Scenes from Washington Capitals’ Black History Night

Photos: Capitals

The Washington Capitals celebrated Black History Night on Monday as they hosted the Toronto Maple Leafs at Capital One Arena. The evening honored the organization’s history, celebrated Black achievement in hockey, and highlighted how the Capitals are working to further grow the game in the region.

During warmups, Capitals players wore special black warmup jerseys with a Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club shoulder patch in honor of the Fort Dupont Cannons. The jerseys will be signed and auctioned off along with signed pucks commemorating Black History Month and other items to benefit the Capital Impact Fund. Hosted by Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, the fundraiser is now open at washCaps.com/bhm-auction and concludes Wednesday, March 2, at 3 PM ET.

The Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club (also known as the Cannons) is part of the National Hockey League’s Hockey is for Everyone Program and is the oldest minority hockey program in North America. Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, founded in 1978 by Coach Neal Henderson, is a developmental program that provides local and inner-city youth with the opportunity to participate in an organized ice hockey program. The Cannons play out of the Fort Dupont Ice Arena located in Southeast D.C.

To date, the Cannons home rink has been the Fort Dupont Ice Arena, the only full-size indoor ice arena in Washington, D.C. With the facility slated to close in February and construction on a new rink to begin, the Capitals are honoring Fort Dupont Ice Arena and the Cannons throughout February.

Video: Capitals

Capitals alumnus Bill Riley and his granddaughter Kryshanda Green participated in a ceremonial puck drop.

Riley made his NHL debut with the Capitals in 1974, becoming the first Black Nova Scotian to play in the NHL and the third Black player to play in the league. In 125 games with the Capitals, Riley recorded 28 goals and 28 assists.

Green is the former and first Black captain of the Ryerson University Rams women’s hockey team. While at Ryerson, Green broke the all-time points and assists records. She graduated from Ryerson with a B.A. in politics and governance and currently serves on the NHL’s Youth Hockey Inclusion Council.

Riley and captain Alex Ovechkin convened before tonight’s game:

During the game, players wore special helmet decals featuring Henderson’s likeness in honor of his contributions to hockey. In 2019, Henderson became the first Black individual to be inducted into the US Hockey Hall of Fame.

Photo: @Capitals

Fans are encouraged to visit the Capitals Black Hockey History Display, which was unveiled in February. The permanent display is located at section 116 on the main concourse and features:

  • Memorabilia including a 1975-76 home jersey worn by Mike Marson (1974-79), a game-used stick by Joel Ward (2011-15), and a game-worn helmet by Devante Smith-Pelly (2017-19).
  • A warmup jersey featuring a Players Against Hate end racism shoulder patch. Capitals players wore and auctioned off the jerseys during the February 25, 2021, Black History Night.
  • A timeline featuring Black players and key moments in Capitals history.
  • An interactive QR code that drives visitors to washcaps.com/blackhockey, featuring additional information to learn about the Capitals’ commitment to diversity, honoring Black players in history, community partners, resources, and more.

In 2020, the Capitals organization and MSE Foundation created the Capital Impact Fund to provide grants to organizations that can assist in eliminating cost barriers faced by individuals of color in the hockey community. The Washington Capitals and MSE Foundation Capital Impact Fund Grant will provide financial support to local nonprofit organizations dedicated to further advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in hockey.

Visit the Capitals Black Hockey microsite for information on Capitals specific and league-wide initiatives. The site also highlights Black athletes who have played with the organization, including detailed player biographies. In addition to highlighting specific programs and diversity initiatives, the site contains information on youth programs throughout the region and links to resource materials on Black hockey.

Additionally, some local youth teams are in attendance including the Baltimore Banners:

By Della Young

About Della Young

Della Young is an aspiring novelist and screenwriter who earned a BFA in Creative Writing from Full Sail University in 2021. She comes from a family of big Capitals fans and became inspired to start writing for hockey in 2019. In her spare time, Della enjoys traveling, cooking, and working on both sides of the camera. Follow Della on Twitter: @dellayoung
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