From Olympic Press Box, Chronicling the Changing Color of Hockey

From Olympic Press Box, Chronicling the Changing Color of Hockey

How has the game become more diverse, and where does it still need to go?

I think the face of hockey is changing for several reasons. In many ways it reflects the changing of North America through the growth of minority populations and immigration. Karl Subban, the father of the Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, likes to tell the story about how he moved with his family from Jamaica to Sudbury, Ontario, as a boy and how hockey helped him assimilate into the Canadian fabric. I think increased affluence also has something to do with it. Minority families are moving out of cities and into suburbs and their kids are playing what their new friends are playing. It may be hockey, or soccer, or lacrosse. As for urban kids whose families who can’t afford hockey, there are a growing number of programs that provide equipment, ice time and instruction at little or no costs. These include programs like Philadelphia’s Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation, New York’s Ice Hockey in Harlem and Washington’s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club. Fort Dupont is the oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program in the United States.


Jordan Greenway is the first African-American to play for the United States men’s hockey team.

Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

Mr. Greenway will make his debut Wednesday. What should we know about him?

Greenway is huge — 6-foot-5, 230 pounds — at 20 years old. He’s a dangerous combination of size, speed and finesse. He earned his way onto the U.S. roster from his performance at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship that was played in Montreal and Toronto. Greenway was consistently one of the best players on the ice. A man among boys is a sports cliché, but with his size and scoring hands, he was indeed a man among boys. He should be in the N.H.L. sometime after he finishes at Boston University. He’s a 2015 second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Wild. He has a younger brother, defenseman J.D. Greenway, who plays for the University of Wisconsin (coached by the U.S. Olympic hockey coach Tony Granato) and was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round of the 2016 N.H.L. Draft.

Who are some other players to watch at the Olympics?

Sarah Nurse, a forward for Canada’s women’s hockey team. A black Canadian, she’s the cousin of Darnell Nurse, a defenseman with the N.H.L.’s Edmonton Oilers, and Kia Nurse, a point guard for the Connecticut women’s basketball team. Sarah Nurse tallied 76 goals and 61 assists in 150 games for the University of Wisconsin and could be one of Canada’s key scoring weapons at the Games.

• Randi Griffin, a forward on Korea’s unified women’s hockey team. Griffin, who is half-Korean, is a North Carolinian who played college hockey at Harvard. Like a couple of other North Americans on the Korean team, she was initially recruited by Korean hockey officials via a blind email. She thought the email was a hoax and ignored it for months.

• Brigette Lacquette, a defenseman for Canada’s women’s team. She’s Cote First Nation and has made it a mission to inspire First Nations/Native American youth with her play.

A lot has been made about N.H.L. players not being at these Games. What do you think?

As a fan, I have mixed feelings about the N.H.L. not being in Pyeongchang. It feels odd not having the best players in the world here. At the same time, the lack of N.H.L. starpower makes the men’s Olympic hockey tournament a wild card that could be full of surprises.

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