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Monday, February 6, 2017

Hockey is for Everyone: Black History Edition

ColouredHockeyLeagueNovaScotia
Coloured Hockey League, Nova Scotia, 1910
Years ago, I ran across a kickstarter campaign, that piqued my interest. It was a plan by Arvay Adams to design a line of apparel to honor the teams of the Coloured Hockey League, which was founded in Nova Scotia around 1894. The NHL was not formed until 1917, so I was surprised to learn that such a league existed, and I wanted to know more about what contributions these early hockey players made to the sport.

According to wikipedia:
"The Coloured Hockey League is credited by some as being the first league to allow the goaltender to leave his feet to cover a puck in 1900. This practice was not permitted elsewhere until the formation of the National Hockey League in 1917. In their book Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895-1925, historians George and Darril Fosty also claim that the first player to use the slapshot was Eddie Martin of the Halifax Eureka in 1906."
Since the CHL existed decades before the NHL, I imagine that they were responsible for many other innovations that were adopted by the NHL. ESPN did this segment on the book, Black Ice, mentioned above:


Last year, the film Soul On Ice: Past, Present, and Future debuted, and it tells the stories of the contributions of black hockey players throughout history. As part of #HockeyIsForEveryone month, select Clubs will host screenings of the film. Official trailer:


The CHL was disbanded by 1930. We would not see a black player in the NHL until Willie O'Ree made his debut with the Boston Bruins in 1958. Now, there are currently around 30 players of African descent, playing on an NHL or affiliate team.

At this year's NHL All Star game, Philadelphia Flyer forward Wayne Simmonds won the Game MVP award, becoming the second black player to do so. The first was Edmonton Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr in 1986. Fuhr was also honored as one of the 100 best players in the NHL.
Wayne Simmonds 2012-04-20
Wayne Simmonds is interviewed prior to an April 20, 2012 playoff game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA. Pens Through My Lens (Own work)
[CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

Hockey fandom is also growing among African Americans. Just check out this latest blog from Evan F. Moore on The Shadow League - A Black Man's Guide To Loving Hockey.

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