CHICAGO — Suzuki and Yamamoto are not names that show up often on the back of National Hockey League (NHL) jerseys.
But teenagers Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto — both picked in the first round of June’s 2017 NHL draft in Chicago — may be the start of a new trend.
This year’s draft was historic, with Suzuki, Yamamoto, and Jason Robertson plucked in the first two rounds, the most Asian Americans to ever go that high in a single NHL draft according to William Douglas, a journalist from The Color of Hockey, which tracks diversity in the sport.
“Asian-American players have gone high in the NHL draft before,” Douglas told NBC News. “But this is a first time that you've had such a cluster of players drafted in the early rounds.”
Condition: Pre-owned :An item that has been used or worn previously. See the seller’s listing for full details and description of any imperfections.See all condition definitions- opens in a new window or tab Seller Notes: “Deep cut on flaps of both boots.”
Style: Workwear CTCP Pattern: N/A US Shoe Size (Men's): 10 D(M) US Country/Region of Manufacture: China Width: See Size UPC:
Does not applyGentleman/Lady Womens Chacos Size 10 Boots Quality queen New style Most practical,
"It's definitely a big opportunity. I want to show everybody you can do it, no matter what."
Sooner than later, this might become the norm. As the Asian population has grown in United States and Canada, more and more Asian kids have taken up ice hockey, according to a team executive.
During the 2015-2016 season, 983 players appeared in a regular season NHL game, according to statistics from NHL.com. Just four of them — Matt Dumba, Devin Setoguchi, Jujhar Khaira, and Joshua Ho-Sang — appear to be of Asian descent.
"We've seen an increase in the number of players who have Asian heritage," Mike Oke — general manager of the Peterborough Petes, which play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) — said. The OHL is one of the NHL's primary feeder leagues.
"It's definitely kind of a big step for the community," Suzuki, who was selected 13th overall by the Vegas Golden Knights and scored a goal in the new franchise’s first pre-season game in September, told NBC News.
Suzuki grew up in London, Ontario, a city halfway between Toronto and Detroit.
According to his father, Suzuki’s great-great-grandparents immigrated to Canada in 1909. They, along with Suzuki's great-grandparents and grandfather were incarcerated in Kaslo, British Columbia, during World War II.
"From a Canadian perspective, some of the hockey players today, their parents immigrated to Canada, either as young teens or as adults, and therefore, weren't exposed to the game of hockey at a young age," Oke, the hockey executive, said. "Whereas now, the second and third generation of individuals who immigrated have been born and raised and inundated with the game of hockey."
HAIX BROWN COMBAT GORETEX BOOTS - SIZE 8 WIDE - GRADE 1 USED - DFN1808,Rockport Mens Black Work & Safety Boots Size 12 (420520),Northwest Territory US Mens 11 D Brown Green Snowboot Double Insulate Thinsulate,Mens Z.E.P.H.Y.R Steel Toe Safety Work Boot 'ZX17',Men's Cognac Brown Round Toe Crocodile Tail Cut Design Leather Cowboy Boots,Man's/Woman's Mens Cole Haan Shoes 10.5 Great variety Clearance Very good classification,Tony Lama Lizard Men's Brown Western Boots 8 D,Justin Black Leather Roper Cowboy Western Boots Mens Size 7 D Style L3133 USA,Stivali da pioggia per Bambini Super Wings 6186 (taglia 29) I0010_S0705068,CMP CAMPAGNOLO SNOWBOOTS BÉBÉ CMP HANKI - BLU-34Tommy Hilfiger Daytona 2b Essential Hombres Midnight Navy Ante BotinesMr/Ms Men's leather dress casual shoes Exquisite (middle) workmanship Impeccable Immediate deliveryGentleman/Lady LUGZ Golden Wheat low-cut Men's Boots Economical and practical Ranked first in its class Seasonal promotion,Mr/Ms Spot On Uomo Con Lacci Stivaletto Various styles buy Great choice,Vintage Childrens "Sturdy Walkers" 1960's New in Box,Frankie Model shoes casual boots leather men shoes men 40 41 42 43 44 45,Harley-Davidson Men's Midland Black or Grey WP Motorcycle Boots D96165 D96166,Uomo Spot On VERDE allacciate scarpe di tela X0001,Salopette da Lavoro Pantaloni di Fabbro Giardiniere Pittore Abbigliamento Planam,Element Preston Mens Chocolate Suede Chukka Boots - 9 UKBULLBOXER Chelsea Boots Stiefelette Gr.37 wild flock schwarz/camel,Hi-Tec Hombre Con Cordones Botas de seguridad safehike Medio,Red Wing DynaForce 8 Inch Work Boot Electrical Hazard CSA Steel Toe 4200Dr. Martens Icon 2228 Black Safety Work Boots with Steel Toe CapRocky Mens Brown Black Leather Suede Upper Tall Rain Duck Boots Size 9Nunn Bush 1960 black leather side zip Beatle boots sz 10 mensYWing Mens STW06 Steel Toe Safety Leather Work Boots,MENS KAMIK GREENBAY 4 BLACK SIZE 13 NIB,Uomo Hx London HX01T Slip On Stivaletti Elastico Laterale,Freezer Work Boot Zip Polar Gator Cool Room GP2404 Safety Toe + FREE warm hoodie,
"I'm glad we're getting our culture out," Yamamoto, whose name was called by the Edmonton Oilers with the 22nd pick, said.
According to Yamamoto’s father, three generations of Yamamotos were born and raised in Spokane, Washington, including Kailer and himself. Before the Yamamotos settled in the Pacific Northwest, Saichi Yamamoto immigrated from Okinawa to Hawaii, meeting his wife Momoyo. Both Saichi and Momoyo Yamamoto were incarcerated during World War II.
Unlike Nick Suzuki and Kailer Yamamoto, Jason Robertson, whose mother is of Filipino descent, did not grow up in a hockey hotbed. He was born and raised in the city of Arcadia in Southern California.
"I love hockey, I want everybody to be part of it," Robertson, who went 39th overall to the Dallas Stars, said.
"From an American perspective, the sport has really outgrown what used to be the traditional pockets. In the past, hockey was typically played in some of the colder climate states," Oke noted. "But now, with the expansion of the NHL into the southern climes such as California and Nevada and Arizona and Texas and Florida — you have people in those particular areas, for the first time, able to participate from a young age."
Combined, those states have an Asian-American population of more than six million people, according to data from the 2010 U.S. Census, nearly a third of the country’s Asian-American population.
"It's been a coast for me," Yamamoto said, smiling. "Everywhere I've gone, people have treated me with utmost respect."
"Whoever you are, whatever you are, it all comes down to hard work and dedication," Robertson said.
“Asian-American players have gone high in the NHL draft before. But this is a first time that you've had such a cluster of players drafted in the early rounds.”
But at least one aspect of their careers is similar to Kwong and Paek. Each is proud of being an example for Asian-American kids who don't have a lot of role models in the sport.
"It's definitely a big opportunity," acknowledged Suzuki. "I want to show everybody you can do it, no matter what."
They're already influencing their siblings: 16-year-old Ryan Suzuki and 15-year-old Nick Robertson were both selected in the first round of the most recent OHL Priority Selection, held on April 8. This junior-level draft is often a precursor to the NHL edition.
So it’s possible there will be more Suzukis, Yamamotos, and Robertsons banging down the door of the NHL soon.
“This isn't a one-shot deal,” Douglas, the journalist, said.
Suzuki concurs, "There's definitely a lot [of Asians] coming up."
CORRECTION (Sept. 27, 2017, 3:10 p.m.): An earlier version of this article misstated Nick Suzuki's relationship with the members of his family who immigrated to Canada. Suzuki's great-great-grandparents immigrated, not his great-grandparents.