This tribute is to an outstanding minor league scorer who never got a chance in the @nhl and was the victim of unfortunate, racist mockery during games. Steve Tsujiura @stevetsujiura -
1. Steve was a Japanese Canadian forward born in Ontario.
2. In his 2nd season with the @medhattigers (1979-1980), he scored a whopping 102 points in 72 games, which convinced the @philadelphiaflyers to draft him 205th overall. He followed this up with another monster season (139 points in 72 games), resulting in his being anointed as WHL Player of the Year.
3. Despite putting up impressive numbers in the @theahl (482 points in 538 games), Steve never played a game in the Show.
4. Steve went on to play in Europe and then finish his career in Japan, where he also represented the country in the 1998 Winter Olympics.
5. Steve was the target of tasteless, racist mockery when he played for the Maine Mariners in November 1988. During a game at the Palais des Sports (the home rink of the Sherbrooke Canadiens, the farm team for the Habs), the mascot, Tricolo, wore a headband, waved a Japanese flag, and derisively bowed during the game. Every time Steve made a play or took a hit, the organist played a stereotypical Japanese jingle. This prompted Steve’s coach, Mike Milbury, to charge the organist in the middle of the game and allegedly throw a few punches (I know not many people are fans of Milbury, but this reported incident always earned my respect). For his part, Steve responded to the incident in an incredibly professional manner: “Like I’ve always said before, I’ve experienced this ever since I started playing here. It happens, and that’s unfortunate. I accept it, but I don’t think it should happen. There is certainly an element of racism, but I already have enough problems on the ice to be distracted by that.” Unfortunately, this was not the end of the taunting despite condemnation of the conduct by the media. Steve’s next game at the venue featured fans waving Japanese flags and teasing with signs reading “Chow-mein-Maine” and “Milbury $250 = ? yen.” Once again, the organist played Japanese-inspired jingle when Steve was on the ice...
As these incidents demonstrate, Steve was part of a different era, and it takes a remarkable human being to be willing to step on the ice and focus on the game while the incessant jeering was launched at him. This is a sad story of history that we’ve hopefully turned the page on and improved upon in hockey culture.