I was going to write about how the Boston Bruins' own Milan Lucic was suspended for a game or about how Zdeno Chara is tall and old, but a quick google search for Boston Bruins brought this image to my computer screen.
For those that don't know, this is Johnny Bucyk. He is No. 24 on the NHL's all-time scorer's list with 1,369 points (NICE). Bucyk played for the Boston Bruins for 21 years. His No. 9 hangs in the rafters of the TD Garden.
"John Bucyk is known as Chief and he was the team's leader in every way for the 21 seasons he played in a Bruins uniform. He held every team career offensive record for over 20 years, remains the team's all-time goal scorer and is second on the club's all-time scoring list. He served as team captain for five seasons and won two Stanley Cups with Boston, in 1970 and 1972. The winner of two Lady Byng Trophies as the league's most gentlemanly player, he was twice an NHL All-Star and was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1981. He has continued to be one of the Bruns' – and hockey's – greatest ambassadors and he celebrated his 50th anniversary with the organization in 2006-07."
— quote via bruins.nhl.com.
Bucyk was a great NHL player. He was not, however, of native descent.
Despite the nickname "Chief," Bucyk was actually born to Sam and Pearl Bucyk, who were Ukranian immigrants that settled in Edmonton. As noted by Stan and Shirley Fischler in their book, Who's Who in Hockey, the nickname "the Chief" was brought about by Bronco Horvath (a non-native and member of the "Uke" line formed with Bucyk and Vic Stasiuk) who "coined Bucyk's nickname, 'the Chief,' after his straight ebony hair, swarthy complexion and stoic visage." In other words a "swarthy" a.k.a. dark-skinned man with black hair was nicknamed "the Chief" because he resembled a person of native descent.
A symbolic chief to the Boston Bruins, Bucyk deserves his recognition and praise.
However, being adorned in a native headdress, a restricted symbol in native culture, is appropriation. Not only is the headdress a symbol of chiefs and honored warriors, but it also holds spiritual significance as well. This is in no way meant to argue against honoring such an influential player in Bruins history, but to protect and admire a culture in a way that does not perpetuate stereotypes (in this case Pan-Indian culture) and is respectful of its history. Please educate yourselves about other cultures, help preserve history and prevent appropriation.
Anaheim Ducks at Boston Bruins
Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016, 4:00 p.m. PST
TD Garden – Boston, MA