Written By: Jason Owsley
Full disclosure. I’m a Black man who is a huge hockey fan. While the NBA Finals dominate many of my sport-centric conversations during this season, I cleverly find ways to toss out predictions for the Stanley Cup Finals. Unsurprisingly, my NHL statements are usually met with a bewildered “Oh, you watch hockey?” line. To which I respond with the confident phrase, “Yes, I do.”
To be fair, from a social and cultural standpoint, ice hockey isn’t really on the radar when thinking of Black athletes. Black athletes represent less than 4% of players in the league, a staggeringly small number for a major league sport. Still, there are noteworthy strides being made. In 2022, former player Mike Grier became the general manager of the San Jose Sharks, making history as the first Black general manager in the NHL.
As the NHL pushes for more inclusion, I’m excited to bring awareness to two documentaries this year that highlight the contribution of BIPOC to the sport of ice hockey.
Ice Queens, directed by Kwame Damon Mason, chronicles the contributions of Black women on the ice. This inspirational doc celebrates and showcases the stories of the trailblazers and current players, coaches, and executives who are forging a path for the next generation of Black women players. Featuring interviews with Hockey Hall of Fame inductee Angela James, NHL executive Kim Davis, and a host of others, the film provides a look at the future of the sport — a future that hopefully makes young Black girls feel represented in a game that traditionally hasn’t been seen as an option.
Ice Queens, co-produced by the NHL, premiered in March 2023 and is currently streaming on ESPN+ and the NHL’s official YouTube Channel.
Black Ice, directed by Hubert Davis (and boasting some famous producers), takes an insightful look at the history of hockey and the impact Black players have had on the sport.
The synopsis states, “The film explores the deep BIPOC roots of the game, dating back to 1865 and the Colored Hockey League of the Maritimes (CHL), the first all-pro league, which not only introduced the snap shot but shaped the game of hockey we know today.”
In addition to featuring past and current players, the film also spotlights 87-year-old Willie O’Ree, a Canadian former hockey player who is often called the Jackie Robinson of hockey. He made history as he broke the color barrier and became the first Black player in the NHL.
Black Ice is produced by LeBron James, Maverick Carter, Drake, and Adel “Future” Nul.
The film premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival and will open exclusively in AMC Theaters on July 14, 2023.
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