Tough is as tough does, and Sheldon Souray, Métis, is as tough as they come.
The 6-foot-four, 237-pound defenseman is back in the big leagues after being relegated to the American Hockey League last year, the farm league for the National Hockey League (NHL).
And opponents are on guard.
The 35-year-old veteran, an Elk Point, Alberta native, who’s been a dominant presence in 13 NHL seasons, has three goals and a plus-eight rating in 11 games so far this season for his current club, the Dallas Stars, who are off to a surprising 8 and 3 start, thanks largely to the play of Souray.
Known throughout the NHL for having a devastating slap shot, reminiscent of legends like Al Iafrate and Al MacInnis, Souray has proven he deserves to be manning the blue line in the world’s top hockey league. His work to get back to the NHL is indicative of his Native strength.
In a recent interview, Souray told ESPN that his Native heritage is, “Important because there aren't a lot of prominent role models coming from the Native communities, and the fact I play in the NHL gives me the platform to do something for these kids.”
Souray, who has a tattoo of a Métis Chief on his right arm, is a man to lead, an inspiration for his hard work on the ice. Equally as impressive, however, is everything Souray had to do, and withstand, to get to the highest plateau any aspiring hockey player can reach.
He told ESPN about the racism he had to deal with as a player in the junior Canadian leagues. “I had an assistant coach in junior A call me a ‘dumb Indian’ and tell me I would never make it anywhere. That's the one thing that stuck out in my mind, and if I see that guy today, I would still like to crack him over the head.”
A tough guy and a proud Métis, Souray is standing up for Natives – and knocking down those who chase the Stars’ net