Hockey hopes to stop stereotypes

Willie O’Ree is regarded as hockey’s Jackie Robinson. O’Ree broke hockey’s color barrier by becoming the first player of color in the NHL, suiting up for the Boston Bruins in 1958.’

Once he made it to the NHL, O’Ree was unable to replicate the scoring touch he had in the minors. However, O’Ree’s legacy isn’t about statistics – it’s about the doors he opened.

Today, the NHL and the sport of hockey have a growing minority interest because of ambassadors such as O’Ree and programs such as ‘Ice Hockey in Harlem.’

During the past few NHL seasons, there have been 29 black players, seven Aboriginal, seven Asian, three Hispanic, one Inuit and one South Asian.’

The most notable of these players is Calgary Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla, who is of half-Nigerian descent. The Flames forward is the first black captain in NHL history, a five-time all-star and helped Canada win Gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Nashville Predators forward Joel Ward came up in the American Hockey League with the Houston Aeros. Under the guidance of head coach Kevin Constantine, Ward became a more complete player in his three seasons with the Aeros.’

Scott Gomez became the first Hispanic player drafted by a NHL club when the New Jersey Devils selected him with the 27th pick in the first round of the 1998 draft.’

Gomez is also the first Alaska-born player in the NHL. He won the Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie, after notching 19 goals and 51 assists.

The NHL is looking to smash racial stereotypes about the sport.Players such as Iginla serve as great role models to all young players, regardless of color.

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