Detroit — There’s been progress, albeit slow and tedious, but progress nonetheless.
Trevor Daley looks around the NHL, even his dressing room, and sees minorities playing the game of hockey.
The situation is better than when Daley began his pro career in 2003. But there’s also room for improvement.
“Absolutely,” said Daley, of whether there has been an overall improvement in getting minorities into hockey, getting interested in the sport and playing it. “Obviously there are strides we can still make. We’re doing a good job of making those strides.
“But I don’t think we're where we should be.”
Daley, and teammates Madison Bowey and Givani Smith, were planning on attending the NHL Black Hockey History Tour, presented by American Legacy.
The mobile museum stopped at Charles Wright Museum and Little Caesars Arena Saturday, and will stay at LCA Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Black History Month celebration is part of Hockey Is For Everyone, a joint NHL and NHLPA initiative that has celebrated diversity and inclusion in hockey since 1996.
The museum will visit 14 NHL cities across North America, celebrating the stars of today and the past, and trailblazers who helped shape NHL history.
When he was growing up in Toronto, Daley said there were certain players he would admire and pay attention to when they played.
“Being an African American, you look at guys like Anson Carter, Kevin Weekes, Tony McKegney, some of the guys that looked like you out there,” Daley said. “Seeing those guys really helped me to make me want to keep going and trying to get to the level they were at.”
Interestingly, it’s now players such as Daley that the younger generation of players, including Bowey and Smith, look up and admire and help try to grow the game.
Daley, 36, understands his role in all of this.
“When you become a parent you kind of realize what it’s all about,” Daley said. “I watch my son every day look at different players, the guys he idolizes. Sometimes it’s not always Daddy.
“It’s special. You really understand when you have your own kids how much kids really do look at the direction that we’re going and what we are doing.
“I understand it a lot more than I did.”
As part of the tour, the Wings hosted Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey program founder Rico Phillips and several of his players, ages 10-12. For the players, it was the opportunity to attend their first NHL game.
Phillips was the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award winner at the 2019 NHL Awards Show.
The award is named after O’Ree, a 2018 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, who became the first black player in the NHL and has worked as the league’s diversity ambassador for more than 20 years.
Smith, incidentally, again had an impact on a game, screening Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray on Filip Zadina’s power-play goal in Friday's 2-1 overtime loss.
Smith scored his first NHL goal Tuesday against the New York Islanders.
“For a skilled player, he works hard,” forward Dylan Larkin said. “We’re going to need him to keep doing that and keep playing gritty. His confidence is building every game.”
… Three of Zadina’s six goals this season have come on the power play.
… Frans Nielsen had the primary assist on Zadina’s power-play goal against the Penguins. It was Nielsen’s 300th NHL assist.
… Luke Glendening set a career-high, and a Wings’ season-high, with nine hits against the Penguins.