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.
Mike Marson was the second black hockey player to play in the NHL being drafted 19th overall in 1974 by the Washington Capitals, 14 years after Willie O’Ree.
Signing a five year contract with the Caps, his first NHL game would also be the first game in Capitals franchise history. Marson would appear in six NHL seasons spending five with the Capitals and appearing in three games for the Los Angeles Kings. During his time with the Capitals he would also move back and forth between various AHL affiliates.
After retiring from hockey, Marson notably held a seventh degree black belt and created his company the Mike Marson Athletic Training Services that developed an off-ice martial arts training program for hockey players designed to improve timing, focus and confidence. Former NHL player Rick Nash trained and utilized Marson’s program in 2000 and 2001 while a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Bill Riley was a member of the Washington Capitals, first appearing for the Caps in the 1974-1975 season where he appeared in one game. Following his appearance, Riley would play for the Dayton Gems of the IHL through the 1976-1977 season. Riley would sign as a free agent with the Capitals in the 1976-1977 season and would spend three seasons with the Capitals before being claimed by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1979 expansion draft.
Riley would skate in 14 games for the Jets before being assigned to the minors. Over the next five seasons, Riley would play for the Nov Scotia Voyageurs, New Brunswick Hawks, and Moncton Alpines. Riley would be a member of the Calder Cup championship Hawks in 1982.
After retiring from playing, Riley would go on to coach in junior hockey as well as hold positions of head coach, general manager and director of player personnel of the Miramichi Timberwolves.
Tony McKegney was drafted 32nd overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1978 draft. McKegney would go on to play 5 seasons for the Sabres before playing for the Quebec Nordiques, Minnesota North Stars, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks for the remaining 8 seasons of his career.
McKegney registered nine 20 goal seasons over his career in the NHL. He was the first black player in NHL history to score 40 goals in a season. His 1987-88 season with the St. Louis Blues was the highest point producing of a black hockey player in NHL history until Jarome Iginla’s 2001-02 96 point season with the Calgary Flames. McKegney would score 320 goals overall with 639 total points in 912 games.
Prior to his NHL career, McKegney signed a contract in 1978 to play for the WHA’s Birmingham Bulls. The owner John Bassett reneged on the contract after fans threatened to boycott the team over the signing of a black player. He would go on to have a successful 13 year NHL career and be the first black hockey star in league history overlapping with Grant Fuhr.