There was a short blurb in ESPN: The Magazine about Colorado’s Paul Stastny switching numbers so that he can don his dad’s digits: 26. Got me thinking…..Elias wears number 26, previously sported by Peter Stastny during his time with the Devils. I’ve wondered why Elias chose 26, especially when he wore 25 and 22 in Albany (although they were taken by Jason Arnott and Claude Lemeiux at various times). A potential but unlikely explanation is that 22, 25 and 13 (his birthday) were unavailable (no Devil has ever worn #13, which seems weird given that the team’s crest invites all kinds of evil juju anyway, adding triskaidekaphobia to the mix might actually be a double negative kind of thing) so he doubled 13 and got 26. More likely is that Elias joined the big club shortly after Peter Stastny departed, and he took the logical Czech digits.
I’m always fascinated as to why players choose the numbers they do. Mogilny was 89 to honor the year of his defection and escape from Russia. Jagr’s 68 is a tribute the independence of Czechoslovakia, precursor to the Czech Republic. Crosby wears his birth year (87). Gretzky did an alliterative stint on Mr. Hockey and got 99. It’s not often that there’s a story behind the numbers, but the stories tend to add to the richness of the fan experience.