If there were a Mount Rushmore of Jewish athletes there would not be a single hockey player on it. In fact, in my estimation there would need to be 25 or so Mount Rushmores before we got to a single hockey player. When we discuss the greatest Jewish hockey player of all-time we are likely to say names like Mike Cammalleri or Jeff Halpern. Solid NHL players; yes. Great? I do not think anyone would describe them as great.
There are reasons for this which likely stems for the amount of time it took American Jews to see hockey as an option to play as children. When Jews came to America from Eastern Europe they looked to baseball to assimilate. It was a way to fit in, learn American culture, and it was cheap to attend and play. Hockey is one of the most expensive sports to play and thus it took generations for Jewish parents to see it as a reality.
Some Jewish hockey players began to emerge in the late ’80s or early ’90s; players like Ronnie Stern and Steve Dubinsky. They were both solid but never had the stature Sid Luckman had in football or Dolph Schayes in basketball. There were also a few players who were expected to be fantastic in the NHL but didn’t turn out to be elite like Colby Cohen or Eric Nystrom. Again both good players but neither the Sandy Koufax of hockey.
But that could all come to an end very soon. Already in the league are solid veterans like Jason Zucker ad Andre Burakovsky. And two young stars that are ready to chip away at building a Mount Rushmore of their own; Zach Hyman and Luke Kunin. Both of these youngsters have elite potential and could be perennial all-stars. Then there are the Hughes brothers; Quinn and Jack. Quinn began in the NHL last year after finishing his time at Michigan. He was the #7 overall draft pick in 2018. His brother Jack went #1 overall in the 2019 draft and looks to start the season with the Devils. The Hughes brothers are ready to make a name for themselves on the ice and by doing so begin a new legacy of Jewish players to look up to. Hyman, Kunin, and the Hughes brothers all could be on the Mount Rushmore not before long while we all get to witness the birth of greatest Jewish hockey generation.