Popsicle Brothers 30 Second Timeout: 2016-17
By Gary Norris Gray and Michael – Louis Ingram
OAKLAND CA and PHILADELPHIA (BASN/BASN NEWSROOM) As the National Hockey League’s doors are slowly opening up to Black players; who have to keep making their point to continue the notion, that they too belong on the ice and can play the game. We scan the rink preparing for the playoffs with these new faces on the ice and the challenges they face.
This year’s Black players are having a strong influence in the National Hockey League with speed and power. They also bring a strong presence to the table with their respective skill sets. We at BASN salute the Goal Brothers on ice!
#88 Jarome Iginla-Los Angeles. Kings- The Black God-Father on Ice. Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunie Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is his birth name. Jarome was born in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. The first 18-year old that played for the provincial Calgary Flames in 1996.
He was named the 18th captain in 2003 and has often been mistaken for the first Black captain in the NHL. Yours truly learned that lesson too. That honor belongs to number 33 Dirk Graham, formerly of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Iginla is the 7th player to score 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons and well over 1290 total points but has yet to have his name etched on Lord Stanley’s Cup.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up the Black Godfather of hockey to the playoffs but the future looks dim with Los Angeles 12 points away from a wild card spot with 12 games left.
#23 J.T.Brown-Tampa Bay Lighting. Mr. Brown is one of the brightest African American stars in the National Hockey League, born in Burnsville, Minnesota. He made his Stanley Cup appearance against the dominate Chicago Blackhawks in 2014.
On June 24, 2016, the Lightning announced the re-signing of Brown to a two-year contract extension. Brown played in 78 regular season games during the past season, recording eight goals and 22 points. Brown was tied for third on the team with a plus-16 rating. Brown set career bests in games played, goals, points, plus/minus and penalty minutes last season.
He also appeared in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording two assists and two penalty minutes. Brown has skated in 198 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over four seasons, registering 15 goals and 51 points. He also has skated in 37 playoff games, recording a goal and six points.
J.T. Brown is giving back to the sport he loves — and encouraging more minorities to join him on the ice — via a unique hockey mentoring program in Tampa. He is becoming the Willie O’Ree of the 2000 era.
#33 Dustin Byfuglien-Winnipeg Jets– Mr. Byfuglien is my favorite player and another African American on the ice. Dustin is the best defenseman in the NHL too bad nobody is noticing. Buff is also one of the biggest defensemen that ever played the game and he uses his size to block offensive players and their shots on net. Dustin won the Stanley Cup with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawk team over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Hawks won the Cup on Philadelphia ice and the crowd was cordial until Dustin Byfuglien held the cup, skating around the rink. Boos and catcalls could be heard throughout Wachovia Arena, but that’s South Philly.
Teams forget that Buff has scoring power and can put the biscuit in the basket.Byfuglien was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003. Originally a defenseman at the start of the 2007 -08, he was moved to right wing to give the team a larger body near the net, an experiment that proved successful. Buff should have stayed there but the Atlanta Thrashers moved him back to the defensive position.
This year in Winnipeg he has scored 12 goals and 35 assists. The League has conveniently tucked him away in Midwest CANADA so Americans never get to see him play.
# 10 Anthony Duclair-Arizona Coyotes- Duclair was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2013. The Rangers never gave him a chance as he scored 5 points in the 2014 preseason and was shipped to the Arizona Coyotes. ‘The Duke’ has blossomed in the desert, scoring 23 goals and 32 assists as of this posting…
#66 Joshua Ho-Sang- New York Islanders- Ho-Sang sparked a minor controversy among hockey purists when he chose to wear sweater #66 for the Islanders. Ho-Sang stated he chose the number to pay homage to Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hockey fans in Pittsburgh still do not like it.
He was the second player, after Calgary Flames defenseman T. J. Brodie to wear the number after Lemieux in a regular season game. The League wants to retire number 66 just as the league retired Wayne Gretzky’s number 99. Until the league retires number 66 let the kid wear it and leave him alone.
This is the fastest man on the ice I’ve ever seen. Ho-Sang is very aggressive in the offensive zone, using his speed to pressure opposing defenses in disrupting their flow. Number 66 should have been with the parent team months ago but the NHL continues to play the color game. As a Goal Brother, he had to prove once again that he belonged. Ho-Sang scored three goals in one week with the Islanders when he was called up three weeks ago, pushing the Islanders toward the 2017 playoffs. Can’t wait to see this player get his wings and fly in the NHL next year!
# 3 Seth Jones-Columbus Blue Jackets- The son of basketball star Popeye Jones as the African American invasion can be seen in full force in 2017. Jones should have been the number one draft pick in 2013 but ended up being the fourth overall pick at 19 years old. Seth is dedicated to the game and proves it on the ice with his play.
Jones was shocked when the Nashville Predators traded him to the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets in the middle of the season last year. He is up to 39 points, 124 shots, 101 blocked shots and a plus-15 rating for the campaign while averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game. Jones is never going to pile on the PIM or hits, be a solid asset. He’s also worth a look in daily contests when Columbus faces an inferior opponent.
Jones knows how to win because he has been on four IIHF medal winning American teams in Russia, Czech Republic, and Germany. Now he is transferring this knowledge to Columbus – and is a solid building block for fans in Blue Jack City…
# 4 Caleb Jones- Edmonton Oilers The little brother of Seth Jones drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round in 2015 having a bust out year with the Western Hockey League Portland Winterhawks with 64 points and 9 goals. The NHL will be seeing him next year in the great Pacific Northwest.
#25 Darnell Nurse-Edmonton Oilers- Nurse was the first part of the rebuilding blocks for the future in Edmonton and it has finally shown up this year with a playoff position for the first time in seven years.
Nurse was drafted 7th overall in 2013 but his career was slowed by ankle surgery in 2016 that took him out of the season. The Sports gene runs deep in this family Darnell is the son of former Canadian Football League wide receiver Richard Nurse. His sister Kia plays on Canada’s national basketball team and Darnell is also the nephew of former NFL star quarterback Donovan McNabb (Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Football Club), who is married to Darnell’s aunt, Raquel Nurse McNabb.
After years of frustration, the Edmonton Oilers might be on the right track toward another Stanley Cup.
#21 Kyle Okposo, #9 Evander Kane, #56 Justin Bailey–Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres may be the NHL’s best-kept secret as they keep driving towards improving the product on the ice in 2017 with mid-season trades.
The New York Islanders let Kyle Okposo head north while the Winnipeg Jets sent Evander Kane east and drafted Justin Bailey. There is a buzz around this team of the future if they keep this trio.
Okposo missed two weeks with rib injuries but has been a very welcome addition to the Sabers offense this season, scoring 19 goals and 43 points in 63 games this season, the fourth straight season he’s scored at least 40 points.
Kane is been on fire the last three weeks and has put fear into the eyes of the eastern conference powerhouses, New York Rangers, Washington Capitols, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators.
Kane, finally healthy, has lit the lamp 10 times in the past 14 games, contributing three assists over that span. Kane’s ability to put pucks on net and past goalies will continue to make him an asset in Buffalo. He has passed the 25 goal mark last week and will continue to fight hard for the Sabers.
Bailey, A hometown guy born and raised in Buffalo is another African American with sports lineage, the son of Buffalo Bill linebacker Carlton Bailey. He could not wait to be a part of this new exciting team in the northeast. Justin was drafted in 2013 and has yo-yo’ed from Buffalo to the AHL affiliate Rochester Americans the past three and half years.
He was reassigned to Rochester on February 18, only to be recalled again three days later following an injury to Ryan O’Reilly. He scored his first NHL goal on January 3, 2017, against King Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. The right winger may become the needed addition to the team’s offensive firepower. This team could be the new scoring machine in the east and challenge the Pittsburgh Penguins next year.
#29 Johnny Oduya-Chicago Blackhawks– The Black Swede got drafted in 2001 by the Washington Capitols and was then traded a year later to the New Jersey Devils to become the stalwart on defense for this northeast team. Oduya returns to his 2nd home solidifying the Hawk defense. He has played in the Stanley Cup playoffs and won two of them, scoring 19 goals in 8 years.
Oduya’s strength, aside from his skating ability, is his judgment. Rarely out of position, he is a sneaky fast skater and calculating in deciding when to jump into a rush. That aspect alone would make him an asset to any team’s defensive corps.
#17 Wayne Simmonds-Philadelphia Flyers – Number 17 is the heart, body, and soul of the Philadelphia Flyers. Wayne Simmonds exemplifies what this team stands for, The Broad Street Bullies of the 1970’s. Wayne the Train leaves everything on the ice every night Simmonds became a favorite among L.A. fans for his strong work ethic on and off the ice, a trait he has said was instilled within him by his parents. Coming to the City of Brotherly Love Simmonds worked even harder to please the fans in Philly.
Wayne Simmonds was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and played well in Hollywood in 2007-2011. Hockey fans love a mucker and grinder because that means he is working hard to get the puck.
Since his trade to Philly, Simmonds has improved in every aspect of his game each year, now breaking the 30 – goal barrier in back -to – back seasons. Always among the league leaders in power play goals, Simmonds is money around the net and is on the ‘don’t fuck with’ list of players who can really fight that aren’t hired muscle.
Simmonds not only earned his first all – Star selection, he was named MVP and scored the winning goal in the L.A. reunion…
#76 P.K. Subban-Nashville Predators– P.K. has found a southern home in Nashville after the Montreal Canadiens released him last year.
The Canadiens drafted him in the 2nd round in 2007 and won the James Norris Trophy in 2013. He was the best player on the team and should have been named captain but because of the Quebecois pedigree, Subban never had a chance.
Subban then played all 82 games during 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, in which he registered a total of 53 points, ten of which were goals. During the 2014 post-season, he was Les Canadiens most lethal weapon, registering 14 points in 17 games as the Canadiens ultimately reached the Eastern Conference Finals, upsetting the hated Boston Bruins before succumbing to the Rangers.
Subban has invested heavily in the Montreal community by giving funds to various agencies (among them a $10 million cdn donation to Montreal Children’s Hospital) but he could not win the front – office war and went off to Nashville, Tennessee. and a peace of mind. The straight – up trade for All-League defenseman Shea Weber remains the pivotal move of this season. Both must make the playoffs, and both must make a significant impact in same…
The proof that it was more about politics than talent came to bear when Nashville came to the Bell Centre – where a video tribute and a two – minute standing ovation awaited an emotional P.K.
#70 Malcolm Subban-Boston Bruins- The brother of P.K. Subban is the backup goaltender for the black and gold Boston Bruins. Malcolm keeps being shuttled back and forth to the parent team, the Providence Bruins. He has played only a single game this year and might be heading out of the Hub City with free agency the end of this year.
The Boston Bruins sometimes put Subban in unwinnable situations and the talented goalie has trouble dealing with. He has a tough time following in his star-studded brother, P.K.
#25 Devante Smith-Pelly-New Jersey Devils– Smith-Pelly moved from the West Coast- Anaheim Ducks to the East Coast-New Jersey Devils.
Drafted in 2010 by the Anaheim Ducks and has played in the Stanley Cup twice one for the Ducks and one for the Montreal Canadiens.
In the 2015- 16 season, Smith-Pelly got off to a strong start with the Canadiens as they started a franchise-best nine straight wins to start the year. With a mid-season collapse in form and despite contributing with a career-best six goals through 46 games, he was dealt by the Canadiens to the New Jersey Devils, just a little over a year from when he was acquired on February 29, 2016, in exchange for Stefan Matteau.
Smith-Pelly is now the elder for the young Jersey Devils. He has become the teacher and on-ice coach.
#75 Ryan Reaves-St. Louis Blues- This not-so- invisible man comes from an athletic family, his father Willard played fullback for the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers and his brother suited up for the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
Reaves is the NHL modern day enforcer who speaks softly but throws down a big lick. His size speaks for him. Reaves has scored 20 goals so far in his NHL career.
#42 Joel Ward-San Jose Sharks- Ward, has been called Mr. Consistency standing at the blue line snapping hard slap shots for goals for his team. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years already and a start in Minnesota. He changed the Washington Capital defense system where the defensemen could be part of the offense.
In the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs The Boston Bruin crowd rode Ward the whole series. In the seventh game, Joel Ward shut them down with an overtime goal from the point eliminating the defending champion Boston Bruins.
Ward has improved the San Jose defense which sometimes forgets to screen out letting players fly by the blue line creating havoc for the Shark defense. Most importantly, no matter where he has played, Ward makes his teammates better. San Jose had no true grit until Ward showed up!
#6 Trevor Daley, Pittsburgh Penguins – After years of being the starting defenseman for the Dallas Stars, Daley became a needed cog in the engine of the Pittsburgh Penguins stretch drive toward gaining the Cup. He stabilized the back line and guided them to the playoff despite a late season injury which knocked him out of most of the post-season. Daley’s asset is his steadiness. He rarely beats himself and can spank it pretty good from the point on specials…
#7 Chris Stewart, Minnesota Wild: Seen y some as a bit of an enigma, Stewart came into the league as a goal scorer; led the Colorado Rockies in goals one year (28) and scored five in a playoff series against st. Louis where they should’ve upset the Blues – but were betrayed by bad play in net.
After bouncing around a couple teams, he seems to have found a home in Minnesota. Because of his potential scoring ability and physical play, Stewart could be a valuable wild for Minnesota should they make it postseason action…
Our Asian brothers are also beginning to hit the ice with style and grace.
#16 Matt Dumba- Minnesota Wild- Dumba is one of the first Filipino players on the ice. The Wild selected him with the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Dumba previously played junior in Alberta with the Red Deer Rebels..
He has bounced back and forth in the minors and the American Hockey League. Dumba returned to the parent club this year and is on a tear with 10 goals and 16 assist.
#22 Devin Setoguchi- Los Angeles Kings Devin is of Japanese descent and was a crowd favorite in San Jose In the 2010-11 season with the Sharks, on February 19, 2011, Setoguchi scored his first ever NHL hat trick in a 4-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche.
On April 19, 2011, Setoguchi scored the game-winner in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings to make the 1st round playoff series 2-1. On May 4, 2011, Setoguchi completed a hat trick in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-finals against the Detroit Red Wings by scoring an OT goal to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead in the series. Devin is currently playing with The Los Angeles Kings after a two-year stay in The Swedish League.
#15 Andong Song- New York Islanders Song played the Beijing International Ice Hockey League before moving to Canada at the age of ten. The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey filled his teenage years on the ice. The Native Chinese got hooked watching the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.
Song was drafted by the New York Islanders in the sixth round and will be on the ice soon Currently Song is playing for the BIG RED at Cornell
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE: – The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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