"If you take a group of African-Americans who have never skated before and a group of white kids who haven't skated before and put them on the ice approximately the same percentage of them will skate proficiently right off the bat" --Anonymous
If this is the case then why can you count the number of minorities on 10 hands? It all starts at the youth hockey level. It's about exposure at a young age. Dr. Frome takes his students from the King Charter School to the Riverside Ice Rink which is all the way across the City of Buffalo. So why does the City of Buffalo share two ice pads while the suburbs share 20 ice pads? It's all about the affluence as the wealthy people moved out to the suburbs and got hooked on the sport largely based on your financial status. To fully equip a hockey player can cost upwards of $1,000 or more just until the next time he/she grows out of the equipment. That doesn't even include the fee to play, which for travel can be upwards of $1,000-$2,000 for the ice time, referees, hotel, etc. The sport is skewed towards rich, white parents who want their kids to be just like them.
Hockey was invented in Canada and some say perfected by them and it's reflected in recent results from Olympics and other world events. Yet the United States is on the rise! They are doing so, however, with a majority of white athletes. With the minority becoming the majority in our country why are we not tapping into the wealth of athleticism that these minorities possess in order to better the overall skill of USA Hockey? We are limiting the draw of hockey players to mostly suburbs of major cities, who are white, and have money. This means we are drawing from a very slim percent of the country. While hockey doesn't thrive in all regions of the country, especially the warmer climates, cities like Buffalo which are hockey-enthralled are still failing to tap into the African-American market. Programs such as Hasek's Heroes which is a part of the Hockey is for Everyone initiative by the NHL is allowing children from the City of Buffalo to learn how to skate and play hockey at no cost! With similar programs in Philadelphia (Ed Snider) and all around the country we are SLOWLY starting to expand the opportunities for this group of children which can only benefit USA Hockey. The Tim Hortons Backyard Classic has raised over $30,000 in our five-year existence to help in Hasek's Heroes efforts and rewarding the hard work by the children of Hasek's Heroes by bringing one or two teams of their kids out to play in the tournament every year.
This problem isn't just in USA Hockey though, it carries over to the National Hockey League as well. If I asked you to name 10 white guys who currently play in the NHL it would take me five seconds to answer: Vanek, Pominville, Myers, Crosby, Ovechkin, Miller, Thornton, Kaleta, Ennis, Leopold. Yet if I asked you to name me ten Asian players or even five Asian players I guarantee you wouldn't be able to. The same carries over to African-American hockey players as well. The most prominent one currently is probably Wayne Simmonds who at the beginning of the season was victim of racism when a fan threw a banana onto the ice while he was performing a shoot-out attempt. We are years away from slavery, yet how much progress have we actually made? Minorities have just as much athletic talent and ability if they are given the exposure that everyone else is given, so why not better our game at a national and local level by evening the playing field and giving everyone a fair shake. Look below for current minorities in the NHL.
(AS OF JANUARY 30, 2013)
NHL Players of African Descent or Ancestry Active Players (Only current NHL team or affiliate identified): Akim Aliu, Forward, Calgary Flames Paul Bissonnette, Forward, Phoenix Coyotes Francis Bouillon, Defense, Nashville Predators J.T. Brown, Forward, Tampa Bay Lightning Dustin Byfuglien, Defense, Winnipeg Jets, Member of Stanley Cup Team, Trevor Daley, Defense, Dallas Stars Robbie Earl, Forward, Minnesota Wild Ray Emery, Goaltender, Chicago Blackhawks Maxime Fortunnus, Defense, Dallas Stars Mark Fraser, Defense, Toronto Maple Leafs Jarome Iginla, Forward, Calgary Flames Derek Joslin, Defense, Vancouver Canucks Evander Kane, Forward, Winnipeg Jets Greg Mauldin, Forward, Colorado Avalanche Jamal Mayers, Forward, Chicago Blackhawks Kenndal McArdle, Forward, Winnipeg Jets Johnny Oduya, Defense, Chicago Blackhawks Kyle Okposo, Forward, New York Islanders Theo Peckham, Defense, Edmonton Oilers Ryan Reaves, Forward, St. Louis Blues Bryce Salvador, Defense, New Jersey Devils Wayne Simmonds, Forward, Philadelphia Flyers Devante Smith-Pelly, Forward, Anaheim Ducks Anthony Stewart, Forward, Carolina Hurricanes Chris Stewart, Forward, St. Louis Blues P.K. Subban, Defense, Montreal Canadiens Joel Ward, Forward, Washington Capitals
NHL Players of Aboriginal Descent or Ancestry Active Players (Only current NHL team or affiliate identified): Arron Asham, Forward, Pittsburgh Penguins Rene Bourque, Forward, Montreal Canadiens Kyle Chipchura, Forward, Phoenix Coyotes Jonathan Cheechoo, Forward, St. Louis Blues Vernon Fiddler, Forward, Dallas Stars Chris Kelly, Forward, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins D.J. King, Forward, Washington Capitals Dwight King, Forward, Los Angeles Kings Cody McCormick, Forward, Buffalo Sabres T.J. Oshie, Forward, St. Louis Blues Carey Price, Goaltender, Montreal CanadiensWade Redden, Defense, New York Rangers Sheldon Souray, Defense, Anaheim Ducks Jordin Tootoo, Forward, Nashville Predators
NHL Players of Asian Descent or Ancestry Active Players (Only current NHL team or affiliate identified):Chris Beckford-Tseu, Goaltender, Florida Panthers Manny Malhotra, Forward, Vancouver Canucks Jon Matsumoto, Forward, Florida Panthers Raymond Sawada, Forward, Dallas Stars Devin Setoguchi, Forward, Minnesota Wild Brandon Yip, Forward, Nashville Predators
My name is Nick Penberthy and am the Founder of the Tim Hortons Backyard Classic. Now after 5 years of running the THBYC we have raised over $30,000 for Hasek's Heroes.