The NHL and hockey claim to be a global game. Since the participation of NHL stars in the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998, the National Hockey League has made great strides to give credence to their words. The NHL has participated in preseason and regular season games in Europe and winners of the Stanley Cup are allowed to take the trophy for the day back to their home town and country to be shared with distant communities all over the world. These activities have helped expose hockey and the NHL to places that were previously unfamiliar with the sport.
It was not to long ago that the NHL and hockey were seen as strictly a Canadian game played by white Canadians. It slowly grew to include Americans and players from Europe, but now the NHL is full of players who have entered its ranks from non-traditional hockey markets and the number of countries boasting ice hockey federations include predominately desert nations with no natural ice surfaces.
With all this expansion, hockey still has remained an almost exclusively white sport. That impression is quickly disappearing with black hockey players excelling in the NHL in every position. This is a credit to NHL programs like "Hockey is for Everyone" and the National Hockey League Players Association's "Goals and Dreams" program which help to support deserving children with the opportunity play hockey.
The NHL has not always been this accepting to black hockey players and it is unfortunate that many past and present players have had to face bigoted attitudes in their efforts to participate in this great game. Through the efforts of great pioneers like Willie O'Ree, hockey's version of Jackie Robinson, young black hockey players like Nashville's promising sophomore defenceman Seth Jones, has entered a sport and league that is much more accepting and welcoming to black hockey players.
With more and more black kids being exposed to hockey and seeing players like Seth Jones drafted in the first round and finding success, there is no doubt that black hockey players is not a passing fad, but a sign that hockey is truly a global, multicultural, multi-ethnic and becoming a multi-racial game.
The following is the list of the top 10 black hockey players in NHL history.
10 George Laraque
9 Ray Emery
8 Wayne Simmonds
7 Evander Kane
6 Anson Carter
5 Mike Grier
4 Dustin Byfuglien
3 P.K. Subban
2 Grant Fuhr
1 Jarome Iginla
Being traded for one of the league's best players while still in Junior hockey can raise expectations beyond a player's capabilities. While starring in the WHL for the Kamloops Blazers, Ignila was traded by the Dallas Stars to the Calgary Flames for Joe Nieuwendyk. Nieuwendyk and the Stars would win the Stanley Cup a few short years later, but Iginla would put the Flames on his back and carry the team for the next 14 years. His storybook career is still working out its final chapters, but thus far Iginla has accumulated an Art Ross Trophy as the leagues top point producer, two Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophies as the top goal scorer, two Olympic Gold Medals, a gold at the World Junior Championships, the World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey.
Noted for being one of the best conditioned athletes in the entire league, Iginla has represented hockey with class throughout his career. Playing the game tough, but fair, never shying away from a fight, but never looking for one either. He has been the model of consistency playing in over 1,300 games, scoring close to 600 goals and over 1,200 points, with the numbers still increasing. At 37 years of age, Iginla is showing little sign of slowing down as he is currently leading his latest team, the Colorado Avalanche, in points and goals.
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