NHL diversity milestones
CBSSports.com staff
The New York Rangers invite Herb Carnegie to their training camp to play for their minor league team, but he refuses and opts to play semi-pro.
George Armstrong joins the Toronto Maple Leafs and becomes the first Native Canadian (First Nation) to play in the NHL.

Art Dorrington becomes the first black player to sign an NHL contract when he joins the New York Rangers. However, Dorrington never makes it to the NHL.

Willie O'Ree breaks the NHL color barrier when he makes his debut with the Boston Bruins on Jan. 18.

Grant Fuhr becomes the first black player to win the Stanley Cup when the Edmonton Oilers defeat the New York Islanders.

Grant Fuhr becomes the first black player to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goaltender. ... The Chicago Blackhawks name Dirk Graham captain, making him the first black player to wear the 'C.' ... Tony McKegney becomes the first black player to score 40 goals in a season.

South Korean native Jim Paek becomes the first Asian to play in the NHL when he suits up for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Bill Guerin joins the New Jersey Devils, making him the first Hispanic to play in the NHL. ... Tony McKegney becomes the first minority to play on the Canadian National Team.

John Paris leads the IHL's Atlanta Knights to a championship as the first black head coach in professional hockey.

Anaheim's Paul Kariya becomes the first Asian player to score 50 goals in a season.

Ted Nolan, of the First Nations Ojibway tribe, wins the Jack Adams Award as the league's Coach of the Year.

Dirk Graham becomes the first black NHL head coach when he is hired to become the Chicago Blackhawks bench boss.

New Jersey's Scott Gomez, of Mexican and Colombian descent, wins the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie.

Calgary's Jarome Iginla becomes the first player of African descent to win the Art Ross Trophy, Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award.

Jordan Tootoo joins the Nashville Predators and becomes the first native Inuit to play in the NHL. ... Grant Fuhr becomes the first black player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. ... Gerald Coleman becomes the first NHL Diversity program graduate to be selected in the NHL Draft when Tampa Bay selects him with the 224th overall pick.

San Jose's Jonathan Cheechoo, the first member of the Moose Cree First Nation to play in the NHL, wins the Maurice "Rocket" Richard trophy.

I'm Not Tony Dungy

Was given an assistant coaching job with the IHL's Atlanta Knights. Coaching alongside former Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Gene Ubriaco gave him good insight on how to professionally run a hockey team. With the Knights being the minor-league affiliate of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, it was only a matter of time before Ubriaco was summoned back to the highest level.

Coached the Knights to a 9-5-3 record, ending the season as the top team in the Midwest Division with a 45-22-14 record. The Knights swept the Milwaukee Admirals in Round One, and then swept the San Diego Gulls in Round Two to advance to the Turner Cup Final.

The Fort Wayne Komets were the Knights' opponents in the Final. It took the Knights six games to eliminate the Komets, but he led the Atlanta hockey team to its first professional hockey title, when the Knights captured the Turner Cup on home ice. With that win, He also became the first African-Canadian hockey coach to lead his team to a professional championship.

Pretty cool stuff, right? Today, you can find him  coaching at his hockey school. He holds a Master's Degree in Sports Psychology, and have Level-IV Coaching Certification from USA Hockey and an Advanced Canadian Coaching Certificate. His resume, to be honest, is impressive, and his list of achievements and accolades is highly decorated.

If there ever was an excellent role model for younger African-American and African-Canadian people who are interested in coaching hockey, He would be that role model. This story is inspiring, and the achievements are incredible. That is the kind of role model that anyone can and should look up to when needing an example of an upstanding citizen.

Congratulations to Mr. John Paris Jr. on his past successes, and wish him nothing but the absolute best in his continuing and future endeavours!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

Associated Press (AP)
Macon Whoopee head coach John Paris leads his team from his perch in the team box during a game against the Memphis RiverKings. 

After a slow start at the turnstiles, the Whoopee has suddenly become the thing to do in Macon. The team leads its division, and people who don't know the difference between blue lines and Red Wings 
are shelling out upwards of $70 for Whoopee jerseys. 

Sellout crowds are packing the Coliseum, an aging building where Elvis Presley used to perform. 

``It's all fun to me,'' said Derrick Lunsford, 25, who had never been to a hockey game until this season. ``I like to socialize watch the game, check out the babes and see 'em fight. This has got it all, man.'' 

Elvis would fit right in with the party atmosphere, with fans shaking, wiggling, spinning and dancing the Macarena from the first faceoff to the final horn. 

``It's really energetic and it gets people going,'' said Mandy Wilson, a 21-year-old student at Mercer University who hardly spent a moment in her seat during a game that drew a crowd of 6,837. 

This was Wilson's fourth game, and she was still a little fuzzy about what those guys with skates and French-sounding names are trying to do. But when ``Twist and Shout'' or ``Stayin' Alive'' blared from the loudspeaker, she knew exactly what to do.  

Jet, August 29, 1994

As the first Black professional hockey coach, John Paris Jr. was noticed because of his race.

But now the 47-year-old coach is being noticed because of his coaching ability. Paris is coach of the Atlanta Knights of the International Hockey League, and his team has won the Turner Cup. Winning the Turner Cup, the minor-league hockey championship, speaks for his credentials.

He was hired to coach in mid-season took over the Knights and moved himself into the history books.

The Knights, a minor-league affiliate of the National Hockey League's Tampa Bay Lightning, have thrusted the 5-foot-5, soft-spoken man into considerable notoriety now that the Knights are the reigning champions.

ST. LOUIS (NHL) - Named Matt Keator New England area scout. Signed Jack Evans, assistant director of scouting, and Pat Ginnell, Ken Williamson and John Paris, Jr., scouts.
By Paul Newberry

"I've always said, `I'm a coach by choice and black by nature,' " he said.
Now, it's rare enough to be a black player in Canada. But it's even more unusual to be a black coach.
"Let's face it, it's not like baseball or football or basketball where maybe you're coaching a majority of African-American or minority players," Paris said. "I'm coaching players who are 99.9 percent Caucasian. ... I had to be twice as good as the next guy or I wasn't going to make it."  I never gave it a second thought as this was my decision & it was up to me to make it happen! 

John Paris, Jr. Joins Sonahhr Canada Executive Board

Posted: January 29, 2009 by George Robert

01/29/09. New York City. The Society of North American Hockey Historians and researchers announced today that Mr. John Paris, Jr. has joined their Sonahhr Canada Executive Board

If it isn't apparent, I'm not Tony Dungy. I have never coached a football game in my life. I don't know Peyton Manning, but I have once been in the same city as him. I certainly don't work for NBC, and, if you know me, you know that I really don't like the NFL. I know: gasp! However, Tony Dungy's recent comments regarding college football programs and their apparent disregard in hiring African-American men as head coaches got me thinking. There have been a plethora of great men who have played hockey who represent the African-American community in the NHL, but that hasn't transformed into a number of head coaching jobs. In fact, there has been only one African-American head coach who has won an accolade at the professional level. And that's shocking.

Executive Board of SONAHHR

"John Paris Jr. was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, where most of his early sports memories concern learning to skate, and playing hockey & baseball with his father. Later, he played within the Windsor minor hockey system from where he was recruited by the Montreal Canadian organization. This marked the start of his journey that provided the ground work for the pages now etched in sports history, as he holds the distinction of being the first Black Head Coach and/or Gm in the history of Professional hockey; this same intent includes the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League & Midget AAA.

In addition to his hockey career, Mr. Paris is also known for his coaching stance against Prejudice & Hazing almost 40 years ago when he stated that no athlete should have to suffer humiliation nor rituals that are demeaning to ones personal well being, simply to be considered part of a team or event, and that talent, attitude & performance only, should be an automatic guarantee of acceptance.

His guest speaking appearances include over 6 decades of experiences, anecdotes, comparisons on topics ranging from motivation to sports performance. He remains active in the coaching field, and is presently working upon the final stages of an autobiography entitled “Circle of Mirrors.” With Mr. Robert Ashe, editor & writer - who wrote The Babe Was Here, Champions, etc.

Friday, December 11, 2009

It takes a pretty good understanding of the game to move into the coaching ranks. Normally, coaches are former players at some level, who have stepped behind the bench. Otherwise, they are long-time coaches - men who have perfected their craft at a lower level before moving up the ladder to new challenges. In both cases, these men have worked hard at their trade, earning the respect of their peers and players along the way.

So who was the first African-American or African-Canadian coach to win a major award, and where did he get his start? If you can believe this, the first African-American or African-Canadian coach in any major professional league was John Paris Jr., who coached the IHL's Atlanta Knights in 1993-94, and led them to the IHL Turner Cup Championship.

He was born in Windsor, Nova Scotia, in a hockey-loving family. His father, John "Buster" Paris Sr., was an amateur standout with the Windsor Bulldogs in the 1930s. John Paris Sr. became a father to him and his brothers, all of whom enjoyed the sport that their father excelled at in the 1930s.

He was an undersized winger, small in stature but good enough to play major junior hockey.  Spent the 1966-67 season with the Quebec Aces, a team that had produced some other notable hockey stars. He was recruited by Scotty Bowman and the Montreal Canadians, putting on a path that seemed bound for glory.