Val James

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Val James
Born (1957-02-14) February 14, 1957 (age 57)
Ocala, FL, USA
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL Draft 184th overall, 1977
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1978–1988

Valmore Edwin James (born February 14, 1957 in Ocala, Florida and raised in Long Island, New York) is a retired American professional ice hockey left winger who played 2 seasons in the National Hockey League for the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. James was the first African American to play in the NHL when he debuted with the Sabres, although he was not the first black player. He was preceded by several Black Canadians, starting with Willie O'Ree (Bruins 58-61).[1] Also, although James was the first African American to have played in the NHL, his time playing junior hockey in Quebec meant that he was not the first exclusively U.S.-trained African American in the league; that milestone would not occur until 1996, when Mike Grier made his NHL debut.[2] James was also the first native-born Floridian to play in the NHL.[3]

Playing career[edit]

James was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 16th Round, 184th overall in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft after playing 2 seasons in the QMJHL for the Quebec Remparts. He also played several seasons in the late '70s for the Erie Blades (who played against the famous Johnstown Jets and the Carlson/Hanson brothers from Slap Shot). His wicked hip check would shake the Erie County Field House. James made his NHL debut for the Buffalo Sabres during the 1981-82 NHL season, playing seven games. His next NHL stint came in the 1986-87 NHL season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing four games. James, an African-American, was an amateur Golden Gloves boxer[citation needed] and his pugilistic skills were applied in the NHL and AHL (farm system) with considerable success. Spirited bouts and victories over noted ruffians Terry O'Reilly (Boston Bruins) and John Kordic distinguish his record. Even one of the NHL's all-time top enforcers Dave Brown is said to[weasel words] have singled out Val James as one of the hardest punching players he had ever faced.


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