The NHL is the last major North American sport not to have a significant minority presence, but this year's draft could change that. With the 4th pick the Nashville Predators selected Seth Jones and with the 7th pick the Edmonton Oilers selected Darnell Nurse. Both Jones and Nurse are African American. Hockey has a handful of minority players at present, but no one that really impacts the game on a nightly basis. Is the NHL ready to embrace a superstar of color?
As much as I want to say yes, I have my doubts. At a time when the country has become more progressive and sensitive with regards to racial issues hockey has had some problems. There was a banana throwing incident in Toronto a few years back and Washington Capitals player Joel Ward received death threats after scoring the winning goal in a playoff game last year. I don't think two players can change the mindset of fans overnight.
That being said I also understand winning cures all things. If Jones and Nurse lead their teams to Stanley Cup contention it is unlikely they will be the target of ignorant comments, gestures, and slurs. Like with anything it could be a few bad apples spoiling it for everyone else and giving the impression negative attitudes are much more prevalent than they really are. I like hockey so I'm hoping Nurse and Jones have a smooth transition into the NHL spotlight. Your thoughts?