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 Simmonds, 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 final player on the list is a player who spent two seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes between the 2010-12 seasons, that player being Derek Joslin.
Joslin grew up in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada, a suburb about thirty minutes north of Toronto to Darlene and Jeff Joslin. He started playing hockey young at the age of four when he started playing with the Oak Ridges Kings. He was coached by his father Jeff, who had once played for the Peterborough Pete’s of the Ontario Hockey. League (OHL) and had played in the era of Wayne Gretzky, Adam Oates, and Paul Coffey. Jeff coached both Derek and his sister, Jamie, all through their youth. In 2003, Derek would on to play in the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament, putting him on his way to one day getting drafted into the OHL.
That day came in 2003 when he was picked in the 10th-round, 200th overall by the Ottawa 67’s. That fall he would make his major junior debut playing in seven games with the 67’s. Joslin would spend most of that first season with the Aurora Junior B Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OHL), but the next season he started with the 67’s and would go on to score six goals and 24 assists for the seasons. The 67’s would also see the playoffs that year, where Joslin played 21 games and got three assists during that time.
In the 2005 off-season, he was drafted by the San Jose Sharks in the fifth-round 149th overall. Joslin didn’t immediately make the jump to the professional leagues. He stayed in the OHL for another season and managed to score eleven goals and 37 assists. He also got his first glimpse of the American Hockey League (AHL) when he played in two games with the now-defunct Cleveland Barons. He played the 2006-07 season with the 67’s and got to join the new Sharks affiliate, Worcester Sharks, for three games.
The Big Leagues
Following his final OHL season, Joslin joined the Worcester Sharks full-time for the 2007-08 season where he played all 80 games with the team getting a career-high 10 goals and 24 assists. In the 2008-09 season, he was the last player cut from the San Jose Sharks training camp but was called back up to the team in Jan. 2009 after Douglas Murray went out with an injury.
The 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons would be split between Worcester and San Jose. In the 2010-11 season, he started with the Sharks playing in 17 games and getting his first NHL goal against Andrew Raycroft of the Dallas Stars on Dec. 13, 2010. He spent many games as a healthy scratch until a February trade sent him to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for future considerations.
In the seventeen games he had in Carolina that season, he scored one goal and four assists. In the off-season, the Hurricanes agreed to a two-year deal with Joslin with the plan to keep him on the roster full-time.
While he did end up staying with the Hurricanes, playing only four games with the Charlotte Checkers, he was a regular healthy scratch by Coach Kirk Muller. With the need for a forward, Muller moved Joslin to the forward lines, playing him at left wing playing on a line with centre, Tim Brent, and right wing, Anthony Stewart. Thanks to the move, he played 44 games with the Hurricanes and finished the season with two goals and two assists.
Life After the NHL
After the 2011-12 season, the Hurricanes bought out the last year of Joslin’s contract and he became an unrestricted free agent, allowing him to sign with the Vancouver Canucks. He would be placed with then-AHL affiliate, Chicago Wolves, and play in 53 games there before he was sent to the Worcester Sharks.
At the end of the 2012-13 season, the Canucks did not choose to resign Joslin and he decided to head over to Europe and try his luck with the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). In his first year in Europe, he played with the Allmänna Idrottsklubben Ishockeyförening (AIK IF) where he played 54 games scoring five goals and eighteen assists.
Following his one season in Switzerland, Joslin moved onto the Deutsche Eishockey League (DEL), choosing to sign with the Nürnberg Ice Tigers. His next DEL club came in the form of the Eishockey Club (EHC) Red Bull München, the reigning champions of the DEL. Joslin helped them to reach the finals in each season, getting two DEL Championship titles in the process.
When his time with EHC München was up, he moved onto the Austria and joined the International Central European Hockey League (ICEHL) where he spent one season with the EHC affiliated, EC Red Bull Salzburg.
Today, Joslin is still playing in the ICEHL but has moved onto the Villacher SV located in Villach, Austria. In 44 games this season he has one goal and nineteen assists. Even though the ICEHL is miles away from the NHL, Joslin will always be able to remember his time skating on NHL ice. He may not have played for the Hurricanes for long, but he will forever remain a Carolina Hurricane.
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.