There is some tragic news around the National Hockey League on Tuesday as it has been reported that Larry Kwong, the first player of Asian heritage to appear in an NHL game, has died at 94.
The news was revealed as many fans noticed his obituary published late last week. According to the aforementioned online obituary, he passed away Thursday in Calgary, Alberta.
Kwong played a shift with the New York Rangers against the Montreal Canadiens on March 3, 1948. He was paired up against Maurice “Rocket” Richard - quite the feat in a first game... It was huge back then to see a player of Asian heritage in action in the NHL. Though his stint was short, it took place as Kwong joined the New York Rovers, a Rangers farm team, where he led the team in scoring in the 1947-1948 season.
It would be his only NHL game and he would play for less than a minute, but in doing so, he made history.
Kwong was born in British Columbia and played with his hometown Hydrophones for a while. He then moved up to the senior ranks at age 18 when he joined the Trail Smoke Eaters.
After the Rangers, Kwong spent several seasons in the Quebec Senior Hockey League. He later played in England and Switzerland, where he also became a coach. Kwong retired from professional hockey in 1972, to then moved to Calgary to run a grocery store alongside his brother.
Kwong was inducted into British Columbia's sports Hall of Fame back in 2013, and was also inducted in Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
He died peacefully on March 15 in his Calgary home.
The great Jean Beliveau once said of Kwong: “Larry made his wing men look good because he was a great passer. He was doing what a center man is supposed to do.”
It is the second sad news regarding a passing in the NHL this week. On Monday, the Pittsburgh Penguins announced that former three-time NHL All-Star Greg Polis passed away.
Polis, a former 1st round pick (7th overall) of the Penguins in 1970 played 615 games in the NHL split between the Penguins, St. Louis Blues, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals put up 174 goals and 343 points.
The Westlock, Alberta native represented the Penguins in three NHL All-Star games, winning MVP honors in 1973.
RIP, Greg and Larry. Gone, but never forgotten.