By David Li, bostonese.com
Boston, June 19, 2013, — Boston Bruins outplayed visiting Chicago Blackhawks in game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals Monday night at TD Garden. The 2:0 victory gives Boston 2:1 series lead. On the same day, the first person of Asian ancestry to play in the National Hockey League (NHL), Chinese Canadian Larry Kwong celebrated his 90th birthday. On June 8, 2013, over 200 people showed up for a birthday party for Mr. Kwong in a restaurant in Calgary.
Larry Kwong (left) and director Kenda Gee (middle).
Larry Kwong, aka The China Clipper, was born on June 17, 1923, in Vernon. He was the first Chinese Canadian to play in the NHL. He was also the first NHL player from Vernon and the Okanagan region of Canada.
Even as a pioneer in professional sports as an Asian Canadian, Larry Kwong was not well known among Asian communities in Canada until a documentary film LOST YEARS (2011) featured Mr. Kwong. In the film, Mr. Kwong reflected his professional hockey career which included one appearance in an NHL game for New York Rangers.
In his Feb. 2013 New York Times article A Hockey Pioneer’s Moment, Mr. David Davis wrote: “With assistance from Chad Soon, a schoolteacher in Vernon, Kwong has received belated recognition for being an N.H.L. pioneer. The Calgary Flames saluted him at the Saddledome in 2008. He was featured in “Lost Years,” a 2011 documentary about the Chinese-Canadian experience, and he was inducted this year into the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.”
An online petition drive was started earlier this year for Hockey Hall of Fame to recognize Larry Kwong. The petition has reached its goal of 250 signatures.
J. C. Lam of Toronto commented on the petition drive: “I wasn’t aware of Larry’s story until I saw him featured in the documentary, The LOST YEARS. It’s unjust that such a man go unacknowledged for his achievements. He did a lot to promote hockey in Europe. His is a story that is worth knowing.”
LOST YEARS is an epic documentary touching on the largest exodus in humankind, covering over 150 years of history of the Chinese in Canada, USA, UK, New Zealand and Australia. The film chronicles the struggle for justice by Chinese Canadians, based on 12 years of research by co-producers Kenda Gee and Tom Radford.
In a phone interview on June 19, Mr. Kwong mentioned that he played against Boston Olympics for New York Rovers in 1948. He liked Boston’s chances for this year’s Stanley Cup as Boston Bruins “got a lot of good players and they know how to check.” When asked about his secret for longevity, Mr. Kwong said over the phone: “I go to gym three times a week, and do different exercises to stay in shape. I have two granddaughters living in Calgary, and they also like to workout.”