My cousin and I began discussing ramping up our attendance at Stars games. More games meant the need to expand my Stars wardrobe. I only had a blank white home jersey and was looking at buying a road black. The black jerseys did not look as good blank, as the white so the question came up of who would I get put on mine. I had already seen a few friends of mine get burned by trades just after having purchased that players jersey. I decided to have my name put on it. After all the Stars couldn’t trade me. I picked the number 25 because it was my favorite number that wasn’t taken. I ordered it by mail through a holiday promotion the Stars were having. It was due to arrive in the middle of December.
December 15, 1995 a package was dropped off at my neighbor’s house. I raced over and verified it was indeed my new game day sweater. I was so excited and could not wait to wear it to Reunion Arena. December 19, 1995 the Stars acquired Joe Nieuwendyk from the Calgary Flames. My cousin Bryan was the first to call me and give me the news. I said, “Don’t tell me.”, He said, “Yep.” My cousin and I have that ability to have full conversations in a handful of words. In that one word I knew Joe had taken my number. I laughed, moved on, and thought that the story would end there.
The next season was our first as season ticket holders and we decided to try going to a few of the events they held during the season. The first was Skate with the Stars, which was a chance to meet the players and get a few autographs. As we approached Nieuwendyk’s table he noticed my jersey and asked, “You know that’s my number, right?” I was a shy guy and normally would have just jokingly apologized and moved on. For some reason this time I did not back down. I looked Joe in the eye and replied, “It’s my number, I had it first. I’ll give it to you they day you win the Cup with the Stars. Then I will retire this jersey and never wear it again.”
June 19-20, 1999 Joe Nieuwendyk and the Stars live up their end of the bargain by defeating the Buffalo Sabres in the third overtime of game six of the Stanley Cup Finals. Adding an exclamation point to our deal, Joe Nieuwendyk took the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs most valuable player. After celebrating the Cup victory I honored my end and removed my jersey for the last time. It has since been framed and hung on my wall.