Black Hockey History: A timeline
As the NHLPA and NHL celebrate Black History Month, NHLPA.com looks back at the impact of Black players and Black hockey history.
Feature photo: Getty Images
Throughout the month of February, the NHLPA and NHL are proudly celebrating Black History Month as part of the year-round commitment to Hockey Is For Everyone.
This week, NHLPA.com highlights the impact that former and current Black players have had on the sport, sharing the stories of pivotal moments from influential male and female hockey players.
1895-1925: Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes is founded
The Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes is founded in Halifax in 1895 as an all-Black men’s hockey league. During its peak, the league rostered hundreds of players and iced more than 12 teams. The league's players have been credited among the first to use the slapshot and its goalies for dropping to their knees to make save.
January 18, 1958: Willie O'Ree makes NHL debut
Willie O’Ree debuts with the Boston Bruins in a game against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first Black player to play in the NHL. Willie would later be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame 60 years later.
May 31, 1974: Mike Marson is drafted
Mike Marson becomes the first Black player drafted by an NHL team when he is selected 19th overall by the Washington Capitals at the 1974 NHL Amateur Draft.Image:
November 1, 1981: Val James debuts with Sabres
Val James becomes the first American-born Black player in the NHL when he makes his debut with the Buffalo Sabres.
May 19, 1984: Grant Fuhr wins Stanley Cup
Grant Fuhr becomes the first Black player (and first Black goaltender) to win the Stanley Cup after helping the Edmonton Oilers clinch the 1984 title.
January 21, 1989: Dirk Graham earns the "C"
Dirk Graham becomes the first Black player to be named team captain when he was given the “C” with the Chicago Blackhawks.
June 29, 1998: Dirk Graham named head coach
Dirk Graham is named the head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, becoming the first ever Black head coach.
February 24, 2002: Jarome Iginla wins gold
Jarome Iginla is the first Black hockey player to win an Olympic gold medal when Canada defeats the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City.
June 27, 2002: Jarome Iginla earns nod for "most oustanding"
Just over four months after he became the first Black man to win Olympic hockey gold, Iginla is the first Black player to be voted the “most outstanding player” by his fellow players when he received the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award). In the 2001-02 season, Iginla also became the first Black player to win both the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL scoring leader and the Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals.
November 3, 2003: Grant Fuhr inducted into HHOF
Grant Fuhr becomes the first Black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Fuhr won five Stanley Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers between.
June 24, 2006: Stewart brothers become first-round picks
With Chris Stewart being drafted 18th overall by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2006 NHL Draft, Chris and Anthony Stewart (selected 25th overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2003 NHL Draft) become the first pair of Black siblings to both be drafted in the first round of the Draft.
November 8, 2010: Angela James inducted into HHOF
Angela James becomes the first Black woman inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. James won four gold medals with Team Canada at the IIHF Women’s World Championship during her playing career.
June 15, 2013: P.K. Subban wins Norris
P.K. Subban becomes first Black player to win the Norris Trophy as the top defenceman in the NHL.
October 11, 2015: Blake Bolden debuts with NWHL
Blake Bolden becomes the first Black player to compete in the National Women's Hockey League with Boston.
February 14, 2018: Jordan Greenway competes for Team USA
Jordan Greenway becomes the first Black hockey player to compete for Team USA at the Olympics.
February 2020: Blake Bolden hired by LA Kings
Pro player Blake Bolden becomes the first Black female pro scout in the NHL after being hired by the Los Angeles Kings.
October 6, 2020: Quinton Byfield drafted 2nd overall
Quinton Byfield becomes highest drafted Black player in NHL Draft history after being selected 2nd overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2020 NHL Draft.
For more Black Hockey History that every NHL fan should know