Jason Payne Becomes the Only Current Black Head Pro Hockey Coach in North America


Many don’t know the name Jason Payne outside of the hockey arena.

Today that should change.

Payne was promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. According to Emily Kaplan of ESPN, that makes him the only current Black head coach in North American professional hockey.

It’s a move Payne hopes inspires others who love hockey and look like him.

“It’s important for younger players to see familiar faces, saying, ‘Yeah, maybe I can be the guy behind the bench, maybe I can be someone in hockey operations, maybe I can be a video coach,’” said Payne to ESPN. “The more you see the faces the more it sheds light on the opportunities that are possible.”

The 45-year-old head coach grew up in Toronto as a hockey fan. He played professionally for 14 years and even made it to the ACL.

“I know how hard I worked to play pro hockey for 14 years, and try to make it to the NHL,” said Payne. “I only made it to the AHL. But if I fought that hard to play, why would I not fight just as hard, if not harder, in coaching?”

Jason Payne followed Matt Thomas to the Cyclones when he was hired as their head coach in 2018.

Under their leadership, the team was 89-30-12-4 and made the postseason twice.

Continue reading over at First and Pen.

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