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Byfield Becomes Highest-drafted Black Player In NHL History

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, file photo, Team Red center Quinton Byfield (55) moves in on Team White goaltender Dylan Garand (32) while defended by Jack Thompson (23) during the second period of hockey's CHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ontario. Byfield is one of the top NHL draft prospects. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

FILE - In this Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020, file photo, Team Red center Quinton Byfield (55) moves in on Team White goaltender Dylan Garand (32) while defended by Jack Thompson (23) during the second period of hockey's CHL Top Prospects Game in Hamilton, Ontario. Byfield is one of the top NHL draft prospects. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press via AP, File)

Quinton Byfield became the highest drafted Black player in NHL history on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the second pick.

Quinton Byfield became the highest drafted Black player in NHL history on Tuesday night when the Los Angeles Kings selected him with the second pick.

Being in the record books for anything is definitely super special, but that especially, Byfield said. “My dad and mom didnt play hockey or didnt have too much knowledge about that. Kind of just growing the game together. I think it just shows that theres a lot of opportunity for everyone in the world and that you can play every sport and be successful in it.

Byfield was immediately congratulated by San Jose’s Evander Kane and hopes to one day help hockey’s diversity initiatives.

The league is doing a really a really good job with all the inclusivity and just the awareness that theyre getting out,” Byfield said. “I think it would be really nice if I got involved with that and spread the positivity and just be a positive role model.

The 6-foot-5 Canadian center who played in the Ontario Hockey League might be able to start sooner than later. He believes he could play in the NHL next season.

Im pretty confident guy, Byfield said. I definitely think I could step into the NHL next year, but I know its a really big jump from the OHL and really challenging.

SANDERSON SKIPS CLASS

Before he went fifth to Ottawa, Jake Sanderson had to email his biology professor at North Dakota to get out of class so he could get to the arena and set up for the draft. The defenseman was excused.

She understood the circumstances because she knows its a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I think she was pretty excited for me,” said Sanderson, the son of former NHL forward Geoff Sanderson. “Obviously I’ll be in class next week.

HAWERCHUK TRIBUTE

The Winnipeg Jets paid tribute to late Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk by having his wife, Crystal, announce their first-round pick. Hawerchuk lost his long battle with stomach cancer in August.

Our family would like to thank the Winnipeg Jets and all of Dales loyal fans and friends for their love and support, she said. I want you to know that he loved Winnipeg and always felt a special connection to the people of Manitoba. We both consider Winnipeg our home.

Fitting because her husband is from Toronto, she then announced the pick of Toronto-area native Cole Perfetti at No 10.

___

AP Hockey Writer John Wawrow contributed.


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