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Preview/Lines #58: Duclair, Bailey & Smith Talk Importance of Representation, Celebrating Black History in Hockey

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Credit: San Jose Sharks

Anthony Duclair made his NHL debut in 2014. He said it was five years before he had a black teammate, Seth Jones, with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2018.

Now he has two black teammates on the San Jose Sharks, Givani Smith and Justin Bailey.

“First time in 10 years I’ve had two black teammates, so it’s pretty cool,” Duclair said today. “You just look towards the future. Hopefully, it’s kind of the norm and you see a bunch of black guys on each different team.”

The San Jose Sharks are celebrating Black History Month tonight with a poster designed by Duclair, Bailey, and Smith.

They picked the black hockey pioneers featured on the poster, along with the pictures of themselves.

The first black player in the NHL, Willie O’Ree, was a must for all the Sharks.

“I met him right before my Draft in Jersey, 11 years ago now, real honor,” Duclair recalled of the 88-year-old trailblazer. “He’s still doing a lot of community work still to this day. He definitely motivates me to be a better person off the ice. I’m trying to grow the game in that sense.”

That’s not just lip service. The Anthony Duclair Foundation just broke ground on a synthetic ice rink at Boyd Anderson High School in predominantly-black Lauderdale Lakes in Florida earlier this month.

Boyd Anderson Gets First Synthetic Rink from Anthony Duclair Foundation

Besides O’Ree and the Sharks themselves, GM Mike Grier, Angela James, and Wayne Simmonds are featured on the poster.

Simmonds holds a particular importance to Smith.

Both hail from Toronto, Smith from Rexdale and Simmonds from Scarborough.

For Smith, 25, it was important growing up to see a player who looked like him in the NHL Simmonds. Fellow Toronto native P.K. Subban was another Smith hero.

“It’s what made it seem more tangible, and something that I could do if they could do it,” Smith shared.

For Duclair, Bailey, and Smith, it was important growing up and as they made their way up the ladder to see successful players who looked like themselves. And now, they’re setting that same example for a new generation of players of color.

“I remember last summer, one kid from Montreal, before the camp, told his parents that he wanted to quit hockey,” Duclair told San Jose Hockey Now about his recent hockey camp. “Then after the camp, after the week, he was all smiles. The mom came up to me, almost crying, saying that he’s not quitting hockey anymore, he loves it now, and he wants to continue and be me one day.”

Subscriber Q&A: Duclair on What Matters to Him More Than Points, Most Stylish Sharks (+)

Tonight’s poster commemorates the importance of representation.

Bailey says he’s getting the poster framed: “It’s obviously something I’ll be keeping for a long time.”

San Jose Sharks (15-37-5)

Kaapo Kahkonen starts. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a game-time decision.

Anaheim Ducks (20-35-3)

This is how the Ducks lined up in their last game, no word yet on their lineup tonight:

Where to Watch

Puck drop between the San Jose Sharks and Anaheim Ducks is 7:30 PM PT at SAP Center. Watch it live on NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network.

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