With this blog I hope to reach out to hockey fans and players of color – and hockey fans in general – who love this sport and who enjoy witnessing the evolving face of a game that’s beginning to reflect the changing demographics of the United States and Canada.
In plain English, hockey used to be an all-white sport. Not anymore. From the National Hockey League to its affilitated minor leagues to U.S. colleges, junior teams, and beer leagues, hockey is attracting more people of color on the ice and in the stands.
The game has come e a long way since Willie O’Ree became the NHL’s first black player when he suited up with the Boston Bruins in 1958. Since then we’ve witnessed Grant Fuhr win a couple of Stanley Cups backstopping the Edmonton Oilers during his Hall of Fame career, watched the then-Atlanta Thrashers have five black players on its roster, marveled at Jarome Iginla become the toast of Canada with his strong play in the Winter Olympics, wondered how Anson Carter and Georges Laraque managed to fit their cornrows into their helmets, and whooped it up with Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and his proud family during the summer when little brother Malcolm Subban, a goaltender, wasw drafted by the Boston Bruins.
And it’s not just a black thing. Say what you want about Montreal Scott Gomez’s play over the last few season but he still has his name etched on the Stanley Cup from his New Jersey Devils playing days. Toronto Maple Leaf fans are anxiously waiting for forward Nazem Kadri, who is of Lebanese descent, to have a breakout yeas. and Minnesota Wild fans hope to get more from winger Devin Setoguchi when – and if – the NHL’s 2012-13 season begins.
The NHL likes to say “Hockey is for Everyone” and they are right. I got hooked on the game at 13 after watching the first Team Canada-Russia series in 1972. After watching the heart-pounding series, I saved up my allowance and bought a pair of Bobby Orr Rally ice skates. I saved up more allowance a bought some used goalie equipment.
Once I started playing pickup hockey, I quickly learned that there weren’t too many brothers playing hockey in Philadelphia at that time. But I didn’t care, I just wanted to play, and I did – bantam, midget and junior hockey in what was then called the Junior Mid-Atlantic League.
I’m an older goalie now but still have pucks on the brain. I’m the goalie in the camo hockey jersey – thanks for the jersey, Rut Hockey of San Antonio, Texas – posing in the picture atop this post with the congressional lobbyist hockey team and kids from Washington, D.C.’s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program. Fort Dupont is one of more than three dozen similar programs scattered across the U.S. and Canada – from Ice Hockey in Harlem to the Detroit Ice Hockey Association to Philadelphia’s Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. These programs aren’t just building good hockey players, they’re helping to build good people.
Anyway, about the blog. I want this to be a place where people can get news and information about hockey, the players, the coaches, the fans. I want this to be a place where people can comment, communicate, and connect. I want this to be a place for people of all ages, so folks, please keep your comments civil and clean.
The one problem about being a black hockey fan, Cecil Harris, author of “Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey,” once told me was that he couldn’t go to his favorite barbership in Brooklyn, N.Y., while he was growing up and talk with the fellas about the Rangers game he saw the night before.
I want this blog to be our barbershop. And as I open this shop, please be patient with me. I’m new to blogging and the technology associated with it. It will be a learning and fun experience.