Before this season, only four players in NHL history have worn No. 66.
Former Philadelphia Flyers left winger Yanick Dupre, former Washington Capitals center Milan Novy, former Vancouver Canucks left winger Gino Odjick and Mario Lemieux.
It is likely safe to say that it is most associated with Lemieux.
So when T.J. Brodie surprisingly made the Calgary Flames' NHL roster this month, he seemed to be doing the unthinkable by wearing No. 66. In the eyes of many Penguins fans, he was being disrespectful.
Brodie is your typical rookie, and the 20-year-old defenseman said he is just happy to be playing at the NHL level, and all he wants to worry about is how he can stay there. A fourth-round pick in 2008, he had an excellent training camp and found a way to start the season in Calgary. But because he is on a two-way contract, it will not take a lot for Calgary's brass to demote him to their Abbotsford (British Columbia) minor league club in the American Hockey League and a life of riding buses.
So, to say the least, he is not an established player, and, as a result, he was given 66. He did not ask for it. It was just there in his stall at the start of training camp, he said. And, as a rookie, it was not his place to ask for another. Once he establishes himself a bit, he said he may try to get a number that stands out less.
Brodie recently discussed his situation with Seth Rorabaugh, the Empty Netters blogger for post-gazette.com.
• How did you get No. 66? I got it two years ago when I showed up (for training) camp, and it stuck. It's just easier for the training staff to keep it for now.
• Were you ever a fan of Lemieux? Definitely. I always watched Don Cherry "Rock'em Sock'em" (videos). They had a bunch of his goals. He beat Ray Bourque one time and split the (defense) once. And I remember the comeback and when he won the gold medal for Canada (at the 2002 Olympics).
• You realize some Penguins fans aren't crazy about this? I understand. He's a great player, and I have total respect for him. It's not any disrespect. If I get a chance to change it, I will.
• What about the Facebook group dedicated to forcing you to change the number? It's pretty funny, but at the same time I can't worry about it.
• You wore No. 22 with Barrie of the Ontario Junior Hockey League last season. Does that number mean anything to you? I really never had a favorite number. Of the three that were available at Barrie, that's the one I took.
• If you're still on the NHL roster and still wearing No. 66 when the Flames visit Pittsburgh Nov. 27, do you expect to be booed? Oh yeah, definitely. Some fans won't be happy with it, but that comes with the territory.
Seth Rorabaugh: email@example.com .