Indigenous NHL players who dominated the league
By Nathan Woolridge, Staff Writer
The NHL has a long history of Indigenous players who have left their mark in the league. Here is a list of some popular Indigenous NHL players and some of the top teams that they have played for.
Rene Bourque: Colorado Avalanche
Rene Bourque was originally signed by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 and made his NHL debut in 2005/2006. He played for the Chicago Blackhawks before being traded to the Calgary Flames in 2008. It was with the Flames where Bourque began crafting a career. Totalling 164 points in 249 games in a Flames uniform. He was later traded to the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets and then finally to the Colorado Avalanche. Bourque is currently playing for Djurgårdens of the Swedish Hockey League. Most recently, he became a bronze-medalist in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Bourque, who is Métis has devoted time, money and effort to encourage Aboriginal youth to play hockey and help affording towrads hockey.
Micheal Ferland: Calgary Flames
According to NHL.com, “For about two weeks in April of 2015, Ferland, who is Cree, was the most talked-about person in Calgary. Signs touting him as the city’s next mayor started cropping up. Through the Flames’ first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks, Ferland could’ve beaten teammate Johnny Gaudreau in a popularity contest.” Ferland wasn’t selected until 133rd overall pick in the fifth-round of the 2010 NHL Draft. Now, he has earned a spot on the Calgary Flames’ top offensive line with Sean Monahan and Gaudreau. Early in his career, Ferland has already played nearly 250 games and has scored over 40 goals.
T.J. Oshie: Washington Capitals
NBC Sports wrote, “In 2002, two years after his parents separated, Oshie, who was 15 at the time, moved with his father to Tim Oshie’s hometown of Warroad, Minn … It was in Warroad that T.J. Oshie learned more about his family’s Native American heritage as members of Ojibwe Nation.” Living in Washington for most of his life Oshie did not experience his first powwow until he was 15 and living in Warroad. Oshie recalled to NBC how important it was to connect to his Indigenous roots. He was given the name “Keeway Gaaboo” which means “Coming Home.”
Oshie is nearing 700 NHL career goals – his career began in 2008/2009 with the St. Louis Blues. He played with the squad until 2015 and then joined the Washington Capitals where he currently still plays. Oshie has scored 185 goals and has tallied 273 assists.
Carey Price: Montreal Canadiens
Carey Price was raised off the Indian Reserve and did not receive status until 2011, his mom told CBC. Price’s mom is a former chief of Ulkatcho First Nation in B.C. Price’s parents have been known to be supportive of their children. CBC wrote, “In remote Anahim Lake, B.C. the closest competitors and rinks were miles away from where the family lived. Carey’s father bought a small plane and learned to fly so his son could play the sport.”
Price’s mom did an interview with CBC in 2014, while she was watching her son at the Olympics. She talked about the importance of Price’s Indigenous heritage in his playing.
“I think the sense of connection to our land and where we come from helps keeps us all grounded in who we are … Our culture has been to maintain the simple life and appreciate the blessings our creator has given us.”
Price debuted with the Montreal Canadiens in 2007/2008 where he played 41 games. Price continues to be the Canadiens’ clutch starting goaltender. He has played in over 550 games; winning nearly 300 of them. Price is also one of the most statistically dominant goaltenders to ever wear the red maple leaf. He is also a one-time Olympic gold medalist.
Jordin Tootoo: Chicago Blackhawks
Jordin Tootoo was the first Inuk player in the NHL. Tootoo rose to NHL fame when playing in Nashville beginning in 2003/2004. He then played short stints in Detroit, New Jersey and Chicago. As a right-wing, Tootoo never scored many goals – with only 65 goals in over 700 games. When describing Tootoo’s autobiography, The Hockey News wrote that Tootoo is “tough-as-nails, built-like-a-brick fighter who, against all odds, reached hockey’s highest summit from the small village of Rankin Inlet in Nunavut.” Tootoo has racked up over 1,000 penalty minutes and 160 points in over 10 years grinding in the league.