September 17, 1982 |
Kushiro, Hokkaidō, JPN
|Height||6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
|Weight||198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)|
|Asia League team
|Nikkō Ice Bucks
Bakersfield Condors (ECHL)
Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Reading Royals (ECHL)
Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)
Kokudo Tokyo (Asia League)
|NHL Draft||238th overall, 2004
Los Angeles Kings
|Men's ice hockey|
|Competitor for Japan|
|Silver||2011 Astana-Almaty||Ice hockey|
Yutaka Fukufuji (福藤 豊 Fukufuji Yutaka , born September 17, 1982) is a Japanese ice hockey player currently with the Nikko Ice Bucks of the Asia League Ice Hockey. Fukufuji was the first Japanese player to appear in a National Hockey League game. He is the first Japanese citizen to be drafted as a goaltender in the NHL and second Japanese national to be drafted.
Fukufuji was born in Kushiro, Hokkaidō, Japan. He played on the Kokudo hockey team of Asia League Ice Hockey in 2001. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2004 entry draft in the 8th round, 238th overall. He made his North American debut on February 7, 2003 with the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. He was voted the ECHL rookie of the month in January 2003. He played for the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL in 2004–05 leading the team in wins, GAA, and shutouts. Fukufuji signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings in August 2005. After starting the 2005–06 season with the Reading Royals, the Kings ECHL franchise, Yutaka was the number 2 goalie on the AHL Manchester Monarchs for a time.
When goaltender Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with a broken finger, Fukufuji was again recalled and flew in from Cleveland, Ohio to dress as backup to goalie Barry Brust. On January 13, 2007, Fukufuji made his first NHL appearance, the first by a Japanese player, when Kings head coach Marc Crawford decided to put him in to start the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues. Fukufuji entered the game with the Kings trailing 5-4. He allowed one goal in the period, and the Kings also scored one goal while he was in net. The final score of the game was 6-5 in favor of St. Louis; as Fukufuji was the goaltender who allowed the decisive sixth St. Louis goal, he was assessed the loss.
Fukufuji was not presented with a qualifying offer by the Kings before the 2007–08 season, but returned to the Condors on September 10, 2007 after signing a contract for the 2007–08 season.
On May 25, 2009, Fukufuji was signed by the Destil Trappers of the Eredivisie, the top league in the Netherlands. After one full season with Destil Trappers Fukufuji signed with Nikko Ice Bucks on July, 2010.
Career statistics 
|2006-07||Los Angeles Kings||NHL||4||96||7||0||0||4.37||0||3||0||36||0.837|
- Grossman, Evan (2007-03-14). "NHL Insider: When It Comes To Hockey, It's A Small World". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2007-08-01.[dead link] The first Japanese draft pick, Hiroyuki Miura, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Draft, but never played in an NHL game. A fictional Japanese player, Taro Tsujimoto, was a name "plucked out of the Buffalo telephone book" as a joke in 1974 by Buffalo Sabres GM Punch Imlach.
- Matsuda, Gann (2007-02-21). "Fukufuji Proud Of Season As He Looks Forward". Rafu Shimpo. p. 2 (story not available on Rafu Shimpo web site, but is reprinted with permission on Frozen Royalty.
- Wigge, Larry (2007-01-16). "Kings Goalie Is First Native Japanese Player In The NHL". National Hockey League. Retrieved 2007-08-01.[dead link]
- Griffith, Mike (2007-09-11). "Condors 'Delighted' At Fukufuji's Return". Bakersfield Californian. Retrieved 2007-09-25.[dead link]
- "Trappers sign Japanese goalie". Destil Trappers. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-05-31.[dead link]
- "Team | Hc Nikko Ice Bucks". Icebucks.jp. Retrieved 2012-08-30.