NHL celebrates Black History Month with mobile museum honoring black hockey players

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The National Hockey League is celebrating black history month with a mobile museum honoring black hockey players.

There are less than 30 African American players currently active in the NHL – less than 10% of the player base. This makes the NHL the least diverse of the major professional sports league. The exhibit’s organizers say that they hope to change this.

Newark fourth graders had a chance to tour the museum on Monday. They learned about Angela James, the first black woman to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“When they come inside this truck and they see a PK Subban, they're like, ‘Oh, he looks like me. What does he do? Oh, he plays hockey, maybe I want to try that as well,” says museum co-curator Kwame Mason. “They read their stories they get to see them and it might just spark that interest to not only play but to be fans of the game of hockey.”

This is the second year for the Black Hockey History Mobile Museum. It travels to 14 different cities across North America.

The New Jersey Devils have two African American players on the roster, plus an assistant coach. This makes the Devils one of the league’s most diverse teams.

Devils forward Wayne Simmonds says that the museum reminds him of his role in the league.

“You realize you’re a role model for a lot of kids in this world, so you just try to be a good role model, extend yourself to the community and try to help where you can,” he says.

“It’s not just about me. All the players that have come before me, that have come through. I think what moves me the most are the players that have come before me, just trying to understand what they went thought,” says defenseman PK Subban.

But there are many NHL teams that are not as diverse as the Devils. Simmonds and Subban say that more can be done to change that.

"We’ve got to try to spread the game, run camps, go into cities where they might not be exposed to hockey so that we can have more diversity in the game,” says Simmonds.

“What makes me excited is when players reach out to me that aren’t black that want to know about what’s going on and any ways that they can help,” says Subban. “That’s how change is going to happen and that’s how change is going to continue to move things forward.”

The mobile museum will be in Newark through Tuesday night at the Devils' Black History Night event.

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