Collectively they have played less than 100 National Hockey League games, yet a pair of Aboriginal athletes, Dwight King and Jordan Nolan, has accomplished what most hockey players only dream of, hoisting the Stanley Cup.
King and Nolan were both members of the Los Angeles Kings, who captured the NHL’s top prize this season. The Kings won the Stanley Cup on June 11 on home ice with a 6-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils. Los Angeles defeated the Devils in six games in their best-of-seven championship final series.
Both King, who is Metis, and Nolan, who is Ojibwe, had started the season in the minors, with Los Angeles’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Manchester Monarchs. They were both called up to the Kings this past February and managed to stick around for the remainder of the regular season and throughout LA’s lengthy post-season run.
Both King and Nolan appeared in all 20 of the Kings’ playoff matches.
King, who is 22 and hails from Meadow Lake, Sask., also suited up for 27 regular season games. He earned 14 points, including five goals in those matches.
King then added eight points (five goals, three assists) in the playoffs.
Nolan, who is also 22 and from Ontario’s Garden River First Nation near Sault Ste. Marie, appeared in 26 regular season contests and collected four points, including a pair of goals. The youngest son of former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan also scored once and added an assist during the Kings’ playoffs.
King, who has been a pro for three seasons now, also appeared in six games for Los Angeles during the 2010-11 season.
As a result, the two Aboriginal players have combined to appear in a total of 99 NHL games thus far.
The fact both have managed to make it to the NHL is a feat in itself since they were considered somewhat longshots to do so.
King had been hoping to become an NHL regular since 2007, when Los Angeles selected him in the fourth round of the NHL Entry Draft. He was the 109th player chosen in his draft year.
As for Nolan, he was bypassed by all clubs during the first two years he was eligible for the NHL draft. The Kings eventually drafted him as a 20-year-old. He was Los Angeles’ seventh-round pick, 186th over-all, at the 2009 draft.
Nolan spent his first season-and-a-half as a pro in the AHL with the Monarchs, before being recalled by the Kings in February.
Nationals in Cranbrook
Aboriginal fastball squads will be heading to Canada’s westernmost province this summer to decide national bragging rights. The 2012 Canadian Native Fastball Championships are scheduled for Aug. 3 to 5 in Cranbrook, B.C.
The tournament will feature three divisions. Besides men’s and women’s categories, there will also be a men’s masters division, for players who are 40 and up.
A total of 55 squads participated at the 2011 national tournament held in Winnipeg. The champions included two clubs from British Columbia.
The KDC Braves, who are from Invermere, took top honours in the men’s grouping. And a team called the B.C. Arrows captured the masters division.
A Regina-based club dubbed AMI Pride won the women’s category.
Besides national titles, plenty of cash will also be at stake at this year’s tournament. The winning team in both the men’s and women’s division will be awarded $10,000. And the masters champs will take home $7,500.
Applications will be accepted up until July 6 from Aboriginal people in Ontario seeking a coaching apprenticeship role for the 2013 Canada Summer Games.
Two Aboriginal coaches will be selected to be part of the Ontario contingent for the games, which will be held in Sherbrooke, Que.
A total of 20 sports will be contested at next year’s games, which will run from Aug. 2 to 17.
They are athletics (track and field), baseball, basketball, beach volleyball, canoeing/kayaking, cycling, diving, fencing, golf, mountain biking, rowing, sailing, soccer, softball, swimming, open water swimming, tennis, triathlon, volleyball and wrestling.
Aboriginal coaches from Ontario in any of these sports may apply for the apprenticeship positions. Those that are eventually chosen will be partnered with a mentor coach.
Besides being a part of the multi-sport competition in Sherbrooke next summer, the apprenticeship coaches will also have the support and guidance of not only a mentor coach but the governing body of their provincial sports association for the duration of the program.