In honor of Black History Month, TheFHN will be featuring bios on all the black hockey players who have played in the NHL each day throughout the month.
Graeme Townshend was the first Jamaican born player to play in the NHL. Prior to the NHL, Townshend was captain of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) NCAA Division 1. After his senior year, Townshend signed with the Boston Bruins and would split time over the next five seasons with the Bruins, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and stints in the AHL. After his NHL playing days,
Townshend would go on to play in six seasons in the AHL, IHL, and WPHL for the Prince Edward Island Senators (AHL), Houston Aeroes, Minnesota Moose, Utah Grizzles (IHL) and two stops with the Lake Charles Ice Pirates (WPHL). Over the course of 686 professional games, Townshend would score 227 goals and 208 assists for 435 points.
After his playing career, Townshend would go on to coach for the Macon Whoopee of the CHL and Greensboro Generals of the ECHL. He also owned and operated nationally acclaimed GTP Hockey Schools with specialty camps in numerous locations throughout the U.S. and Canada with former students including Brad Richards, Martin St. Louis, Jay Pandolpho, Wayne Primeau Mike Ricci and Paul Mara just to name a few. He is spent nine years as the Skating and Skills coach for the San Jose Sharks and then Toronto Maple Leafs.
In 2011, Townshend would became the first coach of the Jamaican Olympic Ice Hockey Federations men’s national junior team.
Reggie Savage was drafted 15th overall by the Washington Capitals in the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. His first NHL goal came during a penalty shot with the Capitals. Savage would play in parts of two seasons with the Capitals; his first derailed by a season ending leg injury suffered during practice before finishing his NHL career with the Quebec Nordiques.
Savage’s professional playing career would see him mostly in the AHL where he was just shy of a point per game player. After the NHL, he would spend time with the Cornwall Aces, Syracuse Crunch, Springfield Falcons, and Milwaukee Admirals all of the AHL. He would also play in the IHL for the Atlanta Knights and three different teams during the 1997-98 season (Kansas City Blades, San Antonio Dragons, Orlando Solar Bears) before playing in Europe. For the 2003-04 season he returned to the AHL to play with the Admirals before finishing his career in the UHL and ECHL the next two seasons.
Dale Craigwell was drafted by the San Jose Sharks 199th overall in the 10th round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Craigwell would split time between the Sharks and Kansas City Blades of the IHL for his first two professional seasons before playing full-time with the Sharks for the 1993-94 season.
After the Sharks, Craigwell would play four more seasons in the IHL mostly with the Blades before going over to play in Europe.
Darren Banks began his professional playing career in the ECHL with the Knoxville Checkers after three seasons of college hockey at Brock University. After a productive season in the ECHL where Banks early on established his career as an enforcer, he would go on to play for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles and Fort Wayne Komets of the IHL. After three seasons, he signed with the Boston Bruins and would split time between the Bruins and minor league affiliate Providence Bruins of the AHL.
Following his time in the Boston system, Banks would spend parts of the next two seasons in the Detroit Red Wings system but never played in the NHL again. His career would continue in the minor leagues with stops in the CoHL (became the UHL), IHL, UHL, WCHL and a stop in England to play in the BISL. In between his playing days in the minors, Banks also had stints in the Roller Hockey International League for the Anaheim Bullfrogs and Long Island Jawz during the 1995 and 1996 seasons.
In November 2013, Banks was among the 10 players who launched a class action lawsuit against the NHL over head injuries and concussions. As a result of his time playing hockey, Banks suffers from memory problems