Eighteen year-old centre Sam Kadri will be the second Muslim to play in the NHL when he suits up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who selected him with the seventh pick in the 2009 draft. Canada’s increasing diversity hasn’t been quickly reflected in the nation’s favourite sport. Born and raised in Montreal, Ramzi Abid was the first Muslim to play in the NHL after being selected in the second round by the Phoenix Coyotes 11 years ago. He played 68 games for the Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins, Atlanta Thrashers and Nashville Predators. But his brief foray into the NHL received little attention. Kadri has received far more attention in Toronto.
“If this has a ripple effect on the young players in the Muslim community to take up hockey, then that’s a wonderful side effect,” Leafs GM Brian Burke said. “If that increases our player pool in a part of society we’re not touching right now, that’s great.”