January 21, 2007
Written by C.N.
First, there was baseball, then football, then basketball. Now the Japanese have hit all four major professional sports — as CNN/Sports Illustrated reports, Yutaka Fukufuji just became the first Japanese hockey player to play in the National Hockey League:
Fukufuji entered to start the third in relief of Barry Brust. He faced five shots, but allowed Wideman’s goal 7:32 into the period. Brust allowed five goals in the first two periods. The 24-year-old Fukufuji was recalled Friday on an emergency basis after Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with an injured finger.
Fukufuji became the first Japanese player to dress for an NHL game Dec. 16 against Dallas in another emergency stint. “I was so nervous,” he said. “But I was very excited, too.”
Upon further research at AsianAthlete.com and NHL.com, I found out that Fukufuji (who plays for Los Angeles Kings) is not even the first Asian player in the NHL. I already knew that the NHL had at least one Asian American player — Paul Kariya. But AsianAthlete.com lists several Asian and Asian American players who have played or are still playing professional hockey.
Wow, even I can learn something new every day . . .
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "First Japanese Professional Hockey Player" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/01/first-japanese-professional-hockey-player/> ().
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