Jason Pominville and Val James inducted into Amerks Hall of Fame

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Two Rochester Americans legends were honored by on Friday, being inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Jason Pominville, who played for the Amerks from 2002-06 and Val James, who wore the red, white, and blue from 1980-85 were the only members of the Class of 2023. They are now a part of an exclusive club of 67 former players, coaches, and other Amerks legends that are in the organization’s Hall of Fame.

Pominville was once a crowd favorite, and enjoyed a long career in the NHL that included over 700 games with the Buffalo Sabres. But because of how the Amerks treated him, Rochester also felt like home.

“Just being accepted I guess in the community here and knowing that you have the support and the fanbase to do so,” said Pominville.

The former Amerks right winger said the best part of Friday night was getting to spend it with his family.

“I think just having my kids here, I guess. Just for them to actually be here and be able to see where I played and where I lived for four years and being back in Western New York and having my parents here also is special. Mostly for my kids to really be able to see what dad used to do,” said Pominville.

For James, Rochester is also like home. However, his story is much different. James broke the NHL’s color barrier as the first Black American to play in the NHL when he suited up for the Sabres in the 1981-82 season. He experienced racism in a league of almost exclusively white players.

“I can remember going to rinks and there would be people coming to rinks dressed in KKK outfits sitting right there in the front row and sat there for the whole game. And all the cat calls you here people talking about, that went on constantly,” said James.

Because of the courage shown by James on the ice, it opened the door for other Black hockey players. Rochester goalkeeper Malcolm Subban said James is someone he looks up to.

“Being the first one to do it. That’s kind of what I mean by role model. Obviously looking up to him as a kid and saying, this guy’s done it, it’s possible for me to do it,” said Subban.

Subban and the rest of the Amerks players and fans were able to watch a pregame ceremony for Pominville and James.

The Amerks fell to the Charlotte Checkers, 4-2.