The history of black players in North American ice hockey has roots dating back to the late 19th century. The first black ice hockey star was Herb Carnegie during the Great Depression. Willie O'Ree broke the NHL's black color barrier with the Boston Bruins.[NB 1]
Coloured Hockey League
The Coloured Hockey League of the Maritimes began in 1895, as an initiative of black Baptist churches in Nova Scotia. The aim was to increase and retain male membership. The league consisted of teams from Halifax, Africville, Hammond's Plains, Dartmouth, Truro, Amherst and Charlottetown, P.E.I. All games were on an invitational basis with the trophy still residing in a private home in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Historically, they were the first league to allow the goaltender to drop to the ice to stop the puck.
Ontario was geographically large, and it was impossible in the early 20th century to organize an all-black league like in Nova Scotia. Some of the early black players in Ontario hockey history included Hipple Galloway and Fred Kelly. Galloway played as a member of the Woodstock team in the Central Ontario Hockey Association in 1899.  In 1916, Fred (Bud) Kelly of London played for the 118 Battalion team of the Ontario Hockey League. Apparently, Kelly was scouted by the Toronto St. Pats, but was never officially contacted. One of the first all-black teams in Ontario was the Orioles. The team was from St. Catharines and played in the Niagara District Hockey League during the 1930s.
Herb Carnegie's hockey career began in 1938 with the Toronto Young Rangers and continued in the early 1940s with the Buffalo Ankerites, a team in a mines league that played in mining towns in northern Ontario and Quebec. While with the Ankerites, Carnegie was part of the Black Aces line. The other line members consisted of his brother, Ossie Carnegie and Manny McIntyre, originally from Fredericton, New Brunswick. They were recognized as much for their talent and skill as their skin colour (Herb was at centre, Ossie was right wing, McIntyre was the left wing). In the semi-professional Quebec Provincial League, Herb was named most valuable player in 1946, 1947 and 1948.
In 1948, Carnegie was given a tryout with the New York Rangers and offered a contract to play in the Rangers' minor league system. However, he was offered less money than he was earning in the Quebec league and turned down all three offers made by the Rangers organization during his tryout.
- Alton White played for the New York Raiders, Los Angeles Sharks, Michigan Stags, and Baltimore Blades of the (WHA). White is best known for being the second player of African descent, after Willie O'Ree, to have played on a professional major league ice hockey team In addition, White is the first hockey player of African descent to score 20 goals in a single season. He did this for the Los Angeles Sharks during the 1972-73 season. During the same 72-73 season, he became the first black player in history to score a hat-trick in a major league professional game.
- Tony McKegney was raised by a white family in Sarnia, Ontario. At age twenty, Tony McKegney signed a contract with the WHA's Birmingham Bulls, only to see the owner illegally renege on the deal after fans threatened to boycott the team for having added a black player to its roster. In the NHL, McKegney would go on to score over 300 career goals, including 40 in the 1987-88 season. His total of 78 points in the same season would remain the highest ever recorded by a black player until Jarome Iginla broke the record in 2001-02.
Breaking the colour barrier
Willie O'Ree is referred to as the "Jackie Robinson of ice hockey" due to breaking the black colour barrier in the sport.[NB 1] He was called up to the Boston Bruins of the NHL to replace an injured player. He made his NHL debut with the Bruins on January 18 of the 1957-58 NHL season, against the Montreal Canadiens, becoming the first black player in league history. O'Ree is still heavily involved with the NHL, in promoting the league's Diversity Program all over North America with amateur youth and adult hockey players.
Mike Marson played five seasons in the National Hockey League for the Washington Capitals and the Los Angeles Kings. He was drafted in the 2nd Round, 19th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, making him the first black player to be drafted in an NHL Entry Draft (first introduced in 1963). He became the second Black Canadian to play in the NHL. Mike Marson and Bill Riley (the third black player in the NHL) became the first two black players to play in an NHL game together. They both played for the Capitals.
- Grant Fuhr is a Black Canadian goaltender. Making his NHL debut in the 1981-82 season, he was the first black goalie in the NHL, and later became the first black player to win the Stanley Cup in 1984. Shortly after his retirement, in 2003, he became the first black player to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
- Val James is an African American defenceman. He was the first American-born African American to play in the NHL, debuting with the Buffalo Sabres during the 1981-82 season. However, James was not the first African American player to be trained exclusively in the United States, as he played in the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League.
- Dirk Graham is a Black Canadian right winger. He was the first black player to be named team captain, captaining the Chicago Blackhawks from 1989 to 1995. Graham was also the first black head coach, coaching the Blackhawks during the 1998-99 season.
- Mike Grier is an African American right winger. Born in Detroit, Michigan, He became the first African American player born and trained in the United States to play in the NHL, after making his NHL debut during the 1996-97 season.
- Jarome Iginla is a Black Canadian right winger. He is the Calgary Flames' all-time leader in goals, points, and games played. As a member of the Canadian men's national hockey team in the 2002 Winter Olympics, he became the first black man to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics.
- Johnny Oduya is an African Swedish defenceman, whose father was a Luo from Kenya. He became the first European-trained player of African descent to play in the NHL, after making his NHL debut during the 2006-07 season.
- P. K. Subban is a Black Canadian defenceman, whose father immigrated to Canada from Jamaica. He was the first black player to win the award for the League's best defenceman, the James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2013.
- Wayne Simmonds is a Black Canadian right winger. He was the first black player to be awarded the NHL All-Star Game MVP in 2017 NHL All-Stars.
On April 3, 2001, Jay Sharrers made NHL history as the first black referee to officiate an NHL game. He worked his first game as an NHL ref when the Philadelphia Flyers faced the visiting Florida Panthers.
- On May 11, 2003, Anson Carter scored on Mikael Tellqvist of Sweden to lead Canada to the gold medal at the 2003 IIHF Men's World Hockey Championships.
- In 2008, Angela James became the first black woman inducted in the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame. She also scored 11 goals during the 1990 Women's World Hockey Championships tournament, a record that still stands today. James has won four world championship gold medals, two 3 Nations Cup gold medals and one IIHF Pacific Rim Championship gold medal with Canada's National Women's Team.
Angela James played in the Central Ontario Women's Hockey League, precursor to the National Women's Hockey League and Canadian Women's Hockey League. She represented Team Canada internationally. She scored 34 points (22g, 12a) in 20 games over four women's world championships, including 11 goals in five games in the inaugural IIHF World Women's Championships, held in Ottawa in 1990. In 2008, she, along with Cammi Granato (USA) and Geraldine Heaney (CAN), became the first women to be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hockey Hall of Fame. James is the daughter of a black father and white mother; she is the only Black Canadian to captain a national hockey team.
These are the top-ten point, goal, and assist scorers in any franchise history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; G/G = Goals per game; A/G = Assists per game; * = Active player; Bold = Currently Playing
These are the top-ten point, goal, and assist scorers in NHL history. Figures are updated after each completed NHL regular season.
Note: Pos = Position; GP = Games Played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; P/G = Points per game; G/G = Goals per game; A/G = Assists per game; * = Active player
- First black player in an NHL Game: Willie O'Ree (January 18, 1958)
- First black player to surpass 20 goals in a single season: Alton White, Los Angeles Sharks, WHA, 1972-73 season
- First black player to surpass 100 PIM in a NHL season: Bill Riley (1976-77)
- First black player to surpass 20 goals in a single NHL season: Tony McKegney (1979-80)
- First black goalie in the NHL: Grant Fuhr (1981-82)
- First black player to surpass 100 goals in the NHL: Tony McKegney (1982-83)
- First black player to win the Stanley Cup: Grant Fuhr (1983-84)
- First black player to surpass 500 NHL Points: Tony McKegney (1987-88)
- First black player to surpass 200 NHL Wins: Grant Fuhr (1988-89)
- First black player to win the Frank J. Selke Trophy: Dirk Graham (1990-91)
- First black player to win the William M. Jennings: Grant Fuhr (1993-94)
- First black player to surpass 200 PIM in a NHL season: Donald Brashear (1995-96)
- First black player to earn 20 shutouts: Grant Fuhr (1996-97)
- First black player to surpass 1,000 PIM in the NHL: Donald Brashear (1997-98)
- First black head coach in the NHL: Dirk Graham (1998-99 Chicago Blackhawks)
- First black player to surpass 400 NHL Wins: Grant Fuhr (1999-00)
- First black player to surpass 50 goals in a single NHL season: Jarome Iginla (2001-02)
- First black player in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Grant Fuhr (2003)
- First black player to surpass 2,000 PIM in the NHL: Donald Brashear (2005-06)
- First black player to surpass 500 goals in the NHL: Jarome Iginla (2011-12)
- First black player to win the James Norris Memorial Trophy: P. K. Subban (2012-13)
- First American born black player in a NHL game: Val James (1981-82)
- First American-born and exclusively American-trained black player in a NHL game: Mike Grier (1996-97)
- First American born black player to surpass 1,000 PIM in the NHL: Donald Brashear (1997-98)
- First American born black player to surpass 20 goals in a single NHL season: Mike Grier (1998-99)
- First American born black goalie in the NHL: Gerald Coleman (2005-06)
- First American born black player to play 1,000 NHL Games: Donald Brashear (2009-10)
- First American born black player to win the Stanley Cup: Dustin Byfuglien (2009-10)
- First black captain for Canadian national team: Angela James (1990)
- First black coach in professional hockey: John Paris Jr. of Windsor, Nova Scotia become the first black coach in professional hockey with the Atlanta Knights in 1994
- First black player to win a gold medal at the Winter Olympics: Jarome Iginla (2002)
- First time two black players played in the NHL in the same game: Mike Marson and Bill Riley
- First black TV analyst in hockey: Kevin Weekes Weekes provides color commentary for NHL games on the NHL Network and Hockey Night in Canada.
- As of the 2010-11 NHL season, the only African American player agent is Eustace King.
- ^ a b  Black Ice: The Lost History of the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes, 1895-1925
- ^ African Nova Scotia Hockey History Archived February 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.. Birthplaceofhockey.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ African-Canadian Hockey History - Articles - Ontario Black History Society. Blackhistorysociety.ca. Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ Herb Carnegie. Greatest Hockey Legends.com (2007-01-21). Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ a b "Rink Rookie Makes Hockey History". Ebony: 64-68. April 1973.
- ^ Tony McKegney
- ^ "Willie O'Ree 50th Anniversary Section | NHL.com - NHL Community". NHL.com. Retrieved .
- ^ Humble Beginnings: Mike Marson & Bill Riley - Washington Capitals Club History Archived June 13, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.. Capitals.nhl.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ Jim Kelley. "First black inductee pleased to be role model". ESPN.com. November 3, 2003. Retrieved on September 10, 2008.
- ^ a b Allen, Kevin (January 14, 2008). "Willie O'Ree still blazing way in NHL 50 years later". USA Today. Retrieved 2014.
- ^ "OLYMPICS: THE PIONEER; A Humble Iginla Raises His Profile". The New York Times. 2002-02-25. Retrieved .
- ^ Sharrers is first black referee. Cbc.ca (2001-04-04). Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ IIHF Top 100 Hockey Stories of All Time, p.61, Szymon Szenberg and Andrew Podnieks, 2008, Fenn Publishing Company Ltd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, ISBN 978-1-55168-358-4
- ^ IIHF Top 100 Hockey Stories of All Time, p.145, Szymon Szenberg and Andrew Podnieks, 2008, Fenn Publishing Company Ltd, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, ISBN 978-1-55168-358-4
- ^ Hockey Canada
- ^ "Heaney, James, Granato honoured". Yahoo!. 2008-05-15. Archived from the original on June 7, 2008. Retrieved .
- ^ a b "IIHF Hall of Fame adds seven". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2008-05-16. Archived from the original on 2008-06-07. Retrieved .
- ^ "Two OBHA Hall of Famers Recognized by International Ice Hockey". Ontario Ball Hockey Association. 2007-12-20. Retrieved .
- ^ "Angela James". Ontario Black History Society. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved .
- ^ Black Hockey Roots of Nova Scotia Archived 2011-02-11 at the Wayback Machine.. Birthplaceofhockey.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-02.
- ^ "Weekes is a bold new voice for Hockey Night in Canada". The Hockey News. September 30, 2009. Retrieved .
- ^ The Hockey News, Volume 64, Number 14, January 17, 2011, Publisher: Caroline Andrews, Transcontinental Media