In the NHL, black hockey players are few and far between, and while that trend is changing somewhat, for the most part, there simply aren’t enough black hockey players. So, why is that? Hockey is no more expensive than football, and the NCAA still awards scholarships for hockey – as much as it does for football. Perhaps the reason why there aren’t more black hockey players is because they game is predominantly a Canadian one, where there aren’t any scholarships awarded at the university level. Another reason may be because of its lack of popularity as a major sport in the United States. Regardless, there are some fantastic black hockey players in the NHL, and these are the top 5.
Anson Carter of the Bruins, Oilers, Rangers, Canucks, Blue Jackets and Hurricanes
Anson Carter was an original 10th round draft choice of the now defunct Quebec Nordiques in the 1992 NHL draft. After playing at Michigan State, Carter joined the Bruins and enjoyed several successful years in Boston, twice scoring over 20 goals a season and having a high of 47 points. With the Oilers, he had a 2001-2002 season where he scored 28 goals and 32 assists for a total of 60 points. However, Carter’s best season came as a Canuck in 2005 when he scored 33 goals and 22 assists for 55 points. Unfortunately for Carter, he was never respected as much as he should have been, and was often traded from one team to another. However, Carter is easily one of the greatest black hockey players in NHL history.
Mike Grier of the Oilers, Capitals Sabres and Sharks
Mike Grier was an original 9th round draft pick of the St. Louis Blues in the 1993 draft. Much like Carter, Grier bounced around from one team to another. However, he was a solid contributor in his first couple of seasons as an Oiler and twice scored more than 20 goals a season, both in the 1998 and 2000 seasons. A consistent presence as a third line right winger, Grier has always been able to score points during his NHL career. While not spectacular, he is a solid presence on every team he plays for. Of the 987 games Grier has played in the NHL, he’s scored 157 goals with 210 assists for 367 total points.
Dustin Byfuglien of the Chicago Blackhawks
An original 8th round draft choice of the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2003 NHL draft, Dustin Byfuglien doesn’t make this list for his regular season play, although even that is pretty solid, instead, Byfuglien makes this list for being such a dominant presence in the playoffs. Having never scored more than 36 points a season, Byfuglien comes to shine during playoff time, and especially against the Vancouver Canucks where the 6 foot 4 inch and 257 lb forward drives Canuck’s Goalie Roberto Luongo to fits. Byfuglien knows how to get under Luongo’s skin, and by positioning himself in front of the net, he’s accounts for 4 goals and 2 assists for 6 total points in 12 games. Byfuglien is clearly a dominant black NHL playoff player.
P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens
P.K. Subban was a 2nd round pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2007 NHL draft, and has quickly sky-rocketed himself to stardom in the Canadiens improbable 2010 NHL playoff race. Subban is fearless, fantastic with the puck, and shows no signs of being intimidated by the quality of those NHL players he’s currently facing. Subban makes this list for his ability to become such a quality NHL defensemen so quickly, and during the most difficult time of the season, playoff hockey. During 9 games with the Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs, Subban has replaced injured Andrei Markov on the blue line and has allowed the Canadiens to have a solid presence on the power play. Subban has 1 goal and 3 assists in those 9 games and looks to become one of the greatest black hockey players in NHL history.
Jarome Iginla of the Calgary Flames
One of the first ever black NHL captains, and the Flames all time leader in goals scored and total points, Jarome Iginla is a two time gold medal winner, and one of the NHL’s most dangerous snipers. Iginla is a former Art Ross, Maurice Rocket Richard, and Lester B. Pearson trophy winner. He’s a force to reckon with and one of the most dominant wingers in the NHL. Iginla has scored more than 20 goals in 12 of his 13 NHL seasons, and his highest point total came in the 2007-2008 season when he scored 50 goals with 48 assists for 98 total points. Throught 1024 NHL games, Iginla has 441 goals, 479 assists and 920 total points. Iginla is not only the greatest black player in hockey, but the greatest black NHL player ever.