The All-Time Black Hockey Team
Recently, we at Gunaxin wrote a piece about an All-American white guy basketball team. The tone of the piece was humorous in nature, although some thought that such a topic was racist. For the record, I do not agree that the article was racist. Simply discussing race, doesn’t make something racist. Nor do I agree with what I will call “leaps of logic” in the argument. However, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I admire anyone sticking up for their beliefs. Having an intelligent discussion on a topic is always welcome.
Another of the responses to the article was to have an all black hockey team. The connections seemed obvious, as blacks (Note that the term blacks is used opposed to African-Americans due to the fact many of the players are not American) are a minority in the sport of hockey, just as whites have become a minority in basketball. Still, the comparison isn’t a strong one.
Whites were once dominant in basketball. Mainly due to segregation and racism, but the league and the Basketball Hall of Fame are littered with former white players. Even today, it’s certainly no obstacle for a white player to play basketball and attempt to make the NBA. The number of white players may have dwindled, but the option was all open to them.
It’s not the same for black players and hockey. They’ve always been a minority and have struggled against prejudices over the years to break through into the NHL. Admittedly, there aren’t many black players who try and play hockey. And that’s a major reason why the numbers are so low. Reasons for this include the demographics of the countries where hockey is played and the financial costs of playing hockey, even at a young age. Nevertheless, black hockey players are increasing in numbers and becoming more and more successful. To celebrate this accomplishment, we’ve decided to name the All-Time Black Hockey Team.
Jarome Iginla -full name Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla, at the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, the Dallas Stars made him the 11th player chosen in the first round. The Stars subsequently traded him to the Flames to acquire Joe Nieuwendyk. During his rookie season, 1996-97, he scored 21 goals and 50 points, finishing as the runner-up to Bryan Berard for the Calder Trophy. His career highlight came during the incredible 2001-02 season, where he captured many individual awards, including the Art Ross Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Maurice Richard Trophy after scoring 52 goals and adding 44 assists for 96 points during the regular season. He also won Olympic gold as a member of Team Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics. The next season, Iginla again tied for the league lead in goals, splitting the the Maurice Richard Trophy with two others. He would lead Calgary to the Stanley Cup finals and was awarded the King Clancy Memorial trophy at the year end awards ceremony.
In addition to the NHL, Iginla has gained much admiration based on his strong play for Canada on the international stage. He was instrumental in the Canadian gold medal victory at the 1996 World Junior Championships. And in addition to 2002, he represeted Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
To date, Iginla has scored 384 goals coupled with 399 assists. He has also been named first team All-NHL twice.
Anson Carter - Carter was one of the last players drafted in 1992 by the Quebec Nordiques, but after four years at Michigan State, he was traded to the Washington Capitals and made his NHL debut during the 1996-1997 season. He was subsequently dealt to the Boston Bruins where he developed into a bona fide scorer. Big and strong, with soft hands around the net, Carter averaged 20 goals a season with the Bruins. After holding out in 2000, Boston traded Carter to the Edmonton Oilers, where Anson reached star status and nearly made Canada’s 2002 Olympic roster. The Oilers eventually sent Carter to the New York Rangers, and in 2003-04 the Rangers dealt him back to the Washington, who quickly sent him to the Los Angeles Kings just prior to the trading deadline. Carter would also play with the Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Carter played 674 NHL games, scoring 202 goals and garnering 219 assists. He also had experienced considerable success internationally for Team Canada, winning gold at the World Juniors in 1994 and at the World Championships in 1997 and 2003, including scoring the gold-winning goal in overtime in 2003. Off the ice, Carter is the founder of Big Up Entertainment, a record label specializing in hip hop music.
Tony McKegney – McKegney was a winger and gifted scorer who could produce on the power play and kill penalties. He registered eight 20-goal seasons in a career that lasted over 900 games with seven different clubs. He was chosen 32nd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1978, debuting during the next season with the club. In his sophomore campaign, McKegney scored 23 goals and recorded an excellent +40 plus/minus rating. In his third year, he exploded for 37 goals. In 1983 he was dealt to the Quebec Nordiques, which in turn dealt him in 1984 to the Minnesota North Stars, who ended up trading him to the New York Rangers early in the 1986-87 season.
McKegney set a career high with 40 goals after joining the St. Louis Blues prior to the 1987-88 season. He would play briefly with the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Black Hawks, as well as a second tour duty with the Nordiques before retiring. He scored 320 goals in his career over the course of thirteen NHL seasons.
Mike Grier – Grier was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 1993, and proceed to attend Boston University in the fall. Grier played 114 games for the Terriers and was instrumental in leading them to the NCAA championship in 1995. In his BU career Grier registered 59 goals and 61 assists, was a Hobey Baker Award finalist, was named to the NCAA East First-All America Team and the Hockey East First All-Star Team, and won the Gridiron Club of Boston’s Walter Brown Award as the top American-born player in New England. Grier was also a member of Team USA at the 1995 World Junior Championships.
In 1995 the Edmonton Oilers acquired Grier from the St. Louis Blues. In Edmonton he would make his professional debut during the 1996-97 season and lead all Oiler rookies in scoring. Grier played six seasons with the Oilers before he was traded to the Washington Capitals prior to the 2002-03 season. He was subsequently dealt the next season to the Buffalo Sabres at the trading deadline. Afterwards, he would again play for Team USA at the 2004 World Championships. Following his stint with the Sabres, Grier was signed in the summer of 2006 by the San Jose Sharks as a free agent.
Grier has played 870 career games and has scored 331 points, including 139 goals.
Sandy McCarthy – the Calgary Flames took McCarthy 52nd overall in 1991 NHL Draft out of QMJHL’s Laval Titan. McCarthy returned for one more year of junior following the draft, where he was a dominant power forward with 39 goals and 326 penalty minutes. Starting in 1993-1994 he debuted in the NHL, as Calgary’s chief enforcer, a role he held for five seasons. In addition to dropping his gloves, McCarthy was an effective forechecker and a solid defensive player. The Flames traded him in 1998 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. He would also play for the Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, and Boston Bruins in his career. McCarthy would play 736 games total in his NHL career.
Dirk Graham- Admittedly only one quarter African-Canadian, Graham is believed to have been the first player of African descent to become captain of an NHL team when he was named captain of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1989. A diligent checker, team leader and under-rated goal scorer, Graham spent parts of a dozen NHL seasons with the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks in the 1980s and 1990s. He was honored in 1991 as the Frank J. Selke Trophy winner for outstanding defensive play by a forward. Graham scored at least 20 goals four times, helped Chicago reach the Stanley Cup final in 1992, and served as the Chicago’s captain from 1989 to 1995.
Graham breifly served as head coach of the Blackhawks during the 1998-’99 season before being replaced by Lorne Molleken.
Jamal Mayers- A solid defensive forward, Mayers has spent the bulk of his career with the St. Louis Blues, but currently plays for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He has played over 600 games in the NHL, starting in 1996-1997 season. Mayers has represented Canada at the 2000, 2007 and 2008 World Championships.
Ray Neufield- Neufield was primarily a right winger who debuted in 1979 for the Hartford Whalers. He was able to use his size and scoring ability to to record four 20-goal seasons. In total, he played in 595 career games, scoring 157 goals in route to 357 career points.
Donald Brashear- This big bruiser is starting to close in on 1000 career games, a mark he should reach sometime in 2009. Brashear has played for several teams in his career, and is currently with the Washington Capitals. He has racked up nearly 2500 penalty minutes his career. However, despite his tough guy image, he is an accomplished concert pianist.
Kyle Okposo- picked seventh overall in the 2006 Draft by the New York Islanders, Okposo is consider one of the best prospects in hockey. He played 9 game last season, and is a dark-horse candidate for rookie of the year this season. The natural winger has a bright goal scoring future ahead.
Willie O’Ree- O’Ree, is the Jackie Robinson of hockey, becoming the first black player in the NHL. He debuted on January 18, 1958 for the Boston Bruins. At the time he was 95% blind in one eye. He only played 45 games in his NHL career, but paved the way for many yet to come. After O’Ree it took 16 years for the next black player to play in the NHL.
George Laraque- Laraque has played over 600 games in the NHL, mostly for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s garnered the nickname “Big George”, and his role has primarily been as an enforcer. In 2003, he was unanimously awarded the Best Fighter award from The Hockey News. Sports Illustrated dubbed him the number one enforcer in 2008. He currently plays for the Montreal Canadiens.
Trevor Daley – The 25 year old was drafted in the second round, 43rd overall, by the Dallas Stars in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. Daley is a graduate of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. A strong skating offensive defenceman, Daley played four seasons in the OHL tallying 188 points (59-129-188) before making his professional debut in 2003-04. After honing his skills in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs, Daley became a regular in the Dalls Stars line-up throughout the 2005-06 season appearing in 81 games. Daley has continued to help anchor the blue line for Dallas the last several seasons. He is nearing 300 career NHL games, and has already tallied 61 points. At twenty-five, his best years are head of him.
Daley also represented Team Canada for the 2006 World Championships.
Bryce Salvador – Salvador was selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1994 NHL Draft, a graduate of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. A stay-at-home defenceman, Salvador spent five years in Lethbridge, helping his squad reach the Memorial Cup final in 1997. During which time he became a free agent and signed with the St. Louis Blues. Salvador would make his professional debut with the AHL’s Worcester IceCats in the fall of 1997. He played three seasons in Worcester before making his NHL debut in 2000-01. Upon reaching the NHL Salvador, became a key component for the Blues, blocking shots and playing a strong defensive game. In February of 2008, Salvador was traded to the New Jersey Devils, and decided to re-up with the Devils in the offseason to the tune of a four-year deal worth $11.6 million. To date, he has played 469 career games.
Francis Bouillon- A bit undersized for hockey at just 5’9″, Bouillon is known for a physical game and providing much needed grit on defense. He has spent his entire career with the Montreal Canadiens, save for a four game sojourn with the Nashville Predators. He has scored 95 points in over 440 career games from the blue line. Bouillon represented the United States at the 2003 World Championships
Sean Brown- A first round pick of the Boston Bruins, Brown was traded to the Edmonton Oilers prior to his NHL debut. The backliner plays a simple yet hard-hitting game. Brown has 436 career games, mostly for the Oilers, in the NHL and currently plays for EC KAC in the Austrian Hockey League.
Dustin Byfuglien- drafted by the Blackhawks as a defensemen, Byfuglien has appeared both as a forward and defensemen in the NHL. He’s either a hulking defenseman with offensive skills, or a big body to place in front of the net as a forward. For this team, Byfuglien will be utilized on defense. Only 23, he has played 115 games in the NHL, scoring 24 goals and 49 points.
Jason Doig - the Montreal native debuted in the 1996-1996 season with the Winnipeg Jets en route to 158 career games over the course of seven seasons. Doig played the most games of his career as a member of the Washington Capitals. He was also a member of Team Canada when it won the gold medal at the 1997 World Junior Championships.
Grant Fuhr- Fuhr was drafted 8th overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1981 NHL Draft. He would play with the Oilers for ten seasons, where he won five Stanley Cups as part of the Oilers dynasty. He was the team’s starting goaltender on the first four Cup winners, but was injured and did not play when the Oilers won for the fifth time. During his tenure with the Oilers, Fuhr won the Vezina Trophy in 1988. In 1991, Fuhr was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and he would go on to play for the Buffalo Sabres (where he won the William M. Jennings Trophy with Dominik HaÅ¡ek in 1994) , Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames before retiring in 2000. Through his nineteen season NHL career, he played 868 games, winning 403, losing 295 and tying 114. He earned 25 shutouts and concluded his career with a 3.38 goals against average. In post-season play, Fuhr participated in 150 games, winning 92 (including 6 by shutout) and losing 50. His playoff goals against average improved to 2.92. On October 9, 2003, the Edmonton Oilers retired Fuhr’s number 31. And in 2003, in his first year of eligibility, Fuhr was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame, becoming the first first black person inducted into the hall.
Kevin Weekes- Weekes has bounced around the league as a starter and back-up for various teams. He played a career-high 61 games for the the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2000-2001, and was a key member of the Carolina Hurricanes in their their drive to the Stanley Cup finals in 2002. He would start for Carolina for the ensuing two seasons. After the 2004-2005 lockout, he signed with New York to be their starter, but was displaced by rookie phenom Henrik Lundqvist. Weekes currently plays for the New Jersey Devils, where he is the de facto start with Martin Brodeur out 3-4 months.