On Thursday, February 21 when the Devils hosted the Ottawa Senators at Prudential Center for a 7PM puck drop, they spent the evening celebrating Black History throughout the game as part of their Hockey is For Every Initiative. The Devils invited out three-time GRAMMY Award Winner Wyclef Jean who grew up in Newark to spend the day at Prudential Center to celebrate.
He was at the arena and greeted the team as they stepped onto the ice prior to morning skate.
He then stopped by the Devils training room to get in a work out prior to the game.
And both he and Bryce Salvador teased some special moments happening at Prudential Center prior to doors opening to fans.
Closer to the game, Wyclef met with the Devils Junior Captain of the game prior to puck drop, as well.
The Junior Captain was nine-year-old Dallas Laurent who is a member of the New Jersey Devils Learn to Play Program at Ice Land Skating Center in Hamilton, New Jersey. He skated out on the ice to stand on the blue line with the Devils starters for the National Anthem.
"It was a great opportunity to meet the players and stand with the team on the ice for the National Anthems," Dallas said about being Junior Captain of the Game.
Afterward, Wyclef and Bryce Salvador, who became the first black captain in Devils history in 2013, participated in a ceremonial puck drop before the game.
Video: OTT@NJD: Wyclef Jean drops ceremonial puck in Newark
The Devils also had Arlette, beloved anthem singer, out to the game in celebration of the night. She sang prior to puck drop and was very excited to be a part of the night.
"It is one of the great honors of my life to be able to lead our Devils fans in the singing of the National Anthem at the Rock," Arlette explained. "Being an immigrant from Trinidad, who came to this country thirty years ago with nothing but hope and a prayer, I am the true embodiment of the American dream. Fast forward thirty years from my arrival, I am now a proud American citizen, raising my American children, living an amazing life here in the USA."
Arlette was highlighted during the game, as she started singing the for the Devils in 1996 and had become the face of the anthem for the team.
"Being African American, it is particularly poignant that mine is the face that starts off our games, predominantly played by and supported by my "melanin challenged" peers. It is my hope that more and more African Americans discover and fall in love with hockey as I have. It's the best sport in the world! I truly get nothing but love from Devils fans who opened their arms and welcomed me in. It's a beautiful thing. I am humbled and honored that I am carving out a tiny space for myself in Black History."
The Devils promoted Black History moments specifically related to the Devils in their game presentation throughout the night. The celebration included highlighting Claude Vilgrain, the first blacker player in Devils history in 1989, Mark Fraser, the first black player drafted in Devils history in 2005, Kevin Weekes, the first black goaltender in Devils history in 2007 as well as the first black analyst in hockey in 2009, and Mike Grier, the first black coach in Devils history in 2018.
During the first intermission of the game, the Devils had Hockey in New Jersey's youth hockey team participate in Mites on Ice. Kimaya, a member of the team, was interviewed by team reporter Amanda Stein in front of Prudential Center's crowd after she got off the ice. She was able to say hi to her mom on the jumbotron and tell everyone that she wants to be a hockey player when she grows up.
Also, during the first intermission of the game, Wyclef hopped on a stage on Prudential Center's main concourse to perform live for fans in attendance.
During the second intermission, Wyclef Jean sat down with MSG Broadcaster Erika Wachter to talk about his experience at Prudential Center and with the Devils.
After the game, Wyclef reflected on the night as a whole and what it meant to him to be a part of the Devils celebration of Black History Month.
"As a kid who was born in Haiti and raised in Newark, hockey was a sport that my community was never exposed to," said Wyclef. "To be a part of the NHL's Hockey is For Everyone movement and to learn about the history of black hockey players such as Willie O'Ree and Bryce Salvador, I'm appreciative of the opportunity to support my home team, the New Jersey Devils, during this important time of year."
To stay up-to-date on all Devils related news, fans can follow the team on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at @NJDevils. To follow Arlette on social media, fans can follow her on Instagram at @singarlettesing. To follow Wyclef, fans can follow him on Twitter at @wyclef and on Instagram at @wyclefjean. To see what the Devils are doing year-round to support Hockey Is For Everyone initiatives, fans can visit newjerseydevils.com/community.