When it comes to Jews in the National Hockey League, there’s retired defenseman Mathieu Schneider and, um, other people. Actually, The Jewish Daily Forward recently published the 5 Jewish Players To Watch as Hockey Season Starts profiling Jeff Halpern of the Rangers; Mike Brown of the Maple Leafs; Eric Nystrom of Dallas; David Warsofsky of the Bruins; and Mike Cammalleri of Calgary. (Besides Christensen and Muhammad, is there a least sounding Jewish name than Cammalleri?) The Jewish Sports Review also includes several minor league players in addition to these players. Well, you can now include Pittsburgh native Dylan Reese to this list. Reese was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and played for the Penguins against the Capitals on Thursday night.
This got me thinking: is Reese the first Jewish player on the Penguins? My non-scientific search found that Justin Duberman is Jewish based on a reference to his birth date in Day By Day in Jewish Sports History by Bob Wechsler. Here’s Duberman’s biography from the Hockey Hall of Fame:
Right-winger Justin Duberman played four games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1993-94. He was a solid playmaker and scorer who won more battles than he lost along the boards. Most of his success as a pro came in the minors and the British league.
Born in New Have, Connecticut, Duberman was a scoring star on Tier II Detroit Compuware in 1987-88. He was chosen 230th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1989 after his freshman year at the University of North Dakota. Duberman was a diligent worker for three more years with the Fighting Sioux then signed as a free agent with the Pittsburgh Penguins in November, 1992.
The young winger scored 29 goals as a rookie pro with the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks in 1992-93 then saw brief duty in the NHL the next year. After spending most of two years in the IHL and ECHL, Duberman sat out the 1995-96 season then played two years with Britain' Newcastle Cobras before retiring in 1998.
Only four games with the Penguins? Duberman is like Moonlight Graham from Field of Dreams. I hope that Reese’s career with the Pens lasts significantly longer.