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.
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.
ARIZONA COYOTES/WINNIPEG JETS: Anthony Duclair, LW; Paul Bissonnette, 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.
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.
CAROLINA HURRICANES/HARTFORD WHALERS: Sandy McCarthy, RW; Anson Carter, RW; Kevin Weekes, G, Ray Neufeld, RW; Derek Joslin, D; Anthony Stewart, RW.
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.
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.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Seth Jones, Francis Bouillon, P.K. Subban; Joel Ward, RW.
Ottawa Senators: Ray Emery, Graeme Townshend.
WINNIPEG JETS/ATLANTA THRASHERS: Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Johnny Oduya, Rumun Ndur, Nigel Dawes, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Anthony Stewart.
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