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: New with box: A brand-new, unused, and unworn item (including handmade items) in the original packaging (such as ... Read moreabout the condition Upper Material: Textile Lining: Synthetic/Faux Fur Brand:
Style: Slipper Product ID: Utah Sole: Synthetic MPN:
Does Not Apply
Main Colour: Brown Country/Region of Manufacture: United KingdomMaxx Dry GripOns Traction For All Winter Conditions Unisex Medium,
"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."
Brahma 4 men steel toe workout athletic shoes Cruize oil & slip resistant size 8,Clarks Addington Men Size Black Leather Shoes,Kenneth Cole Reaction What I Got Black And Gray Size 13 M High TopsPolo Ralph Lauren Woodley Leather Moccasins Mens Size 7 D Brown Loafers ShoesATOME EDISON at027-m hommes jaune / Beige Baskets x 11 (R23B),New With Box Lugz Mens Black Canvas Clipper Shoes Sneakers MCLIPRC-001 Size 10.5,Aeropostale Mens Striped Canvas Comfort Boat Shoes,Todd Barnes Mens Black Shoes Size 8,Man/Woman Mens Harrykson Casual Shoes PE20138 Quality queen Pleasant appearance Cost-effectivePolo Ralph Lauren Mens 9.5D Faxon Low Royal Blue Canvas Yellow Pony EUCNUSHU MENS WHEAT COLOR LEATHER CASUAL/WALKING SHOE SIZE USED VGC,Base London para Hombre Crema Botas de Lona " Lilo "_xdc97__xd83d_MINT,Portwest - Classic Work Safety Wellington S4UOMO MAVERICK scarpe casual modello - A2080,American Classic DeLaRentis Slip On Loafers Shoes Mens Size 10.5M Brown AC-1103,Gentleman/Lady Van's Mens shoes size 7 Modern technology fashionable buy online,Merrell Jungle Moc Slip On Nubuck Brown (J60831) SIZE 11.5Mens Projekts NYC Blade Mid Black Shoes RRP. .99,Ralph Lauren Polo Men Canvas Casual Gray Shoe Size US 9.5 D,Sandro Moscoloni Mens La Villa Woven Cognac Brown Leather Slip On Shoes Sz 9.5,Man's/Woman's UOMO MAVERICK con lacci Ballerine Queensland Ranked first in its class Different styles and stylesMen's Shoe Loafers Moccasins Leather Casual Slip on Driving Shoes Big Size,Juicy footwear Casual Comfort Slip On Round toe flat Women's Shoe's,MOSSIMO Men's Size 10 Casual Low Top Dark Green Shoes #B497,Draven Side Tweed Men's Brown Slip On Shoes Canvas Loafers Plaid Punk RockerDockers Pro Style Cognac Leather Oxford All Motion Comfort Shoes Men Sz 9,Mens Air Tech Trainers; The Style Frontier -w,10 Pairs Adult Actifresh Insoles Latex Foam Shoe Size 5 Anti Bacteria,MENS BLACK BRICKERS SMART CHELSEA DEALER POINTED ANKLE BOOTS WORK SHOES,
"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.