NHL Studio Analyst
Kevin Weekes and I first met back in 1991 in Kamloops BC, at the one of the best Bantam tournaments in the country (Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament), best known by its acronym KIBHIT…
Ex NHL Player, Current NHL Analyst
Episode 22. Season 1. June.21 2020
At the time I was playing for the stacked Sherwood Park Flyers and more than halfway through the season we had not lost a game, but the Toronto Red Wings and Kevin Weekes were the talk of the tournament.
The Toronto Red Wings traveled a long way to be there and we heard they were a powerhouse, but they also had a lightning quick BLACK goalie that drew much of the conversation.
Before the tournament even started, it seemed destined for us to meet in the final, and both teams lived up to the hype. Although I managed to get one past Kevin on a partial breakaway in the second period, it was not enough, and Toronto ended up besting us 4-3. Mr. Weekes and the Red Wings handed us our first loss of the season and they took the tournament title.
Given the current social climate and the BLM movement, this conversation with Kevin provided me the opportunity to revisit the KIBHIT tournament and my personal reaction at 14 years old to Kevin being black. Like many other players from the rural west, I had never competed against a black player to that point. A hockey rink was not a place where I was familiar with seeing people of color.
My acknowledgment and curiosity were innocent and innocuous. Unfortunately for Kevin, that wasn’t always the case.
Kevin drew attention.
The color of Kevin’s skin made him different – so did his athleticism in the net. He was damn good.
People were always watching. Most were supporters, some were detractors, but Kevin knew from an early age that he was ALWAYS auditioning.
This conversation allowed me to contemplate the gravity of what it might have been like to be Kevin Weekes as a hockey player. His experience was unquestionably much different than mine.
Not only did he play the most isolating position in the sport, but he was often the only black player in the locker room.
Years after KIBHIT, Kevin and I got drafted by the Florida Panthers where we became teammates and friends and I got to witness Kevin daily and he earned my respect and my admiration.
Kevin has earned respect throughout our great game from all levels of the sport. He is respected for is reverence and knowledge of the game. For is journeyman 11 year NHL career with 7 different teams and his pivotal contribution to the Carolina Hurricanes run to the 2002 Stanley Cup final. He is respected for being a trailblazer and the first black analyst in the history of the sport and his ability as a broadcaster to connect the fans to the person behind their favorite player. For his dedication and commitment to constantly improve and master his craft. And most importantly, Kevin is respected because he respects EVERYONE he meets. In my opinion Kevin Weekes has a Master’s Degree in what he calls, Human 101.
Given recent events surrounding our game and the events surrounding our country, Kevin has been a rational and experienced voice on the need for change within the game. He is campaigning for greater access, for greater inclusion, and for people of all colors and backgrounds to be welcomed and celebrated within the sport.
Kevin says the NHL should be about putting the best people available in the room and I agree.
And whether you are able to make it to the greatest league in the world, hockey should be a safe place for everyone who plays it at all levels.
Let us take a class in Human 101… please enjoy my conversation with Kevin Weekes.