Jason Payne has been hired by the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones, making him the only Black head coach in North American professional hockey next season.

Payne, 45, was promoted from assistant coach after Cyclones head coach Matt Thomas was hired by the Providence Bruins of the AHL. Payne, who grew up in Toronto, had a 14-year pro career as a player, making it as far as the AHL.

Payne said "there weren't many Black coaches as I was coming up, but when there were, you took notice." Payne hopes his hiring will help inspire others.