Of the four major North American sports, hockey has long been considered the whitest. It’s not an unfair assumption. Although the NHL’s color barrier was broken by Willie O’Ree way back in the 1950s, black players only began making waves in the league in the ’80s and ’90s. Even then, stars like Hall of Famer Grant Fuhr and still-active Jarome Iginla were few and far between. They’ve also — like the rest of the players in the league — been overwhelmingly Canadian.
Canada is a young nation of immigrants (all of whom eventually become obsessed with hockey, the unofficial national religion), and Canada’s black population has largely Caribbean roots, which has led to an increasing number of high-profile players of Caribbean heritage in recent years. This list is by no means exhaustive, and includes up-and-coming prospects alongside established stars, but it covers NHLers who self-identify with a wide range of Caribbean nations. They’re part of a growing demographic in the sport, as the face of Canada — and its national obsession — continues to change.
10. Anthony Duclair (Haiti) / Teams Played For: New York Rangers
Duclair hasn’t made much of an impact in the NHL yet, but the Haitian-Canadian was an all-star in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League prior to being drafted n 2013 and led the Rangers in points during the 2014-15 NHL preseason.
9. Kenndal McArdle (Trinidad) / Teams Played For: Florida Panthers, Winnipeg Jets
Now working as a banker, Kenndal McArdle bounced around the NHL and the minor leagues throughout his short career, but he’s one of the few Trinidadian players to make the big leagues, so he’s worthy of notice here.
8/7. Anthony Stewart/Chris Stewart (Jamaica) / Teams Played For (Anthony): Florida Panthers, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes/ (Chris) St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche
The Jamaican-Canadian Stewart brothers have bounced around the league a little, but they come with a solid pedigree. Both have represented Canada internationally, with older brother Anthony picking up medals in U18 and World Junior competition, as well as two consecutive victories in the Canada-Russia challenge. Chris is still in the NHL and was involved in the Buffalo Sabres’ 2013 Ryan Miller trade, while Anthony is currently in eastern Europe playing for the Kontinental Hockey League’s Medvešcak Zagreb.
6. Josh Ho-Sang (Jamaica) / Teams Played For: New York Islanders
The most controversial prospect of the 2014 draft, Ho-Sang’s NHL career has just begun, but he’s already notorious. Drafted by the Islanders in the first round, Ho-Sang was considered far from a safe bet due to questionable ‘off-ice’ issues and personality conflicts. His Jamaican bonafides are helped by his father and uncle’s roles in seminal 90s Canadian reggae act Fujahtive.
5. Joel Ward (Barbados) / Teams Played For: Washington Capitals, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators
Ward, of Barbadian heritage, is one of the best-known active Caribbean-Canadian NHL players. His overtime goal in a 2012 playoff series — which resulted in the elimination of then-defending champion Boston Bruins — was met with a barrage of racist comments online from Boston hockey fans, reopening the debate about racism in hockey. Ward has represented Canada in the World Championships.
4. Kevin Weekes (Barbados) / Teams Played For: Florida Panthers, Vancouver Canucks, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils
Currently a color commentator for Hockey Night in Canada (and the first black commentator in hockey broadcasting history), goalie Kevin Weekes won a Stanley Cup in 2002 with the Carolina Hurricanes and played for a total of seven NHL teams in his 14-year career. (And he was once ran over by a Zamboni).
3. Anson Carter (Barbados) / Teams Played For: Almost all of them
The most visibly “Caribbean” player in NHL history, Carter’s long dreadlocks were instantly-recognizable amid the sea of mullets on ice. He’s best known for scoring the winning goal for Canada in the 2003 World Championships, but his 12-year career took him throughout the NHL, suiting up for the Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Vancouver Canucks, Columbus Blue Jackets. Carter later moved to Altanta and started a rap label, Big Up Entertainment.
2. Georges Laraque (Haiti) / Teams Played For: Edmonton Oilers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Phoenix Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens
One of the most-feared enforcers of his era (Check his fight reel here), Laraque, who attained over 1,000 penalty minutes in his NHL career, has now moved on to a more peaceful retirement. An outspoken vegan and environmental activist, Laraque was deputy leader of Canada’s Green Party, co-owns a couple of vegan restaurants and has written a successful autobiography.
1. PK Subban (Jamaica/Monserrat) Teams Played For: Montreal Canadiens
Not only the most notable Caribbean player to ever lace up a pair of skates, Subban is one of the most notable players of any ethnicity in the NHL today. A Norris Trophy-winner, Olympic gold medalist and all-star in both the NHL and AHL, Subban is also one of the highest-paid players in the league and an alternate captain of hockey’s most storied franchise, the Montreal Canadiens.
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