Blues’ winger Schwartz swaps jersey numbers in tribute to late sister

Jaden Schwartz stands for the singing of the national anthem prior to a game against the Edmonton Oilers on March 23, 2013 at Rexall Place.

Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images

In a tribute to his late sister, St. Louis left wing Jaden Schwartz is swapping his familiar No. 9 for No. 17.

Mandi Schwartz wore the jersey for Yale, where she played in three seasons and was named an ECAC Hockey All-Academic in every one. 

“Mandi was a beautifully simple being in the sense that her life was driven by love for her friends, family and the sport of ice hockey,” close friend and college teammate Caroline Murphy recalls on the website of the Mandi Schwartz Foundation, established by Yale captain Aleca Hughes. “I suspect that her love for ice hockey had much to do with her love for the community surrounding the sport as much as the physical action of playing.”

After being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia during her junior year in 2008, Mandi fought the cancer with chemotherapy, radiation, and an umbilical cord blood transplant before passing away on April  3, 2011. Through her battle, Mandi inspired her Yale teammates to increase awareness and funds for her cause as well as highlight the important role of bone marrow and umbilical cord blood donors.

"She was a perfect role model for me," Jaden told CBS Sports in 2013. "I  looked up to her ever since I was young, and whether it was hockey — watching her — or school or just hanging out with people, I always watched what she did and I learned from it."

So it’s fitting that Mandi’s 22-year-old younger brother will be able to represent his sister with the number he’ll wear on his back every night.

Jaden announced the move on Twitter, standing next to his sister’s stall in the dressing room of the women’s team, where her jersey permanently hangs:

The number on the Blues’ roster was up for grabs after Schwartz’s former teammate Vladimir Sobotka signed a three-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League earlier this month.

Schwartz is coming off his best statistical season in three pro campaigns, scoring 25 goals and adding 31 assists in 80 games. He also recorded three points in six games vs. the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

For more on Mandi’s story, go to the Mandi Schwartz Foundation’s website. You can also read FOX Sports’ feature on her and the Blues’ trip to Yale here.

(h/t: The Score for the story)