Val James to Visit Toledo

Monday, March 02, 2020

Toledo will welcome Val James – who became the first American-born black player in the N.H.L. when he took to the ice with the Buffalo Sabres in 1982 – at the Ottawa Park Ice Rink on Sunday, March 8.

Mr. James played in seven leagues over the course of his career. From 1978-79 to 1987-88, he played in the minors, with several call-ups to the N.H.L. – first with the Sabres and then the Toronto Maple Leafs. Willie O’Ree, a Canadian, broke the N.H.L. color barrier in 1958, but Mr. James is believed to have been only the seventh black player to follow in the next 24 years.

“We are excited to welcome Val James, a hockey legend and trailblazer, to our city and to our wonderful community ice rink at Ottawa Park,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said. “We have plans to soon make sports like hockey more accessible to the youth of our city, and to make drastic improvements to our parks with the passage of Issue 1, so it is great to have Val speak to young people at one of the jewels of our city park system on Sunday.”

The schedule for March 8 is as follows:

  • 12 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. – open skate
  • 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. – Toledo Ice Crew only ice time
  • 5:30 - 6:30 p.m. – appearance by Val James in the Ottawa Park Ice Arena lobby
  • 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. – Toledo Ice Crew only ice time

The Toledo Ice Crew is a partnership of the City of Toledo, Toledo Public Schools, the Toledo Police Hockey Team, the Toledo Walleye Hockey Club, Jim White, Jr., Sylvania Tam-O-Shanter, and Sylvania Youth Hockey. The Ottawa Park Ice Rink is an outdoor ice arena owned by the City of Toledo and managed by its Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Division. Learn more about the Toledo Ice Crew at and

The city of Toledo supports the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you would like to request a reasonable accommodation, please contact Joan Easler, ADA coordinator, at 419-245-1059.