They don’t ask you what number you’d like in the National Hockey League when you are an undrafted free agent out of junior facing years of development time in the minors.

Generally, you take whatever late-century digits you are issued at training camp, are grateful to have an NHL logo on the other side of the jersey, and don’t ask about a real hockey number until you earn one.

Zack MacEwen was given No. 71 by the Vancouver Canucks. Now, he’s never giving it up without a fight.

“That’s going to be the number I’m going to keep,” the winger from Prince Edward Island says over the phone. “My dad was born on Aug. 17, 1971, so that number really resonates with me now and that’s the number I’m going to keep. Everything happens for a reason.”

MacEwen’s dad, Craig, died in Halifax on May 5 from the complications of a massive stroke. He hung on long enough on life-support for Zack to travel from Vancouver to say goodbye.