On Jan. 18, 1958, Willie O’Ree suited up for the Boston Bruins and took the ice against the Montreal Canadiens, making him the first Black player in NHL history. O’Ree opened the door for other players of colour to follow in his tracks. Names such as P.K Subban, Jarome Iginla, Wayne Simmons, and Quinton Byfield, the highest-drafted black players of all time, have been starting to show that hockey is for everyone.
Over the years, there have seen several black players who have dawned the Carolina Hurricanes red sweater. In honour of Black History Month, we will profile those players during February. The second on the list is a player who spent just 10 games with the Hurricanes in the 2006-07 season and like Kevin Weekes, went on to become an NHL analyst. This former Hurricane being, Anson Carter.
Carter was born on June 6, 1974, in the Scarborough neighbourhood of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the son of Barbadian immigrants Horace and Valma Carter. Young Carter didn’t start playing hockey seriously until he was eight. He set a goal for himself at a young age, and that was to become a doctor and thought that the best way for him to achieve that was to get into a top American college with a scholarship to play hockey. That is exactly what he did. In 1992, Carter started at Michigan State University where he enrolled in the pre-med program.
That same year, he had been drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, 220th-overall, but he opted instead to go the college route. What he did not expect was to begin to really excel in the sport while at MSU. In four seasons at university, he averaged 26.5 goals per season and eighteen assists. His best season came in 1994-95 when he scored 34 goals and seventeen assists. Following that season, he was named a Second Team All-American and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy. In his four years at Michigan, he was named as a CCHA First Team All-Star twice and to the second team once.
Making it to the NHL
During his tenure at university, the Nordiques had moved to Colorado becoming the Colorado Avalanche. They were a team stacked with veterans and Carter knew that he would have never made the line-up, so he asked for a trade. At the end of his last collegiate season, Carter became a Washington Capital. In that first season, he split time between the American Hockey League’s Portland Pirates and the Capitals.
In 27 games with the Pirates, he scored nineteen goals and had nineteen assists. At that point he got the call-up to join the Capitals. In nineteen games, he had only scored three goals, so on March 1, 1997, he was traded to the Boston Bruins along with Jim Carey, Jason Allison and a third-round choice in the 1997 Entry-Draft. Carter found out about the trade when he saw it on the news while he was out having dinner.
“I had gone to see Carter at Portland, and he made sure I came back. He skated stronger than anyone else, and every time he was in a collision, he came out on top. We had a few players we needed to get from Washington to give up the players we gave up. Anson was at the top of our list.”Gerry Cheevers
With Boston out of the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Carter was able to represent Team Canada at the World Champions. In eleven games, he had four goals and two assists and helped Canada bring home gold.
Carter would go on to spend the next three seasons with the Bruins, impressing in each season he played. In the four seasons he wore the B on his chest, he helped the team get to the playoffs twice. In the 1998-99 season, his double-overtime game-winning goal helped lift the Bruins over the Carolina Hurricanes and putting them into the Conference Semifinals. Although they ended up losing to the Buffalo Sabres, Carter still had four goals and three assists in the twelve games he played.
Turn of the Century
On Nov. 15, 2000, the Bruins traded Carter along with their 2001 first-round and second-round draft picks to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Bill Guerin and future considerations. He would play for them for the next three seasons. While with the Oilers, during the 2001-02 season, Carter would get a career-high 32 assists on the season.
On March 11, 2003, Edmonton traded Carter along with Aleš Piša to the New York Rangers in exchange for Radek Dvořák and Cory Cross and he played eleven games that season with the Rangers.
Following the 2002-03 season, with the Rangers not making the playoffs, Carter was selected to join Team Canada for a second time at the 2003 World Championships. Canada had not won a gold medal since 1997 and were hungry to win it again. The gold medal game against Sweden went into overtime when Carter scored with a wraparound goal. Team Sweden challenged it, but it was ultimately discovered that the goalie had stopped the puck behind the goal line, giving Canada the win and the gold medal.
The next season, he would return to the Rangers but would be traded that January back to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Jaromír Jágr. His time with the Capitals would only last 19 games and in March he would be on the move again, this time across the country to join the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for Jared Aulin.
Post NHL Lockout
Carter was one of the players who decided not to go overseas to play during the 2004-05 lockout. When the 2005-06 season started he signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks. His time with the Canucks would go on to be his best NHL season. While playing on the ‘Brothers Line’ with Henrik and Daniel Sedin, he set a career-high 33 goals, which led the Canucks that season. The Canucks have annual team awards, and Carter won the Most Exciting Player Award for the 2005-06 season.
To start the 2006-07 season, he signed a one-year deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets but was traded for the last time on Feb. 23, 2007, to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2008 fifth-round draft pick. He finished the season with the Hurricanes, playing ten games and scoring one goal in that time.
Carter had joined the Hurricanes at a time when they needed to strengthen their forward lines. They had recently recalled Ryan Bayda after Cory Stillman had suffered a knee injury that sidelined him for the season.
“Anson is a veteran NHL player who has had some good goal-scoring years in his career. He will help strengthen our forward corps at a much-needed time.”Jim Rutherford on signing Anson Carter
Carter would play out the remainder of his one-year contract with the Hurricanes before signing a try-out contract with the Edmonton Oilers. He would play in one exhibition game with them before being released. His last year as a professional hockey player would come with HC Lugano of the Swiss Nationalliga A.
Outside of Hockey
In 2005, Carter founded the recording label Big Up Entertainment. In 2012, he started as a hockey analyst for college hockey on ESPN and has continued to be an analyst ever since. He has been an analyst for the LA Kings, a studio analyst for NBC Sports during the NHL regular season and the World Hockey Championships, Currently, he divides his time as a co-host of the MSG Hockey Show and the NHL on TNT.
Most recently, Carter has partnered with Chase Bank to create a Black Hockey Mobile History Museum so that kids of colour have the chance to experience hockey and have it come to a place near them.
Carter had a great career, playing with some of the most well-known and well-respected teams in the league. Even though his time as a Hurricane was short, he will always remain a member of the franchise. In his retirement, he has done a lot to promote inclusion and diversity within the hockey world and with the Black Hockey History Mobile Museum, kids from all walks of life will be able to discover the storied history of former and current players of colour.
On her previous stint with The Hockey Writers, Casey covered the Tampa Bay Lightning, but she has returned to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. Even though she is Steel City born, a former season ticker member with the Lightning, and lives in Orlando, the Canes have always been her favourite team. She started her hockey career as Keeper of Time for the California University of Pennsylvania Vulcan Hockey Club while going to school for Sport Management. She hopes to one day work with Hockey Ministries International as a team chaplain. You can usually find her tweeting about hockey or posting pictures on Instagram.