Long Island’s Val James is focal point of NHL’s Black History Month Tour

Val James is most notable for being the first U.S.-born African American player in NHL history.
James, who grew up in Hauppauge, New York, until moving to Canada to play junior hockey when he was 16, played in just 11 total NHL games with the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs, but his legacy continues to shine bright for his barrier breaking efforts. He spent February as an ambassador on the NHL’s Black History Month tour.
Throughout the last month, a 525-square foot mobile museum traveled to NHL arenas, community rinks and schools as a roving educational and historic exhibit in parts of Canada and the United States.
James wrote an autobiography titled “Black Ice: The Val James Story” in 2015 and chronicled his journey as a youngster skating at Long Island Arena in Commack to facing adversity at AHL and NHL rinks during his 11-season professional career.
“I feel I have opened a few doors for guys that might not have gotten that chance later on in their careers,” he wrote, “so to be able to do something like that for someone, whether it be my race or someone else's race, it's just a nice thing to do.”
MORE COVERAGE: Black History Month