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Wild forward, Rangers adviser part of legacy celebrated for 100th anniversary of men’s hockey program
William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past nine years. Douglas joined NHL.com in March 2019 and writes about people of color in the sport. Today, as part of the NHL celebrating Black History Month, he profiles Boston University honoring Jordan Greenway, Mike Grier, Ed Wright and Lloyd Robinson during the 100th anniversary of the men’s hockey program.
Boston University is honoring the legacy of its Black players as part of the 100th anniversary of the men’s hockey program.
The university’s athletic department produced video tributes to Minnesota Wild forward Jordan Greenway, New York Rangers hockey operations adviser Mike Grier, Ed Wright and Lloyd Robinson, all of whom have played integral roles in diversifying the sport.
The videos, narrated by current BU players, were shown on the hockey team’s social media accounts, and aired on the scoreboard at Agganis Arena on Saturday during the home season finale against rival Boston College.
“With the four that we’re highlighting, when you really look at it, they’ve all been pioneers in some way, shape or form,” said Brian Kelley, associate athletic director for marketing & communications at Boston University. “Obviously, it’s a proud part of our history and fitting in the 100th season of BU men’s hockey that they’re honored and recognized.”
Here’s a look at the honorees:
Jordan Greenway (2015-18)
Greenway became the first Black player to skate for the United States men’s Olympic hockey team when he was selected to play in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.
The 25-year-old native of Canton, New York, was one of four college players on a roster largely comprised of United States-born players who were competing internationally or in the American Hockey League.
Greenway scored one goal in five games. The United States finished seventh.
“It was a pretty good tuneup for me to see the next level,” Greenway said. “We played against the Russian team, and they had (Ilya) Kovalchuk, (Pavel) Datsyuk, Krill (Kaprizov), some good players on that team. It allowed me to understand how good the NHL is, how good pro hockey is, and gave me a taste of what was to come.”
Minnesota selected Greenway in the second round (No. 50) of the 2015 NHL Draft. He signed a three-year, $9 million contract (average annual value $3 million) with the Wild on Jan. 31.
He scored 92 points (28 goals, 64 assists) in 112 games at Boston.
Mike Grier (1993-96)
Grier was the first United States-born Black player to score 20 goals in one season, doing it for the Edmonton Oilers in 1998-99. The forward was chosen by the St. Louis Blues in the ninth round (No. 219) of the 1993 NHL Draft and scored 383 points (162 goals, 221 assists) in 1,060 games for the Oilers, Washington Capitals, Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks from 1996-2011.
Born in Detroit, Grier scored 120 points (59 goals, 61 assists) in 114 games at Boston University. He tied Jacques Joubert for the team lead in goals with 29 in 1994-95, the season it won the NCAA Division I championship, and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award given to the top men’s player in NCAA Division I ice hockey.
Grier joined the Rangers on May 19.
Ed Wright (1966-69)
Wright became the first Black NCAA coach when he accepted the position at the University of Buffalo in 1970 following his playing career at Boston, where the forward scored 62 points (29 goals, 33 assists) in 65 games.
“I got to play as a hockey player, then I got to play as a coach, then I got to be an administrator,” Wright said. “From the time you’re a little kid, all you wanted to do was play. ‘Let me play the game,’ and I did.”
Wright coached at Buffalo for 12 seasons in two stints from 1970-81 and 1986-87, finishing 138-155 with seven ties. He became a scout for the Anaheim Ducks in 1994.
The Chatham, Ontario, native was revered by his players. One, Tunney Murchie, and his family, donated $220,000 to have the university’s volleyball and basketball practice facility renovated and renamed The Edward L. Wright Practice Facility in 2010.
Wright was inducted into the University at Buffalo Athletics Hall of Fame on Feb. 18.
“It gives me a very, very good feeling that I contributed and contributed at a high level,” he said. “Being inducted isn’t that meaningful to me as my players that I have out there. I’ve got lawyers, businesspeople. All the players I had that have gone forth and to just hear about their accomplishments… that’s most meaningful to me.”
Lloyd Robinson (1947-50)
Robinson, a native of Wellesley, Massachusetts, is regarded as the first Black American to play American college hockey. He enrolled at Boston in 1946 after returning from Army service in World War II.
Robinson played his first game against the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on Dec. 7, 1947. The forward scored 49 points (24 goals, 25 assists) in three seasons and helped Boston earn its first NCAA tournament appearance in 1950. It reached the championship game that season but lost 13-4 to Colorado College. Robinson assisted on its first goal of the game.
Robinson was a three-sport athlete at Boston, competing on the gymnastics and diving team. He died in 1987 at age 62. Robin Robinson-Kirkpatrick, his daughter, said photos of her father’s hockey exploits hung on the walls in the family’s home.
“Back then, going through Jim Crow segregation, the Black Power movement, the civil rights movement and everything, we respected what he did,” Robinson-Kirkpatrick said. “But as I got older, I was, like, ‘Wow, we’re getting more into history, and acknowledging that this is history that he went through.'”
Photos courtesy of Boston University Athletics, Robin Robinson-Kirkpatrick, Paul Hokanson, University at Buffalo
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