Calgary Flames

Jakob Pelletier jersey number change signals a potential full time NHL role

Now that the season is just about to begin, it seems as though there is even more news about the Flames coming out. Whether it was the team hiring a couple of new scouts, more on the Elias Lindholm situation, or more pictures of Oliver Kylington on ice, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the Flames’ season is about to begin.

One piece of news that should excite Flames fans is that Jakob Pelletier has officially changed his number. After sporting number 49 for the past two seasons in the AHL with the Stockton Heat and then the Calgary Wranglers, as well as 24 games last season with the Flames, Pelletier has elected to change his number to 22.

Pelletier had previously rocked two numbers in junior hockey. When he played with the Moncton Wildcats, Pelletier wore number 11, then when he was traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs, he moved over to number 12, as 11 was already being worn by Emile Lauzon, the brother of NHL defenceman Jeremy Lauzon.

Obviously, both of those numbers were non-starters in Calgary. 11 is worn by Mikael Backlund, the longest-tenured Flame currently, and 12 was worn by Jarome Iginla, and the number has now been retired by the organization. Instead now Pelletier will rock 11×2 in number 22.

History of number 22

22 is one of the most common numbers worn in Flames history, with 24 players having worn it since the organization was founded in Atlanta. The first player to wear the number was Noel Picard in 1972-73 in his first and only season with the Atlanta Flames. Through 31 games, the defenceman put up 10 assists. He would go on to retire after that season at the age of 34.

While Picard was not the most memorable name in Flames’ history, the number has been worn by some pivotal Flames players over the years. Prior to donning his iconic number 2, Hall of Famer Al MacInnis wore the number for the 1982-83 season. He also wore number 11 prior to getting 22.

The number was also worn by current Flames’ GM Craig Conroy, who donned the number from 2001 to 2004. When he was traded back to the team in 2006-07, he wore number 24 since 22 was worn at the time by Daymond Langkow.

Most recently, the number was worn by Trevor Lewis, who donned the number last season. Now that Lewis has moved back to playing in Los Angeles, the number is vacant and has been claimed by Pelletier.

What does this mean?

Traditionally, the first 30 numbers are far more common to be worn by players than any other number. These numbers are worn typically by roster players, with call-ups and prospects being given numbers further down the roster in order of priority. There are a handful of exceptions of players who opted for a number further down the number chart, Andrew Mangiapane‘s number 88, Kylington’s number 58, and Sam Bennett’s number 91 being the most well-known, but these are exceptions, not the rule.

It’s more common for players to move numbers when they become full-time NHLers. Before he earned the number 11 jersey, Backlund wore the number 60 in the 2009-10 season as Fredrik Sjostrom had already taken that number. The same thing happened with former captain Mark Giordano, who wore 46 for his first seven games in 2006. He then moved to number five the following season, which will almost certainly become an honoured number in Calgary in time. Nobody has worn that number since he left Calgary at the end of the 2020-21 season.

Being allowed to move to a smaller number likely indicates Pelletier will be playing a much larger role this season than last, and that very much checks out with the Flames’ organizational shift to play more of their young players this season. While it may be too early to want to invest in a Pelletier jersey yet, this is a sign the Flames trust the forward and he should see more games this season.

Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire

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