Montour and Whitecloud lone Indigenous players left to compete for Stanley Cup

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 6:12pm


Image Caption

Golden Knights’ defenceman Zach Whitecloud and Florida Panthers defenceman Brandon Montour are still in the hunt for the Stanley Cup.
By Sam Laskaris
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Updated May 4.

The National Hockey League playoffs are in full swing now.

In fact, the second round of post-season action began May 2.

Eight clubs remain in the hunt to capture one of the world’s most prestigious trophies, the Stanley Cup, when it will be presented next month.

A pair of Canadian franchises, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, are among those that are still playing this spring.

Toronto and Edmonton do not currently have any Indigenous players on their rosters. But both clubs are squaring off against second-round opponents that do.

The Maple Leafs kicked off their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series on May 2 against the Florida Panthers, a team that includes defenceman Brandon Montour, a Mohawk who is from Six Nations of the Grand River in Ontario.

Montour and his teammates downed the host Maple Leafs 4-2 in the series opener. The Panthers also took Game 2 on May 4 in a 3-2 win also in Toronto. Florida will host Game 3 on Sunday.

The Oilers were defeated 6-4 in the opening match of the best-of-seven Western Conference semi-final series on Wednesday May 3 against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas is also hosting Game 2 on Saturday. The Golden Knights’ roster includes defenceman Zach Whitecloud, a member of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether Montour or Whitecloud and their respective teammates will emerge victorious in their current playoffs rounds.

Should they advance, their clubs would still need to capture two more series in order to hoist the Stanley Cup.

Montour, who is 29 and in his 10th pro season, is having a career year. He earned 73 points (16 goals and 57 assists) in 80 regular season matches.

And he’s collected nine points, including six goals, in Florida’s first eight playoff games.

Whitecloud, a 26-year-old who is in his fifth pro season, was credited with 12 points, including five goals, in 59 regular season appearances this year. And he didn’t register a point in Vegas’ five-game opening-round series against the Winnipeg Jets.

Over the years there have been several Indigenous players that have become Stanley Cup champions.

Bryan Trottier, who has Métis, Cree and Chippewa ancestry, leads the way having won the Cup a whopping seven times, six as a player and once as a coach.

Grant Fuhr is next in line as the former goaltender won all five of his Cup championships with the Edmonton Oilers.

Fuhr is not entirely sure of all the facts of his Indigenous ancestry since he was adopted when he was 19 days old. But he knows one of his birth parents was Indigenous.

George Armstrong, who played 21 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs, won four Stanley Cup titles during his career. Armstrong, who had family roots with Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation in Quebec, was the captain of the last Toronto club to win the Cup back in 1967.

Among the last players to win the cup were Jordan Nolan and T.J. Oshie.

Oshie, who has Ojibwe ancestry, was a key contributor for the Washington Capitals when they won the league crown in 2018. Oshie racked up 21 points in 24 post-season games that spring to help lead the Capitals to their one and only Cup title.

Nolan, an Ojibwe from Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario, was on the ice and celebrating after the St. Louis Blues won the 2019 Stanley Cup.

Nolan spent the majority of that season playing in the American Hockey League, with the Blues’ affiliate squad, the San Antonio Rampage. But he did play 14 regular season matches with St. Louis.

Though he did not dress for any playoff contests that season with the Blues, Nolan was with the squad for the majority of its post-season run, practicing with the team in case he was summoned for action.

Nolan also previously won the Cup twice as a member of the Los Angeles Kings, in 2012 and 2014.

Never miss a Windspeaker article. Subscribe Today to our new Windspeaker Newsletter!

Local Journalism Initiative Reporters are supported by a financial contribution made by the Government of Canada.