The Prevalence of Black Players in the NHL
According to Webster’s dictionary, black, as a race, is defined as “relating to individuals with African ancestry.” In addition, we must add that these individuals must have two black parents. If one parent is not black, then the politically correct term is “bi-racial.” For example, since I was born in the United States with two black parents, I am classified as an African-American or Afro-American. In the same sense, an individual with two black parents born in Canada would be called an African-Canadian or Afro-Canadian. The Afro term is not used as much anymore because Afro was term dealing with the 70s hairdo called the Afro.
Being an African-American hockey fan is akin to being an African-American Republican. Basically, there aren’t very many of us, and this bothers me. Why is this? Well, for starters, hockey is a very expensive sport which is more prevalent in wealthy, Caucasian or white areas. In many African-American communities, there aren’t any hockey rinks within hours. You cannot expect children to gain interest in a sport without the right resources. I would argue that there is the same issue with tennis and the same issue with golf.
Due to this dilemma, I am on a quest to expose African-American communities to the NHL. One way to do this is to endorse African-Canadian superstars such as Right Winger, Wayne Simmonds, from the Philadelphia Flyers. Let’s face it, I am from Pittsburgh, so I have been bred to hate the Philadelphia Flyers. However, I have to get credit where credit is due. Simmonds deserves credit for yesterdays 6-5 win in regulation over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Simmonds scored two goals, one assist, and had an epic battle with Tanner Glass (Click the link below to view entire fight).
So how many black players are in the NHL and where are they originally from? This is not an easy question, but my answer excludes the following races: Bi-Racial, Jamaican, Nigerian, and Barbadian.
- Wayne Simmonds (Philadelphia Flyers; born in Canada)
- Devante Smith-Pelly (Anaheim Ducks; born in Canada)
- Kenndal McCardle (Winnipeg Jets, born in Canada)
- Evander Kane (Winnipeg Jets, born in Canada)
- Trevor Daley (Dallas Stars; born in Canada)
- Mark Fraser (Toronto Maple Leafs; born in Canada)
- Derek Joslin (Vancouver Canucks; born in Canada)
- Ray Emery (Chicago Blackhawks; born in Canada)
- Ryan Reeves (St. Louis Blues; born in Canada)
So, there it is. The answer is nine, active black players, none of which are American born. Most research sites will argue that there are a total of 26 active, black players; however, I would argue that we should only counted players that fit the above definition of black, not mixed races. In most other demographic reports, mixed races are counted separately. For example, players like: Jerome Ignilia, Greg Mauldin, and Robbie Earl were not counted in my research because they do not fit the definition of “black.”
Here is some more history for you. Signed in 1958, Willie O’Ree was first black player in the NHL. The first black player inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame was Grant Fuhr. Yes, both O’Ree and Fuhr were both Canadian born players too. Go figure. So my quest continues, not only to make hockey more prevalent in America, but to make hockey more prevalent to African-Americans.