When a city receives an expansion team, that immediately drives anticipation for a new pro sports presence and interest for an expected intraregional rivalry. It’s a perfect time for the professional sports league to come into town and speak to the city’s audience.
The new NHL Seattle Kraken ice hockey team will begin play in the 2021-2022 season, and regional bragging rights will begin immediately with an immediate regional rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks, not unlike the decades-old soccer rivalry between the Seattle Sounders and the Vancouver Whitecaps (which I first witnessed in the 1970s in the old original NASL).
But the following questions remain timely: For whom is ice hockey? What is the relationship between the sport and people of colour? What is the history of black people in professional hockey? I hope the following sheds a little bit of light on black hockey history.
NHL Black Hockey History Mobile Museum
In early 2020, a travelling museum exhibition highlighted how black Canadians, black Americans, and their respective communities have made important contributions to the winter sport of ice hockey at both amateur and professional levels. Presented in conjunction with the American Legacy Network, the NHL Black Hockey History mobile museum made its way throughout North America, stopping in 14 cities: Washington, DC; Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO; Pittsburgh, PA; Ottawa, ON; Toronto, ON; Newark, NJ; Nashville, TN; Anaheim, CA; Los Angeles, CA; San Jose, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Tempe, AZ.
In a continuation of activities associated with Black History Month, Kim Davis, NHL executive vice president, wrote about what Black History Month meant to her, and what players of colour past and present have meant to the game of hockey (28 Feb 2020).
The mobile museum dropped anchor for its 4-day visit in Seattle in early March, with the first stop at Jimi Hendrix Park next to the city’s Northwest African American Museum.
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