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Bill Beacon, Canadian Press
Published: Saturday, October 21, 2006


MONTREAL (CP) - The gesture from a teammate means as much as getting to wear No. 26 for Colorado Avalanche forward Paul Stastny.

Stastny's father, Peter Stastny, wore that number during his stellar NHL career, who played with Quebec, New Jersey and St. Louis from 1980 to 1995.

Defenceman John-Michael Liles gave No. 26 to the younger Stastny and took No. 4. The players were to don their new numbers for the first time in a game Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

"I don't think numbers are a big issue, but it's that icing on the cake, that special touch to have the same number I wore my whole life and that my father had when he played in the NHL," said Stastny, a 21-year-old rookie forward.

"I feel grateful to have (Liles) as a teammate. He's one of the guys I look up to and the fact that he came up to me and asked me if I wanted the number speaks volumes about him."

Before making the offer, the 25-year-old Liles cleared it with one of his boyhood idols, former Avs defenceman Rob Blake. No. 4 became available when Blake signed with the Los Angeles Kings this summer.

"Giving up the number to Paul Stastny is the right thing to do," said Liles. "It's a family number.

"He deserves it. He worked hard to make this team and he's going to be part of this team for years to come."

Liles always wore No. 4 before he joined the Avalanche out of Michigan State University for the 2003-04 season. When the Zionsville, Ind., native went to his first Avs camp, he was given No 26 and kept it.

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