In honor of Black History Month, we’ll be taking a look at all of the black players who have donned a Minnesota Wild jersey over their 22-year existence. They’ve had a number of players come through their system, though, some have stayed longer than others. Two players, in particular, have been making an impact on the team for the last few seasons, Jordan Greenway and Matt Dumba.
Dumba has been doing important work for a group he started called the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) that promotes diversity at all levels of hockey, its current campaign has been #tapeouthate, which helps raise money for the HDA. Those two are the current players, but the first black players who played for the Wild were back in 2006-07.
Shawn Belle (2006-07)
Shawn Belle played one season for the Wild that included nine games and one assist for one point. He spent most of his time with the Wild’s American Hockey League (AHL) team at the time, the Houston Aeros. His best season with them was the same season he spent some time in the NHL, as he played 57 games for the Aeros and scored four goals and 14 assists for 18 points.
He was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round, 30th overall back in 2003. Before he joined the Wild, he was traded from the Blues to the Dallas Stars where he spent a little over a season before he was traded once again and landed with the Wild. He then went on to be traded to two other teams before his time in the NHL ended.
Joel Ward (2006-07)
Joel Ward spent nearly the same amount of time with the Wild as Belle did. He played 11 games and tallied a single assist for one point. He spent most of that season with the Aeros where he tallied 23 points. However, after his time with the Wild, his career really took off. He was signed by the Nashville Predators in the summer of 2008 and that’s where he showed what he was truly capable of.
In his best season with the Predators, he played 79 games and tallied 35 points. That wasn’t his best season either, he went on to play for the Washington Capitals next. His best campaign with the Capitals also contained a career-high in points as he played all 82 games and scored 49 points. The very last team he played for in the NHL was the San Jose Sharks.
He spent three seasons with them, and even as his career started to wind down, he played well. His best season with the Sharks was his first with them, as he played 79 games and tallied 43 points. A few years later, he left the NHL and now coaches in the AHL. He is one of two players on this list who went undrafted but went on to have a successful career.
Robbie Earl (2009-11)
Robbie Earl had a great career with the University of Wisconsin before he made the jump to the NHL. His first season in the NHL was spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played nine games with them and had one assist before he jumped to the Wild a few seasons later. He was traded to them by the Maple Leafs in 2009 and spent two seasons in Minnesota before heading overseas to finish his career.
In his best season with the Wild, he played 32 games and scored six goals for six points overall. He spent most of his time in the AHL after being drafted by the Maple Leafs in the sixth round, 187th overall in 2004. He was still playing all the way up until last season.
Chris Stewart (2014-18)
Chris Stewart was with several teams before he made it to the Wild. He first joined the Colorado Avalanche where he spent three seasons, his best one consisting of 77 games played where he scored 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. He was then traded to the St. Louis Blues by the Avalanche and spent four seasons there. He scored 48 goals and recorded 36 points for his best season with the Blues.
Stewart then bounced from team to team. He spent two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, one with the Wild, one with the Anaheim Ducks, before returning to Minnesota. His second stint was definitely better than the first. He played 79 games and tallied 21 points for his best season with them. He then moved on to both the Calgary Flames and Philadelphia Flyers before leaving the NHL a couple of seasons ago.
He was drafted by the Avalanche in the first round, 18th overall in 2006. The most notable thing about his career was his high number of penalty minutes as he was known as a very physical player.
J.T. Brown (2018-19)
J.T. Brown is the only player on the list who was born in Minnesota. He was born in Burnsville and went on to play in college for the University of Minnesota-Duluth. He then joined the Tampa Bay Lightning where he played six seasons. In his best season, he played 78 games and accumulated 22 points. Once his tenure was up with the Lightning he moved on to the Ducks and then the Wild.
Brown was with the Wild for one season, where he played 56 games and tallied eight points. He played in the AHL for a couple of seasons and then played one overseas before he joined the Seattle Kraken as a TV analyst this past summer.
Matt Dumba (2013-Current)
Wild fans know this name as he’s been a steady presence on their blueline for almost a decade. Dumba has had some injury issues the last couple of seasons along with the COVID issues that have affected the NHL as a whole. His best season was in 2017-18 when he played in all 82 games and tallied 50 points. Since that season he’s been recording point totals in the 20s.
Dumba is one of the Wild’s most offensive defensemen and has contributed some game-winning goals along the way. This season he has played 40 games and tallied 20 points. He’s currently out due to an injury but hopefully, he’ll be back soon to get the blue line back to what it was.
Jordan Greenway (2017- current)
Otherwise known as “Big Rig”, Greenway has been a very physical presence for the Wild since he joined them nearly five seasons ago. He’s not a huge point producer yet but he’s improved his game each season and has found a permanent spot in the lineup alongside Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek. Last season was his best yet, as he played in 56 games and recorded 32 points.
So far this season, Greenway has played 41 games and tallied 14 points. Like Dumba, he’s had injury issues that have affected his point totals. He may be out for some time with this injury, as it required an MRI and it hasn’t been stated how long he’ll be out for.
The Wild have had seven black players over their 22 years, two of them currently still with the team and contributing to the lineup every night they play. Hopefully, with Dumba’s Diversity Alliance, there will be more black players not only on the Wild’s roster but throughout the NHL in the very near future.
Mariah Holland is a contributing Minnesota Wild writer for THW. She’s been covering the Wild at THW since October of 2020 and specializes in game takeaways and weekly check-ins. She is always looking for different angles to cover the Wild and dig deeper into the stories surrounding the team to help fans connect on a more personal level and to keep an eye on the latest follow her on Twitter @MariahEStark.