Latinos have played a big role in the evolution of sports. Sure, many are aware of their accomplishments in sports like baseball, soccer, boxing and most recently basketball. But one sport that rarely makes headlines or gets the proverbial water-cooler talk when it comes to Latino’s is hockey.
Scott Gomez made history in 1998 when he became the first Hispanic player to be drafted by the National Hockey League (New Jersey Devils, 27th overall). After a stint the minors, Gomez got called up to the Devils roster in 1999 and would play until 2016. He finished his career with 181 goals, and 575 assists (756 points). More importantly, he paved the way for today’s Latino players who are now making an impact. With a new NHL season about to be underway, here are the players who will no doubt make their presence felt during the 2016-2017 campaign….
Auston Matthews – Center, Toronto Maple Leafs
Don’t let the last name fool you, Matthews is Mexican on his mother’s side and speaks Spanish. If you’ve never heard of Matthews, here’s why. The 19-year-old rookie was drafted 1st overall by Toronto in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. The California native got the NHL’s attention while playing in the USHL, Team USA’s Under-18 squad, and the Switzerland National League. His 24 total amateur goals and speed skating ability made him a hot commodity. Despite his youth, there’s a very good chance that he’ll make Toronto’s regular season roster. The Leafs are in the midst of a rebuild and they want Matthews to eventually be the new face of the franchise.