BLACK HISTORY MONTH PROFILE: Dirk Graham
February is Black History Month, and each week the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be highlighting a black hockey trailblazer who has left his or her mark on the sport. Check back each Monday throughout the month for another player profile.
An offensive standout in the junior ranks, Dirk Graham totaled 283 points (134+149) in 210 games with the Regina Pats between 1975-79. That output led to him being selected 89th overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1979 NHL Draft.
Graham’s offensive prowess carried over to his minor career, as he twice led the Toledo Goaldiggers in scoring (1980-81, 1982-83) and placed second in the International Hockey League with 70 goals in 1982-83.
He signed with the Minnesota North Stars prior to the 1983-84 season, ad split the next two campaigns between the Minnesota and the minors, before finding a permanent home in the NHL inn 1985-86.
Graham was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks midway through the 1987-88 season, and spent the seven seasons of his career in the Windy City.
While with the Blackhawks, Graham posted four 20-goal seasons, including a career-best 33 goal outing during the 1988-89 campaign. He was also named the Blackhawks’ team captain during his first full season with the team, becoming the first black player to wear the ‘C’ on his sweater in NHL history.
He was awarded the Frank J. Selke Trophy in 1990-91 as the best defensive forward in the NHL, and guided Chicago to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, where the Blackhawks fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in four games.
Graham retired following the 1994-95 season, and joined the Blackhawks’ hockey operations department. He was named Chicago’s head coach prior to the 1998-99 season, becoming the first black head coach in NHL history.
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