History of a Number: 3

Hockey sweaters are one of the most iconic pieces of sports memorabilia in the world. For many players, they have their own special meaning for the number the select. Whether it be from a childhood hero or just an available number, going through a number’s history is fascinating.

Number 3 was issued during the Flyers very first season to defenseman Joe Watson. He would only wear number 3 for one season before switching to his iconic number 14. The number was unworn for the 1969-70 season, but was claimed during the 1970-71 season by journeyman defenseman Larry Hillman, who wore the number until he was traded to the LA Kings in June of 1971.

Defenseman Jim Mair wore number 3 two games in 1972 during his callup from the AHL. Larry Brown also wore number 3 short term in 1972 for his 12-game NHL stint. Third round pick and fringe-NHLer Willie Brossart was next to don number 3 who wore it for four games in 1973 before the Flyers sold his contract to the Maple Leafs on May 23, 1973.

Number 3 found a longer term home on defenseman Tom Bladon to start the 1974-75 season. Bladon wore it until he was traded to the Penguins on June 14, 1978. It was picked by upcoming star Behn Wilson to start the 1978 season. Wilson racked up over 200 penalty minutes in two separate seasons during his Flyers career before he was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks at the 1983 NHL Entry Draft. The man they acquired in that trade, Doug Crossman, was next to wear number 3.

Crossman spent five seasons in Philadelphia before being traded to LA for Jay Wells on September 29, 1988. Later the same season, Gord Murphy wore number 3 and carried it into the new decade until he was traded to the Bruins in January on 1992.

One of the two men they acquired in that trade Garry Galley wore number 3 upon his arrival in Philadelphia. Galley would play the peak of his career as a Flyer, registering career highs in goals, points, and penalty minutes during his tenure. Galley was a Flyer until he was traded to Buffalo in April of 1995.

Prospect Darren Rumble was next to wear number 3. He wore it during all 15 games he spent on Philly between the end of the 1995-96 season and the start of 1996-97 season. Another prospect, Aris Brimanis wore number 3 the following during his three-game callup at the end of the 1996-97 season.

The number would be unworn until the 1997-98 trade deadline when the Flyers would acquire Dan McGillis from Edmonton. McGillis’ play was wildly inconsistent from dominate to sub-par. He remained a Flyer until December 6, 2002 when he was traded to the Sharks for Marcus Ragnarsson.

Number 3 laid untouched for over a year until the Flyers acquired Mattias Timander from the Islanders on January 22, 2004. Timander played 34 games as a Flyer before he went back to he native Sweden to play in the SHL.

After the lockout, the Flyers signed longtime Sharks defenseman Mike Rathje on August 2, 2005. Rathje played 93 games as a Flyers before back and hip issues ended his career early in the 2006-07 season.

Lasse Kukkonen was the next player to wear number 3 for 22 games. He was wearing number 28 for the previous two years until Claude Giroux burst onto the scene in 2008-09. Kukkonen left in free agency during the summer of 2009.

Oskars Bartulis made his NHL debut on November of 2009 and claimed number 3. He wore 3 until his contract was bought out on June 30, 2012.

Number 3 went unclaimed until January 13, 2013 when the Flyers signed journeyman defenseman Kurtis Foster to help the depleted blueline, he was one of 13 defenseman to suit up for the Flyers during the 2012-13 season. Foster played 23 games until the end of the season when he was let go in free agency during the summer of 2013.

After two years of sitting dormant, the Flyers acquired Radko Gudas from the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 2, 2015. Gudas wore the number until he was traded to the Washington Capitals on June 14, 2019.


By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)

photo credit: NHL.com


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