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.
Nathan LaFayette was drafted 65th overall in the 3rd round by the St. Louis Blues in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft. Prior to joining the Blues in the 1993-94 season, he was a standout player in juniors. In the 1992-93 season he scored 49 goals for the Newmarket Royals of the OHL and helped Canada win gold at the World Junior Championships.
LaFayette would play in 38 games for the Blues before being traded to the Vancouver Canucks with teammate Brett Hedican. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs he would record nine points over 20 games and hit the post in the final minutes of game 7 in the Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers.
In 1995, he would be traded to the Rangers appearing in five games while mostly playing for the minor league affiliate Binghamton Rangers. After a short stint in the Rangers system, LaFayette would be part of a blockbuster 7 player trade that saw him dealt to the Los Angeles Kings. During his time in L.A. he would suffer two concussions notably in one game which attributed to his career being cut short.
Fred Brathwaite who was undrafted, signed with the Edmonton Oilers in 1993. Over the next three seasons, he would play in the Oilers system both with the NHL club and the Cape Breton Oilers of the AHL.
After leaving the Oilers, Brathwaite would play two seasons for the Manitoba Moose of the IHL where he would score a goal in his first season. After Manitoba, he would sign with the Calgary Flames for the 1998-99 season. Brathwaite’s best NHL season came in his first with the Flames where he posted a 2.45 GAA, .918 SV% and 1 SO and an 11-9-7 (W-L-T) record over 28 games.
After three seasons with the Flames, Braithwaite was dealt to the St. Louis Blues. With the Blues he would fill the role as a backup and would sign with the Blue Jackets after two seasons. He would play one season with the Blue Jackets prior to the 2004-05 lockout before going overseas for two seasons. He would return to the U.S. and play for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL before returning to Europe again to play in Russia and Germany. He would retire after five seasons.
After retiring, he would be the goaltending coach for Adler Manheim of DEL and then Hockey Canada’s goaltending consultant. With aspirations of becoming an NHL goalie coach, Brathwaite would achieve his goal with the New York Islanders in November of 2017. He would hold the role until July of 2018.
Sandy McCarthy was drafted 52nd overall in the 3rd round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames. McCarthy would go on to play in 11 NHL seasons with the Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, Carolina Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Boston Bruins.
Throughout McCarthy’s career, he was most noted as a brute enforcer racking up over 1500 penalty minutes in 736 NHL games. He was also an effective physical forechecker and defensive player.
McCarthy’s most productive NHL seasons with could with the New York Rangers where he netted 59 points over 245 games and a staggering 423 penalty minutes over three seasons.
McCarthy is partly of Black Canadian and First Nations descent. Being of Mi’kmaq descent, this being one of Canada’s official First Nations.
Donald Brashear undrafted, signed as a free agent with the Montreal Canadiens in 1992. He would play in parts with the minor league affiliate Fredericton Canadiens of the AHL before becoming a regular in the NHL for 15 seasons.
Brashear would make his NHL debut with the Canadiens on November 15th 1993 registering an assist against the Ottawa Senators. He would go on to score his first NHL goal two days later against the Edmonton Oilers. After parts of 4 seasons with Montreal, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks following a verbal altercation with Head Coach Mario Tremblay.
During the 1997-98 season with the Canucks, Brashear set a franchise record with 372 penalty minutes. Two seasons later, he would be involved in one of the most publicized on-ice incidents in hockey history.
On February 21st, 2000 the Canucks hosted the Boston Bruins. Brashear was involved in a fight with Marty McSorley and on his way to the penalty box he taunted the Bruins’ bench. Later on in the game, Brashear collided with Bruins goaltender Byron Dafoe, who had to be taken off on a stretcher due to injury. With under 5 seconds left in the game McSorley cut across the ice and swung his stick, striking Brashear’s head with a two-handed slash to the temple. Brashear collapsed to the ice, with his helmet falling and the back of his head struck the ice. He suffered a seizure and a grade-three concussion. McSorley later received an indefinite suspension from the NHL and was charged with assault with a weapon as a result of his actions.
The case went to trial in British Columbia, where Brashear testified that he had no memory of the incident. McSorley was found guilty but avoided a jail sentence. Brashear returned to play prior to the end of the season. The incident effectively ended McSorley’s career, as he never played in another NHL game
After 31 games into the 2001-02 season, Brashear was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. That season he set a career high in points (32) while also amassing 199 penalty minutes. The following season, he was awarded the Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy which is an annual team award given to the most improved player. On March 5th 2004, Brashear was involved in a late game fight against Ottawa Senators enforcer Rob Ray. The fight resulted in five separate brawls breaking out and Brashear being assessed 34 penalty minutes total.
In 2006, Brashear would sign with the Washington Capitals where he would spend 3 seasons and be involved in a notable fight against veteran Brendan Shanahan of the New York Rangers. After not being re-signed by the Capitals, Brashear would sign with the Rangers much to the dismay of the fans who did not forget his 6 game suspension for delivering a blind side hit to Blair Betts during the playoffs that caused Betts to suffer a broken orbital bone.
After a disappointing season with the Rangers, Brashear was placed on waivers and assigned to the minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack where he would appear in 27 games before leaving to play hockey in Europe.
Brashear appeared in 1,025 NHL games and racked up a staggering 2,634 penalty minutes and 205 points.