Quinton Byfield and the Los Angeles Kings made history on Tuesday night.
The Kings selected Byfield with the No. 2 overall pick in the NHL draft, marking the highest a Black player has ever been drafted in the history of the league.
Both San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones held the previous mark, each having been selected No. 4 overall in their drafts in 2009 and 2013, respectively.
Quinton Byfield makes NHL history
The move comes amid a larger push for diversity and social justice both in the NHL and the rest of the sports world. The NHL announced a new plan to “combat racism” last month, which includes both mandatory inclusion and diversity training, among other things. The Hockey Diversity Alliance was formed earlier this year by several players of color in the league, too.
“I think it is definitely something special and I want to be the highest Black drafted in the NHL,” Byfield said ahead of the draft, via The Athletic. “I think that would be something really special. I think that it shows that having guys like Evander Kane and Seth Jones and P.K. Subban getting drafted and being impact players helped me growing up. It gave me the example that I could do it some day. Maybe I could see myself as a player.
“Now it is my time and my turn to take that role. It would be special to know that with this new generation that you could make an impact.”
Byfield, 18, spent the past two seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sudbury Wolves. He racked up 32 goals and 82 points in 45 games last season, backing up his OHL Rookie of the Year campaign in 2018-19.
He played for the Canadian national team in the 2020 World Junior Championship, and was the youngest player on the gold medal-winning team.
The Newmarket, Ontario, native was named to the OHL Third All-Star Team this year and served as team captain in the CHL Top Prospects game, too.
"Quinton is an exceptional young man and talented player with a very bright future," Kings vice president and general manager Rob Blake said in a statement. "We're proud to be adding him to our organization and look forward to the next stages of his development and a promising career in LA."
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