November 1 marks the 40th anniversary of Val James' NHL debut and the Buffalo Sabres will commemorate the milestone during their next home game on Saturday, November 6 against the Detroit Red Wings.
When James suited up for the Sabres for the first time in 1981, he became the first Black American to play in the NHL. The accomplishment was overlooked at the time, but the moment's significance has garnered the attention it deserves over the past few years.
James, who resides in Niagara Falls, Ontario, will be unable to attend the game, but shared his heartfelt thanks to the Sabres community for organizing the night.
"I'm afraid I will not be able to join you on November 6 for the game, but I still appreciate the fact that you are supporting me and honoring me for my achievement of becoming the first African American to play NHL hockey 40 years ago," James said in a video statement released by the team.