Posted on March 9, 2011

Analyst Kevin Weekes Helps Change Face of Hockey

Frederick Cosby,, March 8, 2011

Anyone who doesn’t believe that the face of professional ice hockey is rapidly changing should take a look at Kevin Weekes.

For the second consecutive season, Weekes can be seen on “Hockey Night in Canada,” the first national black hockey analyst in the history of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s prestigious ratings juggernaut, up north’s equivalent to the United States’ “Monday Night Football.”

“I’m something that ‘Hockey Night in Canada’ viewers hadn’t seen before,” Weekes told McClatchy Newspapers. “For some people, it has taken some time getting used to it. I know that from certain comments from the odd person. But the vast majority of people have been excellent.”


[Weeks has] become such a hockey fixture that he’ll be in Washington this week to participate in the third annual Congressional Hockey Challenge, a game between hockey-playing members of the House of Representatives and Senate versus lobbyists; to stop by the White House to witness President Barack Obama congratulate the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks {snip}.

Weekes will coach one of the teams in the Congressional Hockey Challenge. The proceeds from the event go to Washington’s Fort Dupont Ice Arena, one of the few ice skating rinks in America located in a predominantly black neighborhood, and to the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the nation’s oldest minority youth hockey program. Its founder, Neal Henderson, was profiled last month during NBC’s coverage of “Hockey Day Across America.”

Weekes’ presence on the air has been a game-changer in terms of attracting more black fans to hockey and showing black youths that hockey isn’t just an all-white sport. Willie O’Ree, who became the NHL’s first black player when he joined the Boston Bruins in 1958, said black kids can see someone who looks like them involved in a non-traditional game and see the possibilities for them in the sport.


{snip} It used to be that black people didn’t want to hear anything about hockey, dismissing it as a white man’s game. Weekes recalls the days he was barely able to strike up a hockey conversation when he visited his black barbershop in hockey-crazed Toronto. {snip}


“My concern with hockey in general,” Moore [former CBC president Scott Moore] told Sports Illustrated in 2009, “is we tend to skew old, and we tend not to speak to diverse communities.”

Weekes’ arrival in the broadcast booth coincides with growth in the number of black players in the NHL. There are more than 20 black players currently on NHL rosters, an all-time high. Four of them–all-star defenseman and Minnesotan Dustin Byfuglien, Canadian-born forwards Evander Kane and Anthony Stewart and Swedish defenseman Johnny Oduya–play for the Atlanta Thrashers.