Val James
Val james.jpg
Born February 14, 1957 (1957-02-14) (age 62)
Ocala, Florida
Height 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shoots Left
Played for Buffalo Sabres
Toronto Maple Leafs
NHL Draft 184th overall, 1977
Detroit Red Wings
Playing career 1978–1988

Val James (born Valmore Curtis James on February 14, 1957) is a retired American professional ice hockey left winger, as well as defenseman, who played two seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.

He was the first native-born Floridian to play in the NHL.

Playing CareerEdit

Val was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 16th round (184th overall) in the 1977 NHL Entry Draft after playing 2 seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) for the Quebec Remparts, although he never played in any regulation games for the Red Wings.

He also played several seasons in the late 1970s for the Erie Blades in the Eastern Hockey League (EHL).

His propensity for using hip checks garnered notoriety in the Erie County Field House, home of the Blades. He signed with the Buffalo Sabres on July 22, 1981.

Val made his NHL debut for the Sabres during the 1981-82 NHL season, playing in seven games.

In 1983, while playing in the American Hockey League (AHL) under the direction of rookie coach Mike Keenan, Val scored the winning goal for the Rochester Americans in the Calder Cup.

His next NHL stint came in the 1986-87 NHL season with the Toronto Maple Leafs, playing in four games.

As an African-American, Val often faced situations at all levels of his career where he was the victim of incidents of racial prejudice by opposing fans and sometimes opposing players.

On the ice, he became revered for his fighting ability. Spirited bouts and victories over noted enforcers Terry O'Reilly and John Kordic were part of his record.

One of the NHL's all-time top enforcers, Dave Brown singled out Val as one of the hardest punching players, and toughest opponents, he had ever fought.

After only 14 professional NHL hockey games, a shoulder injury forced him to retire from the sport in 1988. After retirement, Val taught hockey for 10 years before leaving sports altogether.

Personal LifeEdit

Val was born in Ocala, Florida and raised in Long Island, New York. It was on Long Island that he began skating and playing ice hockey in Commack where his father was employed as the manager of an ice rink.

His autobiography "Black Ice: The Val James Story" is scheduled by ECW Press for worldwide distribution to coincide with Black History Month in February of 2015.

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