Boston Bruins

Mar 6, 2022; Newark, New Jersey, USA; New Jersey Devils center Pavel Zacha (37) moves the puck against St. Louis Blues during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Tom Horak-USA TODAY Sports

  • Pavel Zacha’s move to the Bruins was about as perfect and seamless a transition as he could have ever hoped for, really.

    Acquired from the Devils in a one-for-one swap involving Erik Haula, Zacha already owned a place in Boston and called it home in the offseason. He’s best friends with hometown pal and current Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril, and he has national team experience with David Pastrnak.

    There was just one problem, however, and it related to Zacha’s number.

    But Zacha took care of that Monday after about a month and change of intrigue, and settled on No.18 ahead of his 2022-23 season with the B’s.

  • Zacha came to the Bruins as a career-long No. 37 during his time with the Devils.

    That, uh, wasn’t going to change hands from Patrice Bergeron to Zacha, and Zacha couldn’t even go with the old fashioned number flip, as No. 73 is worn by Charlie McAvoy. No. 17 was also not available (that belongs to Nick Foligno), and No. 27 is worn by Hampus Lindholm. (For the record, I have no clue if Zacha even wanted No. 17 or No. 27, but the idea of keeping a seven in his number was just always a long shot if the 25-year-old had an interest in going with something similar.)

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 28: Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – JANUARY 28: Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2021. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Hell, Zacha couldn’t even take the number he’s worn for the Czech national team (No. 14), as that belongs to B’s fourth line thumper Chris Wagner.

  • So it’s off to No. 18, which will featured atop the Boston depth chart to begin the season, as new B’s coach Jim Montgomery confirmed to the WEEI-NESN Jimmy Fund Telethon that the season will begin with Pavel Zacha riding to the left of Patrice Bergeron and Jake DeBrusk on the top line.

    That move comes with Brad Marchand expected to miss the first two months of the season (the good news is that there hasn’t been any sort of setback for Marchand or any of the other injured Bruins), and with Zacha looking to build off a career-best 36-point campaign for the Devils last year.

    When the team is fully healthy, Zacha, who can also play center when necessary, projects as the team’s third-line left wing, likely with Charlie Coyle as his centerman.

  • Boston’s No. 18 has been a bit of a revolving door of late, in case you’re wondering, with four players wearing that number since 2018.

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 07: Brett Ritchie #18 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at TD Garden on December 07, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 07: Brett Ritchie #18 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at TD Garden on December 07, 2019. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Kenny Agostino wore No. 18 during his five-game run with the club in 2017-18, Lee Stempniak donned it the following season during his brief NHL cameo, and Brett Ritchie took it on for his 27-game run with the club in 2019-20.

    Most recently, the number was worn by Greg McKegg during the pandemic-delayed 2021 year.

  • in Game Four of the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden on June 19, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.

    Nathan Horton looks on during Game 4 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final in Boston, Massachusetts. (Getty Images)

    Prior to that, however, the number did have a bit of cache around these parts, as it worn by Nathan Horton during his three-season run as Boston’s top-line right wing.

    A perfect fit with Milan Lucic and David Krejci, Horton put up 56 goals and 107 points during his 169 games of regular season play with the Bruins, but was money in the postseason, with 15 goals and 36 points in 43 career playoff games, all of which came during the B’s runs to the 2011 and 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, as Horton missed the 2012 playoffs with an injury.

    And believe it or not, those 43 games were Horton’s only career playoff experience, as he did not qualify for the postseason during his time in Florida, and failed to make it to the postseason with Columbus before injuries ended his career way too soon.

  • BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24:  Reilly Smith #18 of the Boston Bruins plays against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at TD Garden on March 24, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MARCH 24: Reilly Smith #18 of the Boston Bruins plays against the Montreal Canadiens during the game at TD Garden on March 24, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

    The Bruins even had a decent follow-up to Horton’s run with No. 18, as it worn by Reilly Smith during his two-season run as a top-six right winger for the Black and Gold.

    Acquired from Dallas as part of the return for Tyler Seguin, Smith put up 20 goals and 51 points in his first season with the Bruins, and had 40 points in 81 games the following season.

    Traded to Florida in 2015 in exchange for Jimmy Hayes (and to free up the cap space to sign Matt Beleskey), Smith eventually landed in Vegas as one of the original Golden Knights and has remained with the club as a top-six fixture. In fact, Smith enters the 2022-23 season third on the Golden Knights’ all-time goals (98) and points (230) leaderboard, trailing only longtime linemates William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault.

  • 24 Oct 1999: Kyle McLaren #18 of the Boston Bruins controls the puck during the game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. The Bruins defeated the Ducks 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Donald Miralle /Allsport

    24 Oct 1999: Kyle McLaren #18 of the Boston Bruins controls the puck during the game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at The Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California. (Donald Miralle /Allsport)

    Other notable players to wear No. 18 for the Bruins over the years: Kyle McLaren, Keith Crowder, John Wensink, and Ed Westfall.

    The number was also worn briefly by Willie O’Ree, whose No. 22 is hanging from the Garden rafters, and Barry Pederson. In what has to be a team record or damn close to it, Pederson actually wore four different numbers over the course of two separate tenures with the organization.

    Zacha, meanwhile, will try to break what’s been an aforementioned recent one-and-done stretch for players who have worn that number.