Ray Emery as goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers. He now plays for the Chicago Blackhaws. (Chris Szagola/AP Photo)
Ray Emery as goalie for the Philadelphia Flyers. He now plays for the Chicago Blackhaws. (Chris Szagola/AP Photo)

Shannon Ryan, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE

(The Chicago Tribune) — Wearing a Blackhawks sweater, some playoff scruff and a grin, Ken Brown strolled down an avenue of popular bars in Old Town during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final, hopping to the next pub between periods before watching the Hawks dramatically finish off the Lightning.

Brown acknowledged he is a rarity, yet part of a quickly growing demographic among Hawks followers.

“I have two other black friends into hockey and the rest are like, ‘Hockey? What?’” said Brown, 40, an African-American who is a die-hard Hawks fan. “There are not that many into the sport. But there’s been more recognition since the Blackhawks have been winning and with a couple (African-American) guys on our team.”

Hockey long has been considered a white man’s sport because of the limited access to ice rinks in cities, the cost of play, the lack of black professional players and — perhaps the most daunting roadblock of all — stereotypes.

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