28 on 28: Steve Larmer Was the Greatest to Wear Number 28 Beyond Chicago

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28 on 28: Steve Larmer Was the Greatest to Wear Number 28 Beyond Chicago

Chicago Blackhawks

“When you live in Chicago, and you play for the Blackhawks, that No. 28 belongs to Steve Larmer. I don’t know how many times you have to call a guy underrated until he’s no longer that, but that’s kind of what Steve Larmer is.”

Those comments came from Patrick Sharp a couple years ago when NHL.com did a series during the pandemic that voted for the best player ever to wear each number in the history of the league.

Larmer was voted the best player ever to wear No. 28.

Claude Giroux was a distant second in their voting. Larmer received 11 first-place votes, six second-place votes, and one for third. Giroux received five first-place votes, six second, and four voters ranked him third. Brian Rafalski and Steve Duchesne each received one first-place vote.

Since the vote was tallied, Giroux has reached 1,000 games played (exactly that number with the Flyers before he was traded to Florida this past season). He has now played in 1,018 games and has produced 923 points. Larmer produced 1,012 points in 1,006 career regular season games.

A fun fact listed in the NHL.com write-up is that Larmer became the first Chicago player to wear No. 31 when he was briefly called up in 1980 and wore it for seven games during stops in Chicago during the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. He was given No. 28 at training camp in 1982 and kept it for the rest of his career.

That career included a remarkable 884 consecutive games played for the Blackhawks, the third-longest streak in NHL history. He continued to wear the number after he was traded to the Rangers (via Hartford), where he helped end their Stanley Cup drought.

In the history of the Blackhawks, 16 players have worn No. 28. Since Larmer left the club, nine have been allowed to wear it. Mark Bell wore it for five years, the longest of any player since Larmer was traded. The number remained out of circulation for eight years before Bell put it on in 2001.

Here’s the list of players who have worn Larmer’s number since he left:

  • Mark Bell
  • Mike Blunden
  • Craig Adams
  • Martin Lapointe
  • Jake Dowell
  • Ben Smith
  • Ryan Garbutt
  • Henri Jokiharju
  • Vinnie Hinostroza

With respect to that list, none of them lives up to the standard set by Larmer. And Sharp’s comments still ring true today. We head Pat Foley, and Eddie Olczyk say as much during broadcasts this year. And others, including his Hall of Fame linemate Denis Savard, have echoed those sentiments since his retirement as well.

As the Blackhawks begin handing out numbers to new players, one they should keep out of the lineup is 28.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab