A pretty cool moment went down on the ice last night for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
In their regular-season finale against the Florida Panthers, the Lightning started forwards Daniel Wolcott, Mathieu Joseph, and Gemel Smith. What makes that so cool is that all three players are Black. Even better, they didn’t even know it would happen until a few minutes before the game started.
But make no mistake. This was not for pity, nor was it meant to be a gimmick.
“First of all, they’re all in the NHL for a reason,” said Lightning head coach Jon Cooper. “They deserve to be here and have worked their tails off. To have them all together, they had a little chemistry. Moving forward in the league, you hope it isn’t a story anymore and will be the norm. It was a pretty cool moment for all those guys.”
In a league that is roughly 3% Black, it was a significant moment felt by players, fans and the media alike.
“For the general public, I think it’s huge,” said former NHL player and current NBC hockey analyst Anson Carter, who is Black. “Not only are they playing for the team, but the defending Stanley Cup champs. So, this isn’t a team that’s not in the playoffs, that’s rebuilding, that’s struggling. These are three Black players that are playing for the Stanley Cup champions.”
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