Via Abel to Yzerman, The Score’s John Matisz posted an article discussing Arizona Coyotes prospect Jalen Smereck, who’s a Detroit-born-and-bred player:
It’s early August, and the sun is beating down on Clark Park, a multipurpose community center just west of the bridge connecting Michigan and Ontario. Local pro Jalen Smereck moves through a scattered group of ball hockey players, striking up casual conversations.
Smereck grew up 12 miles from Clark Park. This is his community, and he sees himself in these kids. One mom asks if Smereck minds taking a photo with her shy 12-year-old son, a black hockey player who is new to the sport. She also has a question: What kind of advice does Smereck have for him?
“It was crazy because when I was with my black friends, I was a white boy, but when I was with my white friends, I was a black boy,” he replies. “So, it was kind of weird … “
Poke your head into arenas across the continent and it’s not hard to see that hockey is a predominantly white, affluent sport. In Detroit’s core, there isn’t much in the way of money, and less than 15% of Detroit residents are white (Smereck’s dad, Gary, is one of them). While the home of the Red Wings might be nicknamed Hockeytown, it’s decidedly a basketball, baseball, and football city.
This is the environment in which Smereck came of age and, as the 2019-20 hockey season begins, still grapples with. Nothing’s ever been easy, the 22-year-old Arizona Coyotes prospect said in a recent interview, but these are the cards he’s been dealt. There’s plenty of work – on and off the ice, for his community and for himself – left to be done.