Edmonton Oilers defenceman called it a special honor.
Ethan Bear, who represents the Ochapowace Cree Nation, proudly made history when on Tuesday, July 28th during an exhibition game against the Calgary Flames, he wore a specialized Oilers jersey emblazoned with a Cree nameplate.
“It’s very honorable to the players that played before me and then to the young Indigenous kids who want to play in the NHL,” Bear, who is 23 years-old said. “It’s very honorable for me. I wore it with pride tonight. It was awesome.”
This one of a kind Ethan Bear Cree Oilers jersey, which on the back had his last name spelt out in Cree, is proving to be a hit. Not long after the July 28th game, the specialized jersey quickly sold out after being made available through Pro-Am Sports Store.
“Last night (The July 28th exhibition game) obviously makes it more official,” Pro-Am Sports Store owner Jack Cookson said. “Before it was something cool on a jersey, but now it’s been on the ice. “We’ve had orders from Europe and Asia, all over North America.”
Selected in 2015, 124th overall by the Oilers, Bear signed a three-year entry contract on July 2nd 2016 with Edmonton and made his official NHL debut on March 1st. 2018 against the Nashville Predators. A little over three weeks later, on March 25th in a 5-4 overtime loss against the Anaheim Ducks, Bear celebrated his first NHL goal.
This year, the 5’11’’ 197- pound defenceman enjoyed a solid rookie campaign which saw the Regina Saskatchewan resident score 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists) while posting a -4 mark in 71 games.
Bear has also provided some valuable grittiness and is not hesitant to drop his gloves which hasn’t gone unnoticed by Edmonton fans.
“We’ve developed a relationship and we reached out to his girlfriend and she put us in touch with his dad who put us in touch with his uncle and Ethan’s uncle was the one who did the research and made sure we got it right,” Cookson said about the hot selling jersey.
In terms of wearing this specialized jersey, Bear could hardly contain his pride at getting to experience this opportunity.
“Ethan was pretty excited about it, showing it around the dressing room,” Cookson said. “Obviously what came of that was him wearing it on the ice which was pretty cool.”
Though it might have only been an exhibition game, you can bet that showing that indigenous pride by wearing a customized Oilers shirt with his last name decked out in Cree is something he will never forget.