Fred Sasakamoose, one of the first Indigenous players in NHL history, died at age 86, his son, Neil, revealed on Facebook on Tuesday.
Sasakamoose was hospitalized Friday with a suspected case of COVID-19 after having symptoms for a couple of days. He was awaiting test results.
"The story of Sasakamoose's groundbreaking, 11-game NHL career with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54 was the culmination of years of dedication to overcoming adversity in pursuit of a dream, and the pivot point at which he turned his focus to helping others pursue their dreams," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
Following Sasakamoose's time with the Blackhawks, he helped build and develop minor hockey, as well as other sports, in the Ahtahkakoop First Nation in Saskatchewan, where he grew up.
In 1962, Sasakamoose became one of the founding members of the Northern Indian Hockey League. He was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2007 in the builder category.
Sasakamoose also previously served on the NHL Diversity Task Force. He was named to the Order of Canada in 2017.