A reader recently asked me if the New York Islanders had any other black players skate for them besides forward Josh Ho-Sang, a late-season call-up from the minor leagues, and former goaltender-turned-broadcaster Kevin Weekes.
The quick answer is yes: forward Kyle Okposo, who was taken by the Isles with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 National Hockey League Draft, played for the team until he joined the Buffalo Sabres for the 2016-17 season.
Christopher Gibson, a black goaltender from Finland, who appeared in four games last season, and three other players also had stints on Long Island over the years.
The reader’s question made me realize that a lot of hockey fans, especially newer ones, may not know that their favorite teams have had several black players on their rosters over the decades.
Every NHL team has had at least two black or biracial players on their rosters. The Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, and New York Rangers have had 12 black players don their jerseys.
Few folks remember that about 25 percent of 2010-11 roster of the Atlanta Thrashers – now the Winnipeg Jets – was black: Forwards Evander Kane, Anthony Stewart and Nigel Dawes and defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Johnny Oduya.
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Many of the players hail from traditional hockey areas like Toronto or St. Paul, Minnesota. But they also were born in non-traditional hockey places like Zaria, Nigeria, Kingston, Jamaica, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and Los Angeles, California.
The players run the gamut from those who’ve enjoyed long and Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy careers like Los Angeles Kings forward Jarome Iginla, and retired Oilers goaltending great Grant Fuhr to pugilists like forwards Val James and Donald Brashear to relative newbies like Ho-Sang.
Here’s a list of NHL teams and black players. Abbreviations: C=center, D=defense, G=goaltender, LW=left wing, RW=right wing.
ANAHEIM DUCKS: Emerson Etem, RW; Devante Smith-Pelley, RW; Chris Stewart, RW; Ray Emery, G.
ARIZONA COYOTES/WINNIPEG JETS: Anthony Duclair, LW; Jason Doig, D; Nigel Dawes, LW; Steven Fletcher, LW; Georges Laraque, RW; Craig Martin, RW; Kenndal McArdle, LW; Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, G; Bill Riley, RW.
BOSTON BRUINS: Jarome Iginla, Willie O’Ree, LW; Graeme Townshend, RW; Malcolm Subban, G; Darren Banks, LW; Anson Carter, RW; Ray Neufeld, RW; Nathan Robinson, C; Sean Brown, D; Sandy McCarthy, RW.
BUFFALO SABRES: Val James, LW; Tony McKegney, LW; Evander Kane, LW; Mike Grier, RW; Justin Bailey, RW; Nick Baptiste, RW; Grant Fuhr, G; Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, D; Rumun Ndur, D; Sean McMorrow, LW; Kyle Okposo, RW; Chris Stewart, RW.
CALGARY FLAMES: Akim Aliu, RW; Jarome Iginla, RW; Fred Brathwaite, G: Grant Fuhr, G; Nigel Dawes, LW; Olivier Kylington, D; Tyrone Garner, G.
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CAROLINA HURRICANES/HARTFORD WHALERS: Sandy McCarthy, RW; Anson Carter, RW; Kevin Weekes, G, Ray Neufeld, RW; Derek Joslin, D; Anthony Stewart, RW.
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Tony McKegney; Dirk Graham, RW; Johnny Oduya, D; Dustin Byfuglien, D; Ray Emery, G; Trevor Daley, D; Jamal Mayers, RW.
COLORADO AVALANCHE/QUEBEC NORDIQUES: Reggie Savage, C; Chris Stewart, RW; Jarome Iginla; Tony McKegney; Greg Mauldin, C; Bernie Saunders, LW; Peter Worrell, LW; Shawn Belle, D; Andreas Martinsen, LW.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Fred Brathwaite, Anson Carter, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Seth Jones, D; Greg Mauldin.
DALLAS STARS/MINNESOTA NORTH STARS: Johnny Oduya, Chris Stewart, Trevor Daley, D; Gemel Smith, C; Maxime Fortunus, D.
DETROIT RED WINGS: Tony McKegney, Nathan Robinson, Brian Johnson, RW.
EDMONTON OILERS: Anson Carter,Grant Fuhr, Fred Brathwaite, Sean Brown, Mike Grier, Georges Laraque; Joaquin Gage, G; Theo Peckham, D; Shawn Belle ; Mark Fraser D, Mike; Darnell Nurse, D; Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, G.
FLORIDA PANTHERS: Kevin Weekes, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, Peter Worrell, Anthony Stewart, Craig Martin, Kenndal McArdle, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick.
LOS ANGELES KINGS: Grant Fuhr, Jarome Iginla, Anson Carter Mike Marson, LW; Wayne Simmonds, RW; Nathan LaFayette, C.
MINNESOTA WILD: Chris Stewart, Joel Ward, Shawn Belle; Robbie Earl, LW.
MONTREAL CANADIENS: Georges Laraque, Shawn Belle, Andreas Martinsen P.K Subban, D; Donald Brashear, D; Devante Smith-Pelly, RW; Steven Fletcher, LW/D; Francis Bouillon, D; Nigel Dawes, LW.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Seth Jones, Francis Bouillon, P.K. Subban; Joel Ward, RW.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Devante Smith-Pelly, Kevin Weekes, Sean Brown, Mark Fraser, Johnny Oduya; Bryce Salvador, D; Claude Vilgrain, RW.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Josh Ho-Sang, Kyle Okposo, Kevin Weekes, Graeme Townshend, Christopher Gibson, Justin Johnson, Greg Mauldin.
NEW YORK RANGERS: Anthony Duclair, Sandy McCarthy, Nathan LaFayette, Donald Brashear, Nigel Dawes, Anson Carter, Kevin Weekes, Andre Deveaux, Jason Doig, Emerson Etem, Tony McKegney, Rumun Ndur.
Ottawa Senators: Ray Emery, Graeme Townshend.
PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Wayne Simmonds, Ray Emery, Claude Vilgrain, Donald Brashear, Sandy McCarthy; Pierre Edouard-Bellemare, LW.
Left to right: Philadelphia Flyers forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Wayne Simmonds with Willie O’Ree and former Flyer goalie Ray Emery (Photo/Philadelphia Flyers).
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Trevor Daley, Georges Laraque, Jarome Iginla, Darren Lowe, RW.
ST. LOUIS BLUES: Ryan Reaves, Grant Fuhr, Chris Stewart, Jamal Mayers, Fred Brathwaite, Nathan LaFayette, Tony McKegney, Bryce Salvador; Ryan Reaves, RW; Chris Beckford-Tseu, G.
SAN JOSE SHARKS: Joel Ward, Mike Grier, Derek Joslin, Jamal Mayers, Mike McHugh, LW; Dale Craigwell, C.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: J.T. Brown, Kevin Weekes, Mike Grier; RW; Gerald Coleman, G.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Mark Fraser, Grant Fuhr, Val James, Robbie Earl, John Craighead, RW; Andre Deveaux, C.
VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Anson Carter, Donald Brashear, Nathan LaFayette, Emerson Etem, Derek Joslin, Claude Vilgrain, Kevin Weekes, Jordan Subban, D; Darren Archibald, RW.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Reaves, Malcolm Subban, Keegan Kolesar.
WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Mike Marson, Bill Riley, Reggie Savage, Anson Carter, Donald Brashear, Jason Doig, Joel Ward.
WINNIPEG JETS/ATLANTA THRASHERS: Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Johnny Oduya, Rumun Ndur, Nigel Dawes, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Anthony Stewart.
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