Senators by the Numbers: #3
Today's post is all about the #3. It's been worn by 9 players in modern history, all defensemen.
Kent Paynter D 1992-1993, 1993-1994
Born in Summerside, P.E.I. in 1965, Paynter was selected 159th by the Chicago Black Hawks in 1983. He was taken 16th overall in the 1992 Expansion Draft. Paynter wore 38, 34, 36, and 37 with the Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals before changing to single digits with the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.
Sean Hill D 1994-1995
Born in Duluth, Minnesota in 1970, Hill was drafted 167th overall by the Canadiens in 1988. A former U.S. Olympian (Albertville, France 1992), Hill played 17 seasons in the NHL as a member of 8 different teams. After winning the Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1993, Hill joined the expansion franchise in Anaheim in 1993-94, scoring the first goal in Mighty Ducks history. Hill also achieved another NHL first: in 2007, he was the first player suspended by the NHL for violating the performance enhancing substance policy and received a 20 game suspension. Hill wore #3 in his first season with the Senators, then switched to #4.
Frantisek Musil D 1995-1996, 1996-1997
Born in Pardubice, Czechoslovakia in 1964, Musil was drafted 38th overall by the Calgary Flames. A talented prospect in the 1980s, Musil defected from Czechoslovakia by pretending to be on holiday and left for North America from Yugoslavia. Musil currently works as a scout for the Edmonton Oilers, who drafted his son David, in the 2nd round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He is also an assistant coach with the Czech national team.
Per Gustafsson D 1997-1998
Born in Oskarshamn, Sweden in 1970, Gustafsson is best known for his play with HV71 in the SEL. In over 700 games with the club, Gustafsson won the Elitserien title on three occasions. Drafted 261st by the Florida Panthers in 1994, Per played in less than 100 games in the NHL for the Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Ottawa Senators. Gustafsson recorded the fastest goal in SEL history when he scored 6 seconds into a game in 1991-92.
Patrick Traverse D 1998-1999, 1999-2000
Born in Montreal in 1974, Traverse was drafted 50th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1992. He played for 5 different clubs during his time in the NHL and last played in 2011-12 for the Hamburg Freezers in the German league (DEL). He's currently SC Regional Vice-President for Index Strategy Advisors.
Sean Gagnon D 2000-2001
Born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario in 1973, Gagnon played for the Sudbury Wolves and hometown Greyhounds. He went undrafted and played just 12 games in the NHL split between the Phoenix Coyotes and the Ottawa Senators. Gagnon spent much of his career in Europe, finishing in the German 2nd division with the 2nd Bundesliga team Lausitzer Füchse.
Zdeno Chara D 2001-2002, 2002-2003, 2003-2004, 2005-2006
Born in Trencin, Czechoslovakia in 1977, Chara was drafted 56th overall by the New York Islanders in 1996. At 6'9", Chara is the tallest player to ever play for the Ottawa Senators - in fact he's the tallest player to ever play in the NHL. Chara wore #3 for 4 seasons while in Ottawa but switched to #33 after signing with the Boston Bruins. The reason? The Bruins retired #3 on February 22, 1934 for Lionel Hitchman. The night marked the first time that a player's number was permanently retired in an official ceremony in North American sports history. The similarities don't end at number preference. Hitchman was also a towering player for his time, known for his physicality, and had a reputation as a premier defensive defenseman. Hitchman also wore the captain's "C" when the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 1928-29. Finally, Hitchman arrived in Boston from Ottawa, after a falling out with the Senators. He had helped Ottawa to a regular season title in 1924, but the All-Star's services were deemed superfluous because of newcomer Eddie Gerard.
Lawrence Nycholat D 2007-2008
Born in Calgary in 1979, Nycholat went undrafted after four years with the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. He signed with the Minnesota Wild in 2000 and spent three years playing for Minnesota's minor league affiliates. He was acquired by Ottawa in 2007 for Andy Hedlund and Ottawa's sixth round pick in 2007. Nycholat's second season in Ottawa saw him take over the #3 from Zdeno Chara for just 3 games. He spent the bulk of the year with the Binghamton Senators, scoring 49 points in 77 games before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks to start the 2008-2009 season. He last played hockey in 2011-2012 in Germany and has since joined his family's logistics firm.
Marc Methot D 2012-2013, 2013-2014
Born in Ottawa in 1985, Methot was drafted 168th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2003. Methot played his junior hockey with the London Knights of the OHL between 2002 and 2005, winning the Memorial Cup in 2004-05 with the record-breaking team. He spent three seasons with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL and made his NHL debut in 2006-2007, playing 20 games with the Jackets. He became a permanent NHLer in 2008-2009 and spent four full seasons in Columbus. A broken jaw limited his playing time in his final season with Columbus and he was traded during the 2012 offseason to the Ottawa Senators for forward Nick Foligno. Methot had a successful first season with the Sens, providing reliable defense and earning an invite to Team Canada's Olympic training camp.
Best #3: Zdeno Chara
No question. A Norris Trophy finalist, a First Team All-Star in 2004, and a Second Team All-Star in 2006, Chara achieved more personal success than any other Ottawa blueliner during his time in Ottawa.