by Nick Hamilton (@NickHamiltonLA)
EL SEGUNDO, CA — Tuesday night the Los Angeles Kings selected forward Quinton Byfield and is the highest selected Black player in NHL history. Byfield’s speed is amazing, and his skill set continues to rise in the sport.
Beyond him wearing a Kings jersey, Byfield is also focused on spreading the sport to more young Black kids to gain interest. He also understands the opportunity that is before him by being selected so high.
“It definitely means a lot to me, and it shows it’s a lot of opportunity for anyone in the world and you can play every sport and be successful in it,” Byfield said. “I don’t get too nervous but I was pretty nervous and pretty excited for this moment. You’ve been waiting for it your whole life.“
“I think that would be something really special. I think that it shows that having guys like Evander Kane and Seth Jones and P.K. Subban getting drafted and being impact players helped me growing up”, Byfield told Ryan S. Clark of The Athletic. “It gave me the example that I could do it some day. Maybe I could see myself as a player. Now it is my time and my turn to take that role. It would be special to know that with this new generation that you could make an impact.”
If he continue to develop over the course of years, he’ll be a real reason why the Kings will have success in the future. To increasing his progress, he’ll have an opportunity to learn from a mentor like Anze Kopitar.
Kings General Manager and Vice President Rob Blake wont thrust Byfield on the NHL ice right away, but is confident he won’t be ruled out of action in a Kings uniform this coming season.
“Physically, I think he has the ability to step in and play in the NHL with his size and playing ability,” Blake said. “Now there’s a lot more that goes into it: The uncertainty on the amount of games, when we’re starting … what will happen in the OHL where he’s currently playing, the World Juniors, all of this has to come into account.“
The 6-foot-4 frame of the power forward who recently turned 18, is only going to fill out more and get stronger. Byfield will not only have a profound impact on the ice but off the ice as well. He’s no stranger to being apart of the community, according to LAKings.com, this past season he partnered with NEOKids a regional hub for specialized children’s care, to create an initiative called “Q’s Kids,” where he would invite the patients and their families out to a Sudbury Wolves game.
His heart for the community will continue once he arrives to Los Angeles at some point. Many are excited for Byfield’s arrival, and he and the Kings may have just acquired a new demographic of Black fans to the sport, which is something that has been long overdue. If his upside continues on and off the ice, Byfield could have the impact in Los Angeles like Clayton Kershaw, Lebron James, Mookie Betts, and possibly the late great Kobe Bryant.
The 2021 NHL season is scheduled to begin on January 1 according to commissioner Gary Bettman.