Photo courtesy of NHL.com
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.
Grant Fuhr was drafted eighth overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1981 NHL Entry Draft. Fuhr played in the NHL from 1981-2000 for the Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, St. Louis Blues, and Calgary Flames. Fuhr was the first black Stanley Cup champion and the first black player to be elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Fuhr’s time in the NHL is most associated with the Oilers, where he backstopped the club as the starting goaltender for four of his five Stanley Cup championships. As an Oiler he appeared in six All Star games and won the Vezina Trophy in 1988.
In 1987, Fuhr backstopped Canada to victory at the Canada Cup for the country’s third title. At the end of the NHL season, Fuhr would win the Vezina and finish second in voting for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
In 1991, Fuhr would be involved in a seven player deal that saw him traded to the Maple Leafs. After a short tenure in Toronto, he was again traded to the Sabres in 1993. While with the Sabres, Fuhr backstopped the team to a playoff series victory over the Boston Bruins and helped mentor Dominik Hasek. The pair would eventually win the William M. Jennings Trophy in 1994.
In May 1993, while a member of the Sabres, Fuhr was denied membership in the neighboring Transit Valley Country Club. At the time, rumors floated that the denial was based on race, as several of Fuhr’s white teammates had been granted membership. Club officials denied they rejected Fuhr based on his race; rather, his application contained “incorrect and incomplete” information. Various acts of vandalism at the club occurred after news of Fuhr’s rejection surfaced, including an incident where vandals burned a swastika onto one of the greenshttps://www.nytimes.com/1993/06/04/sports/club-is-vandalized-in-fuhr-incident.html
Fuhr would be traded in 1995 to the Kings where we he would reunited with Wayne Gretzky and appear in 14 games for the club. In the offseason, he would sign as a free agent with the Blues and win his 300th game on November 30th, 1995. During his four seasons with the Blues, Fuhr would rack up 108 wins which placed him third to Mike Luit and Curtis Joseph for wins in franchise history. Fuhr would be traded in 1999 to the Calgary Flames where he would earn his 400th career win against the Florida Panthers.
In 2000, Fuhr announced his retirement from the NHL. In 2003, Fuhr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2004. He is also a member of the NHL’s Top 100 greatest NHL players of all time.
The Hall of Fame story of Grant Fuhr, the first black superstar in the National Hockey League and the last line of defense for the Edmonton Oilers dynasty, told through Fuhr’s 10 most important games.
Grant Fuhr was the best goalie in the league at a time when hockey was at its most exciting. Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers were arguably the greatest team in league history, and during the 1980s arguably the most popular team across the United States, even if many had little idea where Edmonton was. They were that good. And so was Fuhr: Gretzky called him the best goaltender in the world.
Fuhr broke the colour barrier for NHL goaltenders when he played his first game for the Oilers in 1981, and was an inspiration for later players including future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla. But in addition to their dynastic run of Stanley Cup championships, the Oilers were also synonymous with the excesses of the decade: Fuhr himself was suspended for substance use, a discredit he had to fight back from–and did, going on to set career records and earning election to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.Grant Fuhr: The Story of a Hockey Legend
- Most assists and points by a goaltender regular season and playoffs combined with 61 total points
- Longest undefeated streak by a goaltender in his first NHL season with 23 wins
- NHL record for most assists in a single season by a goaltender with 14 during the 1983-84 season
- Shares NHL record for most wins in a single season postseason with 16 during the 1988 postseason
- Holds NHL record for most games played by a goaltender in a single season with 79 during the 1995-96 season
- Holds NHL record for most consecutive appearances in a single season by a goaltender with 76 during the 1995-96 season