenseman drafted out of high school by the Nordiques in the 3rd round of the 1991 draft. After graduating, he attended 4 years of Avalanche college (BU) playing with some notable players like Chris Drury and Joe Sacco's younger brother, David (cool name, bro). Brennan played just two games with the Avalanche, both during the 96-97 season before departing for the Rangers as a free agent. In total, he appeared in 50 NHL games with 6 different teams.

Jeff Buchanan - I do not recall him, but after researching I think I like his story. Buchanan is a defenseman from Saskatoon and played with the Blades of the WHL. He wasn't drafted and signed with the brand new Tampa Bay Lightning in 1992. He was assigned to Tampa's affiliate, the Atlanta Knights where he was teammates with such notables as Manon Rheaume, Brent Gretzky and Wild analyst Mike Greenlay as well as former Nordiques Normand Rochefort and Bryan Fogarty. In the next few years, he took a grand tour of the IHL, playing with the Indianapolis Ice, Detroit Vipers, Orlando Solar Bears and Kansas City Blades. After years in the minors, he signed with the Avalanche in 1997. He spent most of the year with Hershey, but did get a brief callup with the Avalanche in November. He didn't play much and was just around for 6 games - but after almost 500 games in the IHL and AHL he finally saw NHL action. He retired after that season, no doubt with some cool stories to tell the grandkids about someday.

Riku Hahl - The Finnish center was drafted by the Avalanche in the 6th round of the 1999 draft and played parts of 3 seasons in Denver. In total, he played in 92 games scoring 5 goals, 8 assists and 38 penalty minutes with a -3 rating. He's still playing, currently suiting up for Jokeri of the Finnish league.

Kevin Porter - Porter wore #32 for 16 games after arriving to the Avalanche in the Wolski trade in 2009. The following season he switched to #12, which he wore for the rest of his 109 games in Denver.

This really isn't much of a contest, as Dale Hunter should win this hands down. Cloutier could get some votes, as could DeBlois, Hahl and Porter...but, really, people, it's Dale Hunter.

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