I was watching Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup opening series between the Washington Capitals and the defending Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins when Joel Ward scored the game winning goal in sudden-death overtime for the Caps.
I know Joel Ward is black but black hockey players are not unheard although they remain a minority in hockey in more ways than one. But this report makes me sick.
NHL fans let loose with racist comments after loss - News-Sentinel.com
I am confident that the guilty ones are a very small minority of Bruin fans and hockey fans all over.
As I thought about this I reflected back on one aspect of Fort Wayne Komets hockey history that was remarkable at that time and maybe still would be today but at the time was seldom if ever noted.
In 1993 the Fort Wayne Komets captured the IHL Turner Cup with a very remarkable team that went through the playoffs undefeated, 11-0, sweeping the Cleveland Lumberjacks 3-0 in the first round, the Atlanta Knights 4-0 in the semi-finals, and the San Diego Gulls 4-0 in the final series. I saw every home playoff game that season in person.
That Fort Wayne Komets Turner Cup championship team featured three black players. And I mean featured. They weren't role players or just taking up roster space. They were very key components of the team.
Pokey Reddick was the goalie who in the opinion of Hockey Night in Canada analyst, Don Cherry, was playing the best goal of anyone anywhere in hockey during that playoff season. His playoff performance and stats were totally remarkable.
Ian Boyce was an incredibly popular Komet who as a left-wing combined with center Lee Davidson and right-wing Peter Hankinson to form an effective defensive line who would also score many critical goals all season long.
And Komets legend Steve Fletcher whose retired number 77 now hangs from the rafters was the physical presence and enforcer who protected the Komets skilled players to make things work all season long.
The more I think about it, maybe it is remarkable that these three players played such significant roles for the Komets two decades ago and nobody that I know of in Fort Wayne ever made a big deal out of their race.