Jordin John Kudluk Tootoo
Born February 2, 1983 (age 28) in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
Right winger for the Nashville Predators
We’ve featured the first player of Armenian descent (Zach Bogosian), the first of Slovenian descent (Anze Kopitar), and now we have the honor of profiling the first NHL player of Inuit descent.
Jordin played AA bantam hockey in Alberta and caught the attention of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, who picked him in the WHL Bantam Draft. He played with them for four years, steadily improving his points – his last season saw him earn 35 goals and 39 assists (and 216 penalty minutes). He was the Nashville Predators’ sixth overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft and scored his first NHL goal on October 23, 2003 against the Atlanta Thrashers. In the Year That Never Was he played for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and bounced between them and the Preds for the 2005-06 season.
Of course, Jordin’s been in trouble on the ice. On March 17, 2007, he hit Dallas Stars defenseman Stéphane Robidas so hard with his glove that he was knocked unconscious and suffered from a concussion; he was suspended for five games without pay as a result of that and was accused of playing dirty. It came back to haunt him that October when he hit the Phoenix Coyotes’ Daniel Winnik in the head with his shoulder.
As I mentioned above, Jordin is the first NHL player of Inuit descent. Though he was born in Manitoba, he was raised in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, by his mother Rose (who is of Ukranian descent) and his father Barney, who is an Inuk. It was his father who taught him how to skate and play hockey, and Jordin was raised on the traditions of Inuit life – hunting, camping, fishing and the like. He’s become a role model for Inuit youth in Nunavut, although he’s had some hard times along the way. His older brother Terrence, who played for the ECHL’s Roanoke Express in the 2001-02 season, took his own life in 2002 after being arrested for drunk driving. In 2010, he entered himself into the NHLPA’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program for alcohol addiction and completed it in 2011. He was able to finish the season and play in the playoffs. Let’s hope that he has an awesome season this fall and helps the Preds to another playoff appearance.
By the way, did you notice his number? It’s 2-2, or Tootoo. Well played, sir, well played.