Sunday, 22 December 2013


                                 BLACK                SOCIAL             HISTORY                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Black history in North American ice hockey has roots dating back to the late 19th century. The first black ice hockey star was Herb Carnegie during the Great Depression. Willie O'Ree broke the NHL’s black color barrier with the Boston Bruins.

Coloured Hockey League

The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes began in 1895, as an initiative of black Baptist churches in Nova Scotia The aim was to increase and retain male membership. The league consisted of teams from Halifax, Africville, Hammond's Plains, Dartmouth, Truro, Amherst and Charlottetown, P.E.I.[2] All games were on an invitational basis with the trophy still residing in a private home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Historically, they were the first league to allow the goaltender to drop to the ice to stop the puck.


Ontario was geographically large, and it was impossible in the early 20th century to organize an all-black league like in Nova Scotia. Some of the early black players in Ontario hockey history included Hipple Galloway and Fred Kelly. Galloway played as a member of the Woodstock team in the Central Ontario Hockey Association in 1899.  In 1916, Fred (Bud) Kelly of London played for the 118 Battalion team of the Ontario Hockey League. Apparently, Kelly was scouted by the Toronto St. Pats, but was never officially contacted. One of the first all-black teams in Ontario was the Orioles. The team was from St. Catharines and played in the Niagara District Hockey League during the 1930's.
Herb Carnegie’s hockey career began in 1938 with the Toronto Young Rangers and continued in the early 1940's with the Buffalo Ankerites, a team in a mines league that played in mining towns in northern Ontario and Quebec. While with the Ankerites, Carnegie was part of the Black Aces line. The other line members consisted of his brother, Ossie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre, originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick. They were recognized as much for their talent and skill as their skin colour (Herb was at centre, Ossie was right wing, McIntyre was the left wing). In the semi-professional Quebec Provincial League, Herb was named most valuable player in 1946, 1947 and 1948.
In 1948, Carnegie was given a tryout with the New York Rangers and offered a contract to play in the Rangers' minor league system. However, he was offered less money than he was earning in the Quebec league and turned down all three offers made by the Rangers organization during his tryout.


  • Alton White played for the New York Raiders, Los Angeles Sharks, Michigan Stags, and Baltimore Blades of the (WHA). White is best known for being the second player of African descent, after Willie O'Ree, to have played on a professional major league ice hockey team In addition, White is the first hockey player of African descent to score 20 goals in a single season. He did this for the Los Angeles Sharks during the 1972–73 season. During the same 72–73 season, he became the first black player in history to score a hat-trick in a major league professional game.
  • Tony McKegney was raised by a white family in Sarnia, Ontario. At age twenty, Tony McKegney signed a contract with the now defunct World Hockey Association’s (WHA) team in Birmingham, just to see the owner illegally renege on the deal after fans threatened to boycott the team for having added a black player to its roster. In the NHL, McKegney would go on to score over 300 career goals, including 40 in the 1987–88 season. His total of 78 points in the same season would remain the highest ever recorded by a black player until Jarome Iginla broke the record in 2001–02.


Willie O'Ree

O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" due to breaking the black colour barrier in the sport.[NB 1] He was called up to the Boston Bruins of the NHL to replace an injured player. He made his NHL debut with the Bruins on January 18 of the 1957–58 NHL season, against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black player in league history. O'Ree is still heavily involved with the NHL, in promoting the league's Diversity Program all over North America with amateur youth and adult hockey players.[8]

Michael Marson

Marson played five seasons in the National Hockey League for the Washington Capitals and the Los Angeles Kings. He was drafted in the 2nd Round, 19th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft and would become the second Black Canadian to play in the NHL. Mike Marson and Bill Riley (the third black player in the NHL) became the first two black players to play in an NHL game together. The two played with the Washington Capitals.

Jay Sharrers

On April 3, 2001, Jay Sharrers made NHL history as the first black referee to officiate an NHL game. He worked his first game as an NHL ref when the Philadelphia Flyers faced the visiting Florida Panthers.


  • Mike Grier was born in Detroit, Michigan and made his NHL debut with the Edmonton Oilers. With the 1996–97 season, Grier became the NHL's first African American player born and trained in the United States.
  • Grant Fuhr was the first black goalie in the NHL and the first black player to win the Stanley Cup. When his career was over, he was the first black player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Jarome Iginla is a five-time NHL All-Star, who is also the Flames' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played. At the start of the 2003–04 season, he was named the Flames captain. This made Iginla the first Black Canadian captain in NHL history. In 2002 he became the first black man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
  • At the start of the 2006–07 season, Swedish player Johnny Oduya, whose father was a Luo from Kenya, made his NHL debut with the New Jersey Devils, becoming the first European-trained player of black African descent to play in the NHL.
  • P.K. Subban, whose father immigrated to Toronto, Canada from Jamaica, plays for the Montreal Canadiens, and in 2013 became the first black player to win the Norris trophy, awarded annually to the NHL's top defense man.


  • On May 11, 2003, Anson Carter scored on Mikael Tellqvist of Sweden to lead Canada to the gold medal at the 2003 IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championships.
  • In 2008, Angela James became the first black woman inducted in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. She also scored 11 goals during the 1990 Women’s World Hockey Championships tournament, a record that still stands today. James has won four world championship gold medals, two 3 Nations Cup gold medals and one IIHF Pacific Rim Championship gold medal with Canada’s National Women’s Team.

Women’s hockey

Angela James played in the Central Ontario Women's Hockey League, precursor to the National Women's Hockey League and Canadian Women's Hockey League. She represented Team Canada internationally. She scored 34 points (22g, 12a) in 20 games over four women's world championships, including 11 goals in five games in the inaugural IIHF World Women's Championships, held in Ottawa in 1990. In 2008, she, along with Cammi Granato (USA) and Geraldine Heaney (CAN), became the first women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hockey Hall of Fame. James is the daughter of a black father and white mother; she is the only Black Canadian to captain a national hockey team.