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Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark, left, makes a stop of a redirtected shot off the stick of Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher, center, as Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy defends during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, front, wraps around the net past Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, center, to put a shot on goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Boston Bruins left wing Nick Foligno, center, reaches for the puck from between Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews, left, and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Hockey has Indigenous roots but has become a predominantly white sport in North America, Europe and elsewhere. Some of the first elite Indigenous hockey players made it into the league well before Willie O’Ree became the first Black player to skate in an NHL game in January 1958. Taffy Abel carried the American flag at the 1924 Olympics, where his team won silver. Henry Elmer “Buddy” Maracle played 11 games in the early-1930s NHL. Paul Jacobs may have played in the league’s second season in 1918-19. Determining who broke the so-called color barrier in the NHL is difficult at best.
FILE - The New York Rangers, members of the National Hockey League, pose for a photo in 1928 in New York. From left to right, top row: Billy Boyd, Butch Keeling, manager Lester Patrick, Ching Johnson, Myles Lane, Taffy Abel and Paul Thompson. From left to right, bottom row: trainer Harry Westerby, Murray Murdock, Frank Boucher, Bill Cook, John Ross, Leo Bourgault and Bunny Cook. Abel was one of the first known Native American players in the NHL. (AP Photo/File)
FILE - Hockey Hall of Famer Willie O'Ree, left, waves to the crowd before dropping the ceremonial puck before an NHL hockey game between the Boston Bruins and the Edmonton Oilers in Boston, Jan. 4, 2020. The first elite Indigenous hockey players played well before Willie O’Ree became the first Black player to skate in an NHL game in January 1958. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)
FILE - Former Chicago Blackhawks player Fred Sasakamoose is honored at the Edmonton Oilers-Chicago Blackhawks NHL hockey game Dec. 29, 2017, in Edmonton, Alberta. Sasakamoose is recognized as becoming the league's first Canadian aboriginal player in 1953, and he turned into a First Nations hero. But historians and the Hall of Fame would give that distinction to Mohawk player Paul Jacobs if he played in a game during the 1918-19 season. (Jason Franson/The Canadian Press via AP, File)