Popsicle Brothers 2014 Roll Call
By Michael – Louis Ingram
PHILADELPHIA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM) After a breakneck 49 game sprint which helped the Chicago Blackhawks gain Lord Stanley’s cup, the grind returns as a full slate of hockey is ready to serve.
My colleague Gary Gray and the rest of our BASN contributors are ready to provide information; and stand prepared to respond to the new group of Goal Brothas and how they make their mark within the National Hockey League universe…
The NHL is gonna have some growing pains with how they deal with Black players becoming more prominent in the League. Are they going to be revealed to be more John Vanbiesbrouck in their approach, or will they be about recognizing the universal credo of “best man plays?”
Here are a dozen Goal Brothas who are going to be under the spotlight; and will have what we feel to be key roles in the future fortunes of their respective teams:
10 (tie). Seth Jones, Defenseman, Nashville Predators, Dustin Byfgulien, Defenseman/Forward, Winnipeg Jets:
Acknowledged by those that would know as the most ‘pro – ready’ player in the Draft, three teams (including Colorado, where new man and former Avalanche great Joe Sakic had a connection), the 6’4” Jones falls into the waiting arms of the Predators, where he will understudy with the great Shea Weber.
Add Pekka Rinne’s impeccable work in the net, and if Nashville wasn’t already annoying given their defensive style, they may really be a pain in the ass now!
As for Byfuglien, Winnipeg can be major beneficiaries – from the move to the Central Division as well as the emergence of Ondrej Pavelec in net, Big Buff’s presence as a back liner, on the power play or as a forward gives the Jets great versatility. Buff’s 6’5” 265 pound frame also reminds opponents to think twice before looking to mess with the other Jets skill players.
9. Kyle Okposo, Right Wing, New York Islanders
As center John Tavares was showing the hockey world how talented he can be, Okposo, after early season injuries and a scoring drought, really picked it up in the playoffs. With the eventual move to the Barclays Center still a year – plus away, management may not yet have decided who (aside from Tavares) may be part of that corps of players which make up their foundation. This is the year where Okposo should leave no doubt he belongs on the Island.
8. Nazem Kadri, Left Wing, Toronto Maple Leafs
A perfect example of “best man plays” Kadri (who I felt was held back by Maple Leaf management) helped the Leafs back to the playoffs for the first time in eight years, scoring 44 points (18G, 26A) in the abbreviated season.
Kadri gives Toronto offensive firepower that has been sorely lacking, and while acknowledged as a breakout player, a 35-45 goal season would not be a surprise; “The Naz” – is one bad rascal.
7. Chris Stewart, Right Wing, St. Louis Blues:
After leading the Avalanche in scoring three years ago, a trade to St. Louis proved to be a solid move after the work stoppage “blues” finally subsided. At 6’2” and 230 pounds, Stewart is a true power forward that will scrap and score. With him at his best, the Blues are poised to be a power in the Central Division.
6. Johnny Oduya, Defenseman, Chicago Blackhawks:
For a couple seasons now, we’ve noticed how Oduya’s skills on ice were paying dividends for New Jersey and Atlanta/Winnipeg. His ability to join in on rushes, carry the puck and work the point on the power play came in to full bloom during the Blackhawks’ run for the Stanley Cup (emerging with a plus – 12 rating on ice), and now he anchors one of the best defensive groupings in the league.
5. P.K. Subban, Defenseman, Montreal Canadiens:
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it seems no player in the NHL right now gets more heat in terms of critique than the multi – talented Subban. As a back liner who was a point or two away from being his team’s leading scorer, Subban can be the second coming of Paul Coffey at one moment and nasty in the corners at the next.
No longer the home of the “Flying Frenchmen,” Subban has shown with his skill sets that the Bleu Blanc Et Rouge had better keep him; he is the first Montreal defenseman to record a hat trick as a rookie (2011 season) won this year’s Norris Trophy and made all NHL First Team last season.
P.K. will fight, and, as shown last year, has a murderous shot from nearly anywhere outside the crease.
4. Bryce Salvador (Captain), Defenseman, New Jersey Devils:
With transition being of grave importance to giving the Devils their due, the quiet move to put the captain’s “C” on Salvador was as excellent as snagging Cory Schneider from Vancouver as an heir – apparent to the great Martin Brodeur. Salvador is as steady as the day is long, and keeps his charges focused as they morph through different defensive schemes. Now joining Dirk Graham and Jarome Iginla as team captains, Salvador may somehow guide his Devils to a playoff spot; and totally piss off everyone else in the Eastern Conference.
3. Wayne Simmonds, Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers:
As with Okposo, everything seems in a perfect position for Simmonds to succeed. After the shortened season exposed Philly’s lack of scoring punch, Flyers pick up a proven scorer in ex – Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier, who will likely center a line with Simmonds.
Since coming to the City of Brotherly Love, Simmonds rewarded head coach Peter Laviolette’s faith in added ice time with his best scoring year (28G, 21A, 49 points) including contributions on the power play.
Already known for his “Gordie Howe” hat tricks (goal, assist and fight), Wayne’s wiry 6’ 2” frame belies his toughness. If home fans were wary early on, they have since embraced Simmonds as being “a Flyer” in the purest sense; so 30 – plus goals alongside a sniper that may have something to prove as well could make for a great formula for post – season aspirations.
2. Evander Kane, Left Wing, Winnipeg Jets:
Everything is there for Evander Kane to be “the next” as we recognize Jarome Iginla as Goal Brother Number One, Kane has the ability to now be Bobby Byrd to Iginla’s James Brown.
Supremely talented, Kane not only has the skills but the charisma to match; and while we already know marketing stars below the Canadian border has been a problem for Commissioner Gary Bettman, he would do well to not ignore hockey’s version of the Big Daddy Kane. Perhaps a division championship may wake Bettman from his promotion slumber before a memo has to come down from Up North.
1a. Ray Emery, Goalie, Philadelphia Flyers:
Since the tragedy of Pelle Lindbergh in 1977, the Flyers have been searching for someone to be the answer in net. While there have been some shining moments (Ron Hextall as MVP for the losing Flyers versus Edmonton) the missing link has lurked between the pipes.
After leading the Ottawa Senators to a Stanley Cup final with only one offensive line, injuries and naysayers have impeded Emery’s emergence. Even during a previous stint in Philly, Emery showed winning form, but almost lost his career to the same necrosis which ended Bo Jackson’s.
Not only did Emery come back strong, he did something no NHL goaltender has ever done – he won his first 12 games outright – no ties, and capped off his season with an unreal 17 – 1 – 1 record in a goal as another slight injury pushed coach Joel Quenneville to go with teammate Cory Crawford. Crawford helped deliver the Cup, but Emery’s efforts cannot be denied – and his name goes on the Cup along with Edmonton Oilers goalies Eldon “Pokey” Reddick and the great Grant Fuhr.
Philly may have answered its net minder situation long-term with adding Emery and Steve Mason (who showed promise as Columbus’ goaltender in Blue Jack City). The Flyers’ faithful are not used to being out of the playoff mix; knowing Emery is walking in the door with something they all want may make a difference come post – season.
1. Jarome Iginla, Right Wing, Boston Bruins:
Last year, The Calgary Flames’ all – everything left to claim his shot at The Cup. With Boston and The Pittsburgh Penguins interested in him, Iginla turned down a trade to Boston to go to Pittsburgh. No doubt pissed – off by the move, the Bruins went on to spank Pittsburgh, reading beleaguered goalie Marc – Andre Fluery like the sports section of the Boston Globe.
No doubt affected by Cup Lust (and who can blame him?) Iggy forgot that oldest of sports adages: offense wins games, defense wins championships; Tuukka Rask clearly outplayed Fleury, perhaps prompting the move to Beantown.
Now that the additions of Emery, Oduya and forward Jamal Mayers make it six Goal Brothas on the Cup (don’t forget Bygfulien’s on from 2010) the hope is that one of the greatest to ever play and a sure Hall of Famer will see his name engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
So as the puck is about to drop, the first thing we’ve decided to do is give everyone an overview of who is where and what number to check in your respective programs – so without further ado, here’s the Goal Brothas Roll Call – as we take it around the League (all players listed without numbers are in either in transition via free agency or in the respective minor league system of that team):
Anaheim Ducks: Emerson Etem #65 (RW), Devante Smith – Pelly #77 (RW);
Boston Bruins – Jarome Iginla #12 (RW)
Buffalo Sabres – Kevin Sundher (C)
Calgary Flames – Mark Cundari #42 (D)
Carolina Hurricanes – Austin Levi #55 (D)
Chicago Blackhawks – Johnny Oduya #27 (D), Travis Brown #64 (D), Theo Peckham #78 (D)
Dallas Stars – Trevor Daley #6 (D);
Detroit Red Wings – Jordin Tootoo #22 (RW)
Edmonton Oilers – Darnell Nurse #74 (D)
Florida Panthers – Scott Gomez #23 (C)
Los Angeles Kings – Jordin Nolan #71 – (C); Dwight King #74 (LW); Alec Martinez #53 (D),
Montreal Canadiens – Rene Bourque #17 (RW); Francis Bouillion #55 (D); P.K. Subban #76 (D); Akim Aliu
Minnesota Wild – Mathew Dumba #55 (D)
Nashville Predators – Seth Jones #3 (D)
New Jersey Devils – Bryce Salvador (Captain) #24 (D)
New York Islanders – Kyle Okposo #21 (RW)
Philadelphia Flyers – Wayne Simmonds #17 (RW); Ray Emery #29 (G)
Phoenix Coyotes – Paul Bissonnette #12 (LW)
San Jose Sharks – Raffi Torres #13 (LW); Sena Acolatse #62 (D)
St. Louis Blues – Ryan Reaves #75 (RW); Chris Stewart #25 (RW)
Tampa Bay Lighting – J.T. Brown #23 (RW)
Toronto Maple Leafs – Nazem Kadri #43 (LW); Mark Fraser #2 (D)
Vancouver Canucks – Darren Archibald #49 (RW)
Washington Capitals – Joel Ward #42 (RW)
Winnipeg Jets – Evander Kane #9 (LW); Devin Setoguchi #40 (RW); Dustin Byfuglien #33 (D); Al Montoya #35 (G);
In Part Two – the Popsicle Brothers will offer their picks for who will do damage in the newly – aligned NHL.
To be continued…
Goal Ingram 1 (Gray) 9:01, first period.
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