Former Red Wing Ted Nolan among 8 Indigenous NHL players featured in new card deck

Ted Nolan, of Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario, is featured in his first NHL hockey card, years after retiring from the league. (Upper Deck – image credit)

Retired professional hockey player and coach Ted Nolan is one of eight former Indigenous NHL players to be featured in a new hockey card set.

Upper Deck released a set called First Peoples Rookie Cards, which highlights the achievements of Indigenous players in the league.

Nolan grew up in Garden River First Nation, near Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings in the 1980s. He later had a successful career as a coach with the Buffalo Sabers and New York Islanders, throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

But even with his career, he never had an official hockey card from his time in the NHL.

“When I was in the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) they made some cards when I was with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds,” he said.

“And that was about it.”

A role-model for Indigneous players

Nolan said when he was a young player he looked up to the few Indigenous players who had played at the top level at that time. Players like Jimmy Neilson, George Armstrong and Gary Sargent had a big impact on him.

“Those guys were childhood heroes for me because they looked like me,” Nolan said.

“So I’m hoping with the same process here I can inspire some kid in northern Ontario, sitting on a small reserve and maybe not playing AAA hockey at the time, but has dreams to be. And they look at this card and say, ‘Man if that little skinny Ojibwe kid from Garden River First Nation could make it, maybe I have a chance too'”

With his sons Brandon and Jordan – who also played in the NHL – Nolan started a hockey skills development camp for Indigenous youth called 3NOLANS.

He said it’s been some of the most rewarding work of his career.

Nolan said it will be a special moment to show his hockey card to young Indigenous players, along with his sons’ cards as well.

Upper Deck

Upper Deck

In addition to Nolan. players featured in the First Peoples Rookie Cards deck are:

  • Dan Frawley and William LeCaine (Pittsburgh Penguins).

  • Johnny Harms (Chicago).

  • Danny Hodgson (Toronto Maple Leafs).

  • Victor Mercredi (Atlanta Flames, now the Calgary Flames).

  • Rocky Trottier (New Jersey Devils).

  • Jason Simon (Phoenix Coyotes)

  • William LeCaine (Pittsburgh Penguins)

“It was paramount for us to do this right and involve the Indigenous community from the inception of the idea through distribution,” said Upper Deck president Jason Masherah, in a press release.

“We’re thrilled to give these iconic Indigenous players the recognition they deserve and get the cards in the hands of excited community members.”

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