What’s in a number?
We’re entering the holiday spirit of giving, which makes it worth mentioning that prior to last season, the Kings presented Dwight King and Jordan with an opportunity. Would they want to keep their same numbers – Nolan had worn 71, and King 74 – or would they prefer a more attractive number at the lower end of the scale?
“The year right after we won there in 2012, training camp I think they offered me 21 which I wore in Manchester, which is a great number but at that point in time I just didn’t feel the need,” King said.
He explained his choice to stick with 74 as such:
“When we got called up, obviously it was given and the rings they gave us, 74 is on there. I figured I might as well wear it while I am here.”
Numbers are assigned to players upon their matriculation into the Kings’ system. They’re generally higher numbers that don’t run the risk of those that would be preferred by players coming in via free agency or trade. Linden Vey wears 57. Tanner Pearson wears 70. Tyler Toffoli, 73. Players have to earn the opportunity to wear lower numbers – an achievement that was unlocked when the team won the Stanley Cup.
King and Nolan, however, respectfully declined the overture.
“It’s just the number we got when we got called up and it was good luck for us so we both want to keep it,” Nolan said.
Full speed ahead with 71 and 74, it appears.
“For here, it grows on you. Obviously it’s kind of a unique number,” said King, who preferred “12” in minor and junior hockey. “Most people who wear it are kind of in the same situation I was in and I am in. I don’t hate it. Obviously it’s a little of tough when you are doing autographs. You’ve got ’74’ on there all the time.
“But overall, it’s no real meaning. I’m used to it now.”
There’s also a sense of pride in wearing an assigned number that has stuck with them since they joined the organization.
“It was the first number we were given in our first pro NHL game. I thought we were both pretty good in our first games together and then everything pretty much blew up from there,” Nolan said. “We went to the Stanley Cup Final. We won the Stanley Cup our first year wearing that number. Our families all had the jerseys back home cheering for me and Kinger and we didn’t want to switch our number so that they would have to switch theirs.”
Like King, Nolan was offered the opportunity to switch to a lower number after the team’s Cup run. He declined.
What number was offered?
“Just any number that was our favorite growing up, but it’s a favorite of ours now.”