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‘Who Wore It Best?’: Black Hawks legend Pierre Pilote named best No. 3 in NHL history

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The three-time Norris Trophy winner had 10 of the 19 first-place votes.

Pilote Skates Behind The Net Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

Pierre Pilote is the best player to wear No. 3 in Blackhawks history, and in the entire NHL, according to an panel.

Pilote, a defenseman, earned the honor with 42 points over defenseman Harry Howell’s 28 points. First-place votes were worth three points, second-place votes worth two points and third-place votes worth one point.

Pilote received 10 of the 19 first-place votes, five for second and two for third, while Howell had four votes for first, three for second and 10 for third. Marcel Pronovst and Scott Stevens also received first-place votes with two and three, respectively.

Pilote wore Nos. 22 and 21 during his first two seasons then switched to No. 3 in 1957 for the next 11 seasons with Chicago. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman three straight seasons (1962-65) and was second in voting for the Norris three other times. He helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 1961, scoring 15 points (three goals, 12 assists) in 12 playoff games.

He was inducted into the Pro Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975, and Chicago retired No. 3 in his honor and for defenseman Keith Magnuson on Nov. 12, 2008.

Others receiving votes: Harry Howell, 28 (4-3-10); Marcel Pronovost, 27 (2-9-3); Scott Stevens, 9 (3-0-0); Tomas Jonsson, 2 (0-1-0); Ken Daneyko, 2 (0-1-0); Butch Bouchard, 1 (0-0-1); Seth Jones, 1 (0-0-1); James Patrick, 1 (0-0-1); J.C. Tremblay, 1 (0-0-1)

Phil Esposito at No. 7

Esposito was named the best NHL player to wear No. 7. He played from 1964-67 with Chicago before he was traded to the Bruins and went on to have a Hall of Fame career. He won the Stanley Cup twice, five-time Art Ross Trophy winner as the league’s leading scorer (1969, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974) and two-time Hart Trophy as most valuable player (1969, 1974).

Others receiving votes: Ted Lindsay, 20 (1-6-5); Paul Coffey, 13 (1-3-4); Howie Morenz, 10 (1-2-3); Rod Gilbert, 7 (0-1-5); Tim Horton, 4 (0-2-0); Ray Bourque, 3 (0-1-1); Joe Mullen, 2 (0-1-0); Bill Barber, 1 (0-0-1)

Phil Housley at No. 6

Housley took the honor for No. 6. The 2015 Hall of Fame inductee played the final two seasons of his 21-year career with Chicago (2001-03). He ranks fourth in goals (338) and points (1,232), and fifth in assists (894) among NHL defenseman in 1,495 games with the Sabres (1982-90), Jets (1990-93), Blues (1993-94), Flames (1994-96, 98-2001), Devils (1996) and Chicago.

Others receiving votes: Toe Blake, 40 (7-9-1); Shea Weber, 19 (0-3-13); Ace Bailey, 4 (0-2-0); Ken Morrow, 2 (0-0-2); Jimmy Roberts, 1 (0-0-1); Ralph Backstrom, 1 (0-0-1)

Bobby Orr at No. 4

Orr, an eight-time Norris winner (1967-75) with the Bruins, was named the best NHL player to wear No. 4. Orr signed with Chicago in 1976, but injuries limited him to only 26 games (1976-79). He scored 27 points (six goals, 21 assists) with the Black Hawks. The 1979 Hall of Fame inductee missed the entire 1977-78 season after having multiple knee surgeries.

Others receiving votes: Jean Beliveau, 39 (1-18-0); Scott Stevens, 10 (0-0-10); Red Kelly, 6 (0-0-6); Vincent Lecavalier, 2 (0-0-2); Rob Blake, 1 (0-0-1)