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A Series: Looking into Avalanche and Nordiques Player Numbers: Number 31

Christian Peterson, Getty

#31 is one of those kind of weird numbers for the franchise. Eight players wore it for the Nordiques, but only two have worn it for the Avalanche. Okay, maybe it's not that weird but I'm not a fan of intros anyway.

Normand Rochefort - Rochefort was a defenseman with the Nordiques for 7 years, but only wore #31 for his first season. Gary Larieviere wore #5 that year, but was traded towards the end of the season. Rochefort adopted #5 - and a nice 'stache - the next year and stuck with it the rest of the way. In 1988 he was traded to the Rangers.

Michel Bolduc - Bolduc is a defenseman who played 10 NHL games, all with Quebec in the 81-82 and 82-83 seasons. He spent the rest of his time in the AHL, retiring in 1987.

Jean-Marc Gaulin - Gaulin has kind of an odd jersey history with the Nordiques. He played one game in 82-83 in #31. He played 2 games in 83-84 wearing #31. The next year, he changed to #24 and ended up playing 22 games, recording 6 points. Not quite understanding how correlation works, he switched back to #31 the following season and, as you can guess, played just 1 game. After a couple more years in the minors, he departed for France where he had a pretty solid career.

Peter Loob - In 1983, the Calgary Flames had a hot new rookie from Sweden named Hakan Loob. The following summer, the Nordiques drafted his older brother, Peter, in the 12th round of the 1984 draft. The defenseman signed that summer with Quebec and joined the team for the 84-85 season. Well, not the team. He spent most of the year in Fredricton and Muskegon, seeing just 8 NHL games. After one year...wait for it...wait for it...wait for it...he headed back to Sweden.

Greg Millen - The 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques were a terrible, terrible team. They scored 240 goals and allowed 407. Joe Sakic scored 102 points...and was a -40. The Nordiques had a collective +/- of -712. In rebuilding / tanking mode early, the Nords traded Jeff Brown in December to the Blues for Greg Millen and Tony Hrkac. Millen's time in Quebec was mercifully short, as he was sent to Chicago a few months later with Michel Goulet (Peter Stastny was traded to New Jersey the same day).

Stephane Fiset - I mentioned the other day how lousy the Avalanche drafts were in the early to mid-80s. Things changed in 1987 when the Avs drafted Joe Sakic, although the rest of their draft was just so-so (Kip Miller, Garth Snow and Bryan Fogarty were the only notables). Well, in 1988 they hit one out of the park, when they drafted Curtis Leschyshyn, Alexei Gusarov, Valeri Kamensky, Claude Lapointe and Stephane Fiset - 5 players, all of whom spent a considerable amount of time in a Nordique / Avalanche uniform. Fiset started his Quebec career wearing #31, wearing it for just 32 games over his first 3 seasons. For some reason, Fiset switched to #35 for the 92-93 season, essentially his first full season in Quebec. It's possible he switched so that Valeri Kamensky could have 31, or perhaps he just liked #35. Whatever the case, the bulk of his Colorado / Quebec career was in #35, not #31.

John Tanner - Along with Millen and Fiset, Tanner is one of 3 goalies to wear #31 for the Nordiques in the 89-90 season. Tanner just played one game in #31 though. For his other 20 games - with Fiset already wearing #31 - Tanner wore #34.

Valeri Kamensky - We've documented him before. He clearly preferred #13, but when he played his rookie season with Quebec in the 91-92 season, Mats Sundin had #13 sewn up, so Kamensky went with 17. Then he played two seasons wearing #31, which the mathematically minded people can tell you is #13 backwards! Finally, in 94-95 Sundin was gone and Kamensky could wear his more familiar #13. Still, he played 2 seasons and scored 102 points in 31, which might be enough to carry him over all these goalies.

Aaron Miller - Miller actually wore 3 different numbers for the franchise. He played one game during the 93-94 season wearing #44. The next season, he played 5 games wearing #31. The year after that, the Nordiques became the Avalanche and Miller played 9 games with the Avs again in #31. Miller had worn #3 in the minors, a number that was retired by the Nordiques but unretired by the Avalanche so, in 96-97 - his first as a regular - Miller changed to his more familiar #3. In total, he played just 14 games in #31.

Peter Budaj - I believe most people are familiar with Peter Budaj. He spent 6 tumultuous seasons in Colorado as the sometime-starter, sometime-backup, sometime-shootout coach. In total, Budaj played 242 games in an Avalanche jersey, joining Kamensky as the only two players with 100+ games wearing #31 for the franchise. Only 1 goalie has played more games for the franchise (check back Monday to see who that is) and he's one of 3 goalies with more than 100 wins all-time for the Avaliques (Nordanche?).

Only 3 players wore #31 for any significant amount of time. Rochefort wore it for 56 games - and then another 424 with #5. Kamensky wore it for two years, 108 games in all, then played 5 more seasons in number 13. Budaj tops all 31s in tenure with 242 games. I think this is an easy vote, but I am a notorious Budaj backer so take that for what you will.