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by Dyan LeBourdais / New York Islanders
When Islanders forward PA Parenteau was young, he wore an array of different sweater numbers, but shortly after joining his first junior team, wearing sweater no. 15 became an important part of his uniform.

Before joining the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the 2000-01 season, the no. 15 was just another number for Parenteau. When the Hull, Quebec native began his first season in the QMJHL, many of his new teammates quickly became his lifelong friends. One of those new teammates, Jonathan Roy, had been diagnosed with and won his battle with cancer just prior to Parenteau’s freshman season.

“I played with a guy in Moncton that had cancer and he had no. 15 my rookie year, so the year after I got traded to Chicoutimi Sagueneens in juniors, I picked 15 for him,” said the Islanders forward. “Ever since then, I’ve always had that every time I could.”

Knowing someone that had gone through something so profound meant a lot to the then 17-year-old, and watching his teammate’s determination to beat the disease was truly inspirational.

“We didn’t play long together, only four months, but that was the only time I’ve had a teammate fighting something like that,” Parenteau continued. “It was really special. You don’t see that every year, you don’t live through that every year and he really affected me, that’s why when I got traded to the other team I wanted to wear his number.”

Everyday that Parenteau steps out onto the ice in his uniform, sporting the no. 15 on his back, he is honoring his friend.

“I had it in Portland in the minors, I had it in Cincinnati, it wasn’t available in Hartford, and when Bogsie (Scott Boggs, Islanders Equipment Manager) asked me what number I wanted, I asked if he had 15 and he said yes,” Parenteau said.

While getting to the National Hockey League may have been a tough road for the Islanders forward, who was drafted by Anaheim in the 2001 Entry Draft, he was finally given his chance as he cracked the Rangers lineup last season playing 22 games. The right wing was unable to choose his number and was given sweater no. 38. When he skated onto the ice for his Islanders debut, Parenteau proudly wore no. 15 for the first time on an NHL sheet.

“It’s been 10 years since I’ve played with him, but it’s a big thing that he was able to fight it,” Parenteau said. “It’s definitely even bigger now that I can wear the number on the NHL level, still the same number carrying over.”

Islanders who also sported jersey no. 15, include Bill Harris (1972-73 through 1978-79), Brad Dalgarno (1985-86 through 1995-96), Bryan Smolinski (1996-97 through 1998-99), Jason Dawe (1997-98 through 1998-99), Tom Chorske (1997-98 through 1998-99), Ted Donato (1998-99 and 2001-02), Brad Isbister (1999-00 through 2002-03) and Jeff Tambellini (2005-06 through 2009-10).
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