Yutaka Fukufuji
Yutaka Fukufuji
Position Goaltender
Catches Left
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
198 lb (90 kg)
Eredivisie Team
F. Teams
Destil Trappers
Bakersfield Condors (ECHL)
Manchester Monarchs (AHL)
Los Angeles Kings (NHL)
Reading Royals (ECHL)
Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL)
Kokudo Lions (AL)
Nationality Japan
Born September 17 1982 (1982-09-17) (age 34),
Kushiro, Hokkaidō, JPN
NHL Draft 238th overall, 2004
Los Angeles Kings
Pro Career 2002 – present

Yutaka Fukufuji is a Japanese ice hockey player currently with the Nikko Ice Bucks of the Asia League Ice Hockey. Fukufuji was the first Japanese player to appear in a National Hockey League game.[1] He is the first Japanese citizen to be drafted as a goaltender in the NHL and second Japanese national to be drafted.

Playing careerEdit

Fukufuji was born in Kushiro, Hokkaidō, Japan.[2][3] He played on the Kokudo hockey team of Asia League Ice Hockey in 2001. He was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2004 entry draft in the 8th round, 238th overall.[2] He made his North American debut on February 7, 2003 with the ECHL Cincinnati Cyclones. He was voted the ECHL rookie of the month in January 2003. He played for the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL in 2004–05 leading the team in wins, GAA, and shutouts.[3] Fukufuji signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings in August 2005. After starting the 2005–06 season with the Reading Royals, the Kings ECHL franchise, Yutaka was the number 2 goalie on the AHL Manchester Monarchs for a time.

On December 15, 2006, Fukufuji was called up on to the Los Angeles Kings on emergency basis.[2] He became the first Japanese-born player to dress for an NHL game, but he did not play.[2]

When goaltender Mathieu Garon was placed on injured reserve with a broken finger, Fukufuji was again recalled and flew in from Cleveland, Ohio to dress as backup to goalie Barry Brust.[2] On January 13, 2007, Fukufuji made his first NHL appearance, the first by a Japanese-born player, when Kings head coach Marc Crawford decided to put him in to start the third period of a game against the St. Louis Blues.[2] Fukufuji entered the game with the Kings trailing 5-4. He allowed one goal in the period, and the Kings also scored one goal while he was in net. The final score of the game was 6-5 in favor of St. Louis; as Fukufuji was the goaltender who allowed the decisive sixth St. Louis goal, he was assessed the loss.[2][3]

On January 16, 2007, Fukufuji made history again when he became the first player born in Japan to start in an NHL game, as he began the game in goal for the Kings against the Atlanta Thrashers.[2]

Fukufuji was not presented with a qualifying offer by the Kings before the 2007–08 season, but returned to the Condors on September 10, 2007 after signing a contract for the 2007–08 season.[4]

On May 25, 2009, Fukufuji was signed by the Destil Trappers of the Eredivisie, the top league in the Netherlands.[5] After one full season with Destil Trappers Fukufuji signed with Nikko Ice Bucks on July, 2010.

Career statisticsEdit

Season   Team                        Lge    GP   MIN   GA  EN SO   GAA   W   L   T    SV   Pct
2002-03  Cincinnati Cyclones         ECHL    9   403   21   1  0  3.13   4   3   0   226  0.915
2004-05  Bakersfield Condors         ECHL   44  2517  104   1  3  2.48  27   9   5  1182  0.919
2005-06  Manchester Monarchs         AHL     2   120    6   0  0  3.00   1   1   0    72  0.923
2005-06  Reading Royals              ECHL   29  1691   82   3  1  2.91  15   9   4   909  0.917
2006-07  Los Angeles Kings           NHL     4    96    7   0  0  4.37   0   3   0    36  0.837
2006-07  Reading Royals              ECHL   28  1522   75   2  1  2.96  13  10   0   718  0.905
2006-07  Manchester Monarchs         AHL     5   261    4   0  1  0.92   3   1   0   111  0.965
2007-08  Bakersfield Condors         ECHL   46  2427  137   3  1  3.39  18  18   1  1219  0.899
2008-09  Bakersfield Condors         ECHL   35  1821  100   2  0  3.29  18  12   1   917  0.902


  1. Grossman, Evan. "NHL Insider: When It Comes To Hockey, It's A Small World", National Hockey League, 2007-03-14. Retrieved on 2007-08-01.  The first Japanese draft pick, Hiroyuki Miura, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1992 NHL Draft, but never played in an NHL game. A fictional Japanese player, Taro Tsujimoto, was a name "plucked out of the Buffalo telephone book" as a joke in 1974 by Buffalo Sabres GM Punch Imlach.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Matsuda, Gann. "Fukufuji Proud Of Season As He Looks Forward", Rafu Shimpo, 2007-02-21, p. 2 (story not available on Rafu Shimpo web site, but is reprinted with permission on the Online Kingdom). Retrieved on 2007-08-01. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Wigge, Larry. "Kings Goalie Is First Native Japanese Player In The NHL", National Hockey League, 2007-01-16. Retrieved on 2007-08-01. 
  4. Griffith, Mike. "Condors 'Delighted' At Fukufuji's Return", Bakersfield Californian, 2007-09-11. Retrieved on 2007-09-25. 
  5. "Trappers sign Japanese goalie". Destil Trappers (2009-05-25). Retrieved on 2009-05-31.

External linksEdit

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