The Numbers Game

Readers Dial In To The Magic Behind Their Favorite Uniform Numbers

There’s an old hockey expression that says that you play for the logo on the front of a jersey and not the name on the back. But what about the number? Many players of all ages and skill levels believe that the number on the back gives them mystical powers to skate faster, shoot harder and play longer. Or it may just look cool. Some players have a special connection with their number, an emotional or superstitious bond.  Whatever the reason, some players take their numbers very seriously.



High Five

The number 5 is very special to me. I was born on the 5th day of the 5th month, and I’m the 5th child in my family.
I started playing hockey at the age of 5 and selected my first jersey with this “now treasured” number 5.
I wore the number proudly, and when I was 6 years old I became a goalie. My coaches let me keep this funny goalie number but this year the number 5 didn’t fit over my goalie equipment. So I picked the number 30.
When I was 8, I traveled to watch my cousin play AAA hockey in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Game one came and to my surprise he wore the number 5. I shouted, “Wow, I’m number 5, too.” His mom turned to me with a shocked look on her face. She then asked why I had picked that number. I really didn’t know why. My aunt told me that in 1952 my great uncle Bill Galbraith played for a team called the Fort Frances Canadians. This was the only year for Fort Frances Ontario to win the Allan Cup. And you guessed it, he wore number 5.
Since I found this out, many other relatives have also mysteriously selected the number 5, also not knowing why.
To all who wear the number 5, a high five to you.

Keanna Carlson
International Falls, Minn.


Number On My Back Is Close To My Heart

I have worn the number 8 since I was 5 years old. I am 16 now, so I have been wearing it for 11 years. It is more than just a number to me.

When I was young and just starting out playing hockey, some good friends of my parents had a son who played hockey and wore number 8. When he was 16 he was crossing the street and was hit by a drunk driver. Although I was young when it happened and don’t remember him as well as my family does, I know that we all loved him.

I wear the number 8 in his memory. I know how much his parents appreciate me wearing his number, and I’ve grown to love the number as well. No one will ever take it away from me.

I even have a necklace with a hockey stick and my number 8 next to it that I wear as a good luck charm. 

Kellie Micillo
Sayville, N.Y.


Around The Rink With St. Louis

In the mid-1990s I worked as the International Student Advisor at the University of Vermont. Many foreign students were athletes, and as hockey fans my husband and I were fortunate to obtain coveted tickets to games, cheering on future NHLers Tim Thomas, Eric Perrin, and Martin St. Louis, and their teammates. In fact, I was pregnant with my daughter during the Catamount’s memorable run to the Frozen Four in 1996.

One of the great things about hockey in Vermont is the opportunity to “Skate with the Cats,” where the men and women’s teams open the ice to the community.

During Marty St. Louis’ senior year, I took my daughter to Skate with the Cats, and Marty immediately came over and took my little toddler in his arms and proceeded to go for a couple of very QUICK spins around the rink. As I watched them speed around, my daughter was laughing but my heart was in my throat worried he’d either drop her or fall down. Then I came to my senses. She was infinitely safer with Marty on the ice than with me.

Like many Vermont fans, my family has watched Marty’s progress through the AHL and NHL with a mixture of admiration and awe. Marty is the kind of player parents want their kids to emulate: someone who lets his skills speak for him. Marty’s won the Hart Trophy, the Pearson Award, and the Stanley Cup, but we’re most proud of his Lady Bing nominations, which are a testament to his character. He’s a role model, as a player and as a person. We consider ourselves lucky to have known him.

So when my daughter and I both began playing hockey four years ago, we naturally chose to share our favorite player’s jersey number, 26.

Gisele and Martina Pansz
Durango, Colo.



Number 4, Like Bobby Orr

My lucky number is 4. I have worn many numbers before, but none are as great as 4. I have worn it since I was a Mite when I switched from 21 to 4 in honor of my favorite hockey player, Bobby Orr, who is probably the greatest defenseman who ever laced up a pair of skates.

He inspired many generations of hockey players, but is often forgotten behind Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. I salute and admire Bobby Orr by wearing his number.  Many people have called my number – refs when I get a penalty, angry opponents and screaming parents. 

I have worn my number through unbelievable comebacks, double-digit blowouts, and embarrassing defeats. I wear my number in school, strutting down the hallway with pride not caring what others think, but only caring about the number that I display around the school. My number is the one thing I can count on when I step on the ice.

I also wear the number 4 in many other sports, like baseball and lacrosse. 

But most of all, 4 is my hockey number and will always be. My number always has my back (if you know what I mean) and displays who I am, not just at the rink, but also to the world.     

Alec Flynn
Bridgewater, Mass.



Just Like My Dad

I have always wanted to wear number 22 because my dad wore that number when he played for the University of Denver. He was a good hockey player, and lucky too. I hope that someday the number 22 will bring me some extra luck as well.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to pick my own number because I have always had to take the biggest jersey. I have always been the biggest player on all the teams I have ever played on. To make me feel better, as the other kids picked their jerseys, my dad always reminds me that it does not matter what number you wear. Every year he tells me that it is the name on the back of your jersey that makes you lucky.

It is the person putting on the skates that works really hard and then becomes lucky. He always tells me and my teammates that the association on the front of your jersey means you are part of a team. That being part of a team with players you work hard for and with, that’s what’s important.

Still, when the time is right, and I have the chance to choose my own number, I will choose number 22 and I know it will bring me some extra luck on the ice. I think it will make my dad proud, too.

Ryan Vlaisavljevich
Woodbury, Minn.



The Lucky Number 7

My lucky number has always been 7. It is the number I always choose to put on my sports jerseys. This year I play on the Miami Jr. Redhawks Hockey team, and of course I am number 7.
On Dec. 7, 2007, I was chosen to be the “Player of the Week” and I was featured at Miami University’s hockey game.

The game started shortly after 7 p.m. It was an amazing experience. After the game, my family went to a local store to get food for a family reunion. My mom’s bill was exactly $7.77. My entire day was full of my lucky number 7. Too bad I’m not old enough to play the lottery.
Fisher Tobias
Eaton, Ohio




Three, It’s A Magic Number

My lucky number is 3. It is lucky because it was my first number I’ve ever had. It is very special to me. I’ve worn it since I started playing roller hockey in kindergarten.
I play roller hockey for a house league, played on two travel teams, and played for Virginia Team ’95 in the State Wars for two years. For each team I try to get the number 3 – my lucky number. 

There are not many NHL star players with the number 3. I am usually the only one that wants number three because everybody else wants number eight, 19, 24, 4, and 12, but no one wants number 3. So my chances of getting number three are usually pretty good.
Each season I hope to get the number 3 and when I do, I feel I will have a great season. There have been times where I didn’t get that number and I felt very sad. I almost always do great if I have the number 3. What a confidence booster.
It’s an awesome number. My whole family uses the number 3. It is pretty cool that my mom, dad, little sister, big sister, and I use the same number when they play roller hockey. I hope to be an NHL player one day and wear the number 3.
Cody Vance
Stephens City, Va.



Who is your favorite American player?
Auston Matthews
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Tage Thompson
Matthew Tkachuk
Patrick Kane
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