Former NHL-er Ted Nolan among Indigenous players honoured in new hockey card series
It took 40 years, but former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan is now being honoured with his own hockey trading card as a part of Upper Deck's First Peoples Rookie Card series.
Nolan's professional hockey career as a player spanned from 1978 to 1986, and included stints with the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. He became head coach for the Buffalo Sabres in 1995 and the following season, he was voted the NHL's Coach of the Year, becoming the first Ojibwe man to receive the honour.
"I really wanted to prove that we could still make it. Despite all the obstacles, despite not having the best equipment or training and what have you, you still made it," he told CTV News.
For Nolan, hockey is a family affair, as both of his sons also played in the NHL. His eldest son, Brandon, played for the Carolina Hurricanes while his youngest son, Jordan, is a two-time Stanley Cup winner, having played with the Sabres, Los Angeles Kings and the St. Louis Blues.
"To have a card with my two sons, where Jordan has his rookie card, Brandon has his rookie card, and now I have a rookie card -- even though it's 40 years later -- to have a rookie card with them is special," the elder Nolan said.
The campaign to get Nolan on a hockey card started on social media, spearheaded by Indigenous hockey card collected Naim Cardinal.
"I was having a conversation (on Instagram Live) about my hockey card collection and during that conversation it had come up that there were several players that played in the NHL that didn't have licensed cards or rookie cards," Cardinal told CTV News.
Someone from Upper Deck was listening to his conversation and reached out to Cardinal to right that wrong.
"They said they had an idea and I instantly said yes, and it's been pretty cool since then," Cardinal said.
Upper Deck's Paul Nguyen says the response to the First Peoples cards has been very positive. Other NHL-ers featured on the cards include Jason Simon of the Phoenix Coyotes, Bill Lecaine of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Johnny Harms of the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Is it ever too late to get your own hockey card? I mean, really acknowledging and highlighting people within the community? I didn't think so. So that's why I was like, 'better late than never,'" Nguyen said in an interview with CTV News.
The company is giving the first run of the cards out for free, mostly at Indigenous hockey camps and tournaments.
"I'm just hoping through this card collection that we can be a little bit of inspiration for the next generation coming up," said Nolan.