Joel Ward wore #29 his first three seasons in the NHL. After breaking out for seven goals and thirteen points during Nashville’s deep playoff run in 2011, Ward signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Washington Capitals. With great contracts must also come great responsibility, so Ward picked a commensurate jersey number.
Ward chose to wear #42 in honor of Jackie Robinson — the first black Major League Baseball player. Since then, Ward’s been nothing but class, a leader of the African American community for the region and for a sport that badly needs one. When confronted with racist tweets after his Game 7 game-winner against Boston last year, Joel showed poise and maturity.