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The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired 

Ranker Sports
Updated March 5, 2019 5.7k votes 448 voters 6.6k views 144 items

List Rules Vote up the best NHL players to have their legendary number retired for all time.

These are the best NHL players to have their numbers retired by the team where they made the biggest impact. Not every player in the NHL gets their number retired, it is an honor bestowed upon the best players of a franchise. Both the Maples Leafs and Canadiens have the most retired jerseys, with 18 numbers never to be worn again by players on those teams. Wayne Gretzky’s number 99 is retired league-wide. Does that mean he will be voted to the top of this list? While all of these hockey players are great at the game, having your number retired does not automatically get you into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Players on this list that have been elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame are noted.

Look below to see all the numbers retired in the NHL and if your favorite player has had their number retired. Then vote up the players that you think played the game the best. This list does not have current players because they are still using their numbers and it does not have numbers that were retired for coaches, managers, or owners. This list is for players only and will determine the best NHL players to have had their number retired.

list ordered by
1
Wayne Gretzky is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 99 (retired league-wide)

Years With Franchise: 1978–1999

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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2
Bobby Orr is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 4

Years With Franchise: 1966–1978

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#101 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #2 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #1 of 119 The Best Defensemen in NHL History

3
Gordie Howe is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 9

Years With Franchise: 1946–1971, 1973–1980, 1997

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#727 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #787 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #3 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time

4
Mario Lemieux is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 66

Years With Franchise: 1984–1997, 2000–2006

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#74 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #1 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #10 of 47 Athletes With the Coolest Post-Sports Careers

5
Maurice Richard is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 9

Years With Franchise: 1942–1960

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

6
Jean Béliveau is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 4

Years With Franchise: 1950–1971

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

7
Guy Lafleur is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 10

Years With Franchise: 1971–1985, 1988–1991

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

8
Bobby Hull is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 9

Years With Franchise: 1957–1980

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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#1,721 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #10 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #56 of 119 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

9
Jacques Plante is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 1

Years With Franchise: 1952–1975

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

10
Patrick Roy is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 33

Years With Franchise: 1984–2003

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#1,479 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #15 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #1 of 104 The Top Hockey Goaltenders of All Time

11
Steve Yzerman is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 19

Years With Franchise: 1983–2006

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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12
Tim Horton is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 2, 7

Years With Franchise: 1949–1974

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#605 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #84 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #20 of 119 The Best Defensemen in NHL History

13
Nicklas Lidström is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 5

Years With Franchise: 1987–2012

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

14
Phil Esposito is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 7

Years With Franchise: 1963–1981

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#1,690 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #20 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #44 of 119 The Greatest Left-Handed Athletes of All Time

15
Martin Brodeur is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 30

Years With Franchise: 1991–2015

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#23 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #18 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

16
Mike Bossy is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 22

Years With Franchise: 1977–1987

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#22 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Time #126 of 174 Athletes Whose Careers Ended Too Soonlisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

17
Peter Forsberg is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 21

Years With Franchise: 1989–2011

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#712 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #29 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

18
Larry Robinson is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 19

Years With Franchise: 1973–1992

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

19
Ray Bourque is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 77

Years With Franchise: 1979–2001

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

20
Joe Sakic is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 19

Years With Franchise: 1988–2009

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

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#288 of 2,181 The Best Athletes Of All Time #14 of 526 The Best NHL Players of All Timelisted on Athletes You Didn't Know Were Conservative

21
Ted Lindsay is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 7

Years With Franchise: 1944–1960, 1964–1965

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

22
Ken Dryden is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 29

Years With Franchise: 1970–1979

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

23
Teemu Selänne is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 8

Years With Franchise: 1989–2014

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

24
Johnny Bower is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 4

Years With Franchise: 1945–1969

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
 

25
Terry Sawchuk is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best NHL Players To Have Their Numbers Retired

Number: 1

Years With Franchise: 1949–1970

Elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.