Canadian's George and Darril Fosty can be thanked for adding color and texture to a game already glowing with it. The Fosty's (white) produced extensive and enlightening research in their book, Black Ice, illuminating the participation and contributions of Canadians of African descent in the 1800's in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Fosty's research points out that black hockey squads were entertaining all white audiences, while displaying outstanding speed and skill in hockey's early history.
Also impressive was the book's reference of the use of slap-shots and butterfly styles by goaltenders long before they came into vogue in the NHL. Stars of that era included "Hippo" Galloway ,and many others.
This was well before Willie O'Ree made his mark as the first player of African heritage to play in the NHL in the 1950's with the Boston Bruins after starring in the Quebec junior ranks.
The 21st century has seen a larger number of players make it to the NHL and the NHL brain-trust has even contributed to developing more African American youth by creating the "Hockey Is for Everyone" program.