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A Series: Looking into Avalanche and Nordiques Player Numbers: Number 23

Will we see Hejduk on the ice again?
Will we see Hejduk on the ice again?
Elsa, Getty Images

After taking a few days off for the holiday, Sandie and I are back with our lockout filler extraordinaire (thanks, Gary). 10 different players - 8 Nordiques and 2 Avs - have worn #23 for the Avalanche. Obviously, Milan Hejduk is the best of the bunch, but let's take a look at the complete list.

Terry Martin & Dave Farrish - Martin and Farrish were both acquired by Quebec in the 1979 expansion draft and both spent almost no time with their new team. After 7 combined games, they were traded together to Toronto for Reg Thomas. Both would later coach in the AHL and as assistants in the NHL; Martin was an assistant in Buffalo and Farrish is currently an assistant in Toronto...well, not currently currently (thanks Gary!).

Roland Cloutier - Another expansion draftee, Cloutier was one of 4 players to wear #23 that year. The former Red Wing (man, there sure have been a lot of those) scored 5 points in 14 games - his last NHL action. Cloutier finished up his career with 7 seasons in France.

Jacques Richard - Jacques Richard was a highly talented player in the Q; he was drafted 2nd overall in 1972 by the Atlanta Flames as was dubbed the "Next Richard" (although I don't believe he was related to the Richard brothers). Unfortunately, he flamed out in Atlanta (sorry) and after 3 mediocre seasons he was traded to Buffalo. He did even worse there and ended up spending a lot of time in the AHL. Ultimately, the Sabres terminated his contract and in February 1980 he signed with his hometown Nordiques and finished up with 15 points in 14 games. The next year - 1980-81 - he was paired with new arrivals Anton and Peter Stastny. The trio blew it up and Richard scored 51 goals and 103 points. The following season, 3rd brother Marian joined the team and Richard was moved off of the Stastny line. Richard's play declined - he scored just 41 points - and his off-ice troubles (drinking, drugs) were mounting. Two seasons after scoring 100 points, he was out of hockey. Sadly, Richard later spent time in prison for drug smuggling and was killed in a car accident on the way home from his 50th birthday party in 2002. For the Nordiques, Richard played in 186 games scoring and impressive 79 goals and 103 assists and 126 penalty minutes with a -26 rating.

Paul Gillis - Gillis played 9 seasons with Quebec and might end up having his jersey retired twice by the franchise. As a 19-year old in 1982, Gillis wore #33 for his 7-game stint. The next season, he switched to #23 and wore it the rest of the way for the Nords, being traded to Chicago in 1991. His career numbers for Quebec are solid - 576 games, 87 goals, 146 assists, -72 jibbles and 1,351 penalty minutes. While I don't remember seeing him play, I have a feeling I would have liked watching him play. After retiring in 1993, Gillis has been a head coach in the AHL, OHL, UHL, CHL and (currently) the NAHL.

Luc Dufour * - I'm including Dufor with an asterisk. Hockey-Reference lists him as wearing #23, but I don't believe that is correct. Dufour was acquired from the Bruins for Louis Slegher early in the 84-85 season and HR has him wearing #14 and #23 that year. But Gillis would have been wearing #23 by then so I'm not sure if that's correct. It doesn't really matter. The Nords were so enamored with their new player that they traded him to St Louis after just 30 games.

Greg Paslawski - Paslawski was acquired in 1991 for Tony Hrkac and played one full season in Quebec, scoring 28 goals and 17 assists before leaving the following summer via free agency.

Paul MacDermid - MacDermid appeared in 690 NHL games mostly with the Whalers but also with the Jets and Capitals. The Nordiques acquired him late in his career in a deal for Mike Hough. He played 2 years for Quebec before a back injury ended his career. He appeared in 58 games scoring 5 goals 4 assists and 57 penalty minutes. He's the last Niordique to wear #23.

Brent Severyn - Severyn, a veteran NHL enforcer, was acquired by Avalanche just before the start of the 1996 season. He appeared in 66 games, scoring 5 points and 193 penalty minutes. The following September he was claimed in the waiver draft by the Ducks. Does anyone else miss the waiver drafts?

Milan Hejduk - With 991 games 371 goals 423 assists and 158 minor penalties (I'd like to say "and counting there", know), Hejduk certainly has the "Who Wore It Best" title locked up for #23. The question is, will he be the last? Will the Avalanche retire Hejduk's number after his career ends? I wasn't sure of the answer, so I decided to do a little study which should be up on the front page now.