A History of Recent Red Wings Midseason Number Changes

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With Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Sprong giving up his #88 jersey to free agent signee Patrick Kane, switching to #17 in the process, we have a rare case of a Red Wings roster player switching his number in the middle of the season.

This is something that used to happen much more often.  Famously, Tomas Holmstrom switched from #15 to #96 after the Red Wings acquired Dmitri Mironov at the trade deadline in 1998 (with Mironov also making a midseason switch as he wore #51 for his first game as a Red Wing).  Kevin Hodson wore a bunch of numbers in 1999.  Todd Gill and Stacy Roest switched their numbers around in 2000.

Here are the details of the four most recent such changes, going back about twenty years.

Dominic Turgeon, #45 to #23

For his first few training camps with the Red Wings, Dominic Turgeon was assigned #78.  In 2017, though, he switched to his usual #23, which he wore in honor of his sister.  Early into the 2017-18 season, while Turgeon was assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Red Wings acquired Scott Wilson, who briefly wore #23 before he was dealt away again.  As a result, when Turgeon was called up to make his NHL debut on the road in Chicago on January 14, 2018, the team didn’t have a white #23 jersey with his name ready for him.  “Turgeon” got slapped on a spare #45 jersey and he debuted wearing that number.  Two days later, when he made his home debut, it was in the #23 jersey he wore for the remaining eight games of his Red Wings career.

Daniel Cleary, #17 to #11

Daniel Cleary had an interesting jersey number history in Detroit, which I’ve written about before.  He wore #11 for much of his time in Detroit but lost that number to Daniel Alfredsson for the 2013-14 season, with Cleary taking #71 when he re-signed with the team in time for training camp.  At the start of the 2014-15 season, Alfredsson wasn’t sure if he was going to continue his career and the Red Wings held a spot for him, leading Cleary to start that campaign wearing #17.  Alfredsson ended up announcing his retirement on December 4, 2014, and just hours later Cleary took to the ice for the Red Wings having switched from #17 back to #11.

Brad May, #20 to #24

The Red Wings brought veteran enforcer Brad May in for a pro tryout during training camp in 2009.  They opted not to sign him immediately but by the time their home opener rolled around on October 8, May was under contract and in the lineup wearing the #20 he’d been assigned in camp.  By the next game, he’d switched to #24 with the blessing of its previous owner, Chris Chelios.

Mark Mowers, #20 to #44

Signed as a free agent in 2002, Mark Mowers was assigned #75 in his first training camp but never wore that number for Detroit, as he spent the entirety of his first season with the organization in Grand Rapids.  By the time he earned a spot in the lineup in 2003, Luc Robitaille had departed and Mowers switched to #20.  That wouldn’t last, though.  Mowers wore that number for a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on February 26, 2004, and the next day the Red Wings traded for Robert Lang.  With Mowers scratched, Lang made his Detroit debut wearing #20 on February 29.  When Mowers was next in the lineup on March 3, he was wearing #44.

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Clark founded the site that would become DetroitHockey.Net in September of 1996. He continues to write for the site and executes the site's design and development, as well as that of DH.N's sibling site, FantasyHockeySim.com.

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