Popsicle Brothers Report NHL 2017 – 1
By Gary Norris Gray and Michael – Louis Ingram
When you drive on the roads in winter, Black ice is always the most dangerous because you can’t see it coming…
With the beginning of the new season upon us, National Hockey League officials are awkwardly stumbling into the future, attempting to avoid some political Black Ice of their own…
P.K. Subban taking the Nashville Predators to the Stanley Cup Finals last season against the Pittsburgh Penguins was the signature moment of last season.
The trade – Subban even up for long-time Predator stalwart defenseman Shea Weber had major repercussions – it lit a fire under a fan base and franchise financially teetering and brought it into prominence as Subban opened the door for young Black hockey players around the world to join the party on the ice.
The Montreal Canadiens’ front office took the equivalent of blunt force trauma to the head in getting rid of the nonpareil defenseman, years younger than Weber, and a significant presence on and off the ice in Montreal.
The rise of the Predators and Subban put the NHL Southern Division on the map. The National Hockey League may be on a new road of history, Black history; but how it negotiates through the beginning may dictate how seriously it will be taken outside Canada.
Which brings up the bigger issue of can the League’s intelligentsia handle the individual flava of all its players. With the recent protests against police violence, NHL operatives were reaching out to players like Subban, Wayne Simmonds and Joel Ward to find out were they stood re standing for the American anthem. Seeing as how they are Canadian citizens, that’s kinda fucked up, dont’cha think?
Black players are making the game faster just as they have done in the past. In 1895-1925, Black Canadians let defensemen cross the offensive blue line for more scoring chances in the Colored Hockey League, based in Nova Scotia. They also allowed goalies to leave their feet to cover the puck. And last, historians George and Darril Fosty in the book “Black Ice” stated forward/center Eddie Martin was first to institute the slap shot into the sports lexicon.
The National Hockey League would adopt all of these rules after 1917, never giving the Black Canadian League credit.
LEAGUE RULES CHANGES
1. Last year the league wanted more scoring so they passed a league rule to shrink the leg pads of goalies. It did not work as the league wanted. Goaltenders just got bigger and faster. It did not work because defensemen also got bigger and faster. There were more blocked shots last year than ever before.
2. Next year, the league will shrink the chest protectors of net-minders. We will see if that works in 2018-19.
There is a possibility that the league will expand the goal net, making it wider and higher. Scoring needs to improve and this is one way to accomplish that goal.
The term ‘Goal Brother’ is coined by us in honor of Black hockey stars.
3. There are more Goal Brothers entering the National Hockey League in 2017-18 following in the skates of heroes pasts: Jarome Iginla-the current playing Black Godfather and true gentleman of the game;
Dirk Graham-number 33 the first Black captain and Head Coach; Grant Fuhr-the five time Stanley Cup Champion goaltender;
Ray Emery-my favorite goalie with his butterfly and stand-up net-minding style.
Emery was one of the first goalies to do so. Mike Grier was one of the strongest right wingers and a solid two -way player…
We would be amiss if we didn’t include the Best Hockey Player You Never Saw: Herbert Carnegie was a lightning fast center who should’ve been the first Black star in the NHL.
This O.G. (Original Goal Brotha) centered the famed Black Aces Line (M.McIntyre, H. Carnegie, O.Carnegie) as they were the scourge of Quebec in their heyday; and the Black Aces youth program started by Carnegie in Ontario over two generations ago should curry some favour to Carnegie’s legacy as a Builder for consideration to The Pro Hockey Hall of Fame…
Dustin Byfuglien is still the most intimidating back liner in the League. As a scoring threat on the power play, inside or from the point, the 6’5″ 270 pound Byfuglien is not nasty – he’s MacNasty – and you don’t want to have a “Board Meeting” with Big Buff.
In 2016-17, there were 25 veteran Goal Brothers strapping up their skates for their respective teams.
4. There is a new expansion team in the Western Conference – The Vegas Golden Knights will open its maiden season with all the other major sport leagues watching their every move in October; and the sneaky good Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s checking skills adding to a solid roster in Sin City.
Last year was a thrill because struggling teams that have been down and out for some time made the playoffs for the first time and upset the dominant playoff teams.
The Pittsburgh Penguins won back to back titles which had not been done since the late nineties by Hockeytown’s Red Machine, the Detroit Red Wings. Adding former Winnipeg Jet Ryan Reaves as winger/enforcer will no doubt turn up the heat on the cross – state rivalry with the Philadelphia Flyers – as if that pot needed to boil any more intensely than it already is…
There was hope in Nashville, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, Edmonton, and Phoenix that they can now truly compete and win Lord Stanley’s Cup with the combination of a nice blend of rookies and veterans.
Once again there was also bitter disappointment in Washington, New York Rangers, San Jose, Columbus and Chicago with good teams on the ice that under-achieved in the playoffs last year.
This year, Lord Stanley’s Cup might be traveling North of the Border with the improved Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. It has not been done since the 1993 Cup Champion Montreal Canadians.
In the East, the Montreal Canadiens are the pre-season favorite to win the Cup with Goal Brother Jeremiah Addison. The left winger was drafted in the 7th round by the Canadiens and Goal Brother Andreas Martinsen on defense. Les Habs can’t go wrong with Carey Price in net. Price is the best goalie in the league and Al Montoya can give Price that needed rest in a very long season.
The Washington Capitals should be the next contending team in the Eastern Conference, but they have more Demons to kill than Night of the Living Dead. Number 8 (Alex Ovechkin) must be greater than great to prevent another post-season nightmare.
This year it’s do or die for our capital city team. If the red, white, and blue do not win, the Washington Capital administration might have to blow up the Capitals.
Veteran Goal Brother Devante Smith-Pelly will make the right side strong again this year.
The Buffalo Sabres could be the most improved team in the Eastern Conference with what we call Goal Brother City-East with Buffalo Soldiers Justin Bailey, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Nicholas Baptiste, and Devante Stephens on the roster. There is a rumor stating that Kane might be going home to Vancouver; that would improve the Canucks but would hurt the growth of the Sabres. When the Sabres get a four star goalie, they will be on target to the Stanley Cup.
The New York Islanders are homeless again, going from Brooklyn’s Barclay Center to Long Island and Nassau Coliseum. This team continues to struggle with their veterans left winger Andrew Ladd, right winger Stephen Gionta and Captain-center John Tavares with contract issues. This team could implode and move to Seattle, Washington.
Goal Brother’s rookie goalie Christoper Gibson, and gritty second-year player right winger Joshua Ho-Sang who showed flashes of greatness at the end of last season, will be ready to contribute.
The Philadelphia Flyers will always play the Flyer way with the Broadway Bully Pedigree; and Goal Brother Wayne Simmonds exemplifies that play year in and year out.
When the Los Angeles Kings traded him it made the Orange and Black better on the ice. Simmonds will likely keep his eye on first rounder Nolan Patrick, who made the team as a rookie. Without a doubt the most versatile player on the Flyers, Simmonds has improved his play every year – and is a consistent 30-goal scorer who will give you The Hands – if you’re stupid enough to challenge him!
The New York Rangers will once again lean on “The King” goalie Henrik Lundqvist to get to the playoffs again. We really like the kid Chris Neil in net if the Rangers let him play. They will be a better team with a strong backup goalie for Lundqvist. The Rangers are keeping to tradition of not having a Goal Brother on ice (shoulda kept Anthony Duclair). They are once again looking at third or fourth place in Eastern Conference.
We all could be singing “O, Canada” in the playoffs with the improving Toronto Maple Leafs and center Auston Matthews and goalie Frederick Andersen.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will make somebody’s life miserable just because they can. Marc-Andre Fleury will be wearing a different Black and Gold uniform this year in Vegas; but the organization could be beginning their rebuilding project as veteran centers will skate for their supper and then some.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, right wingers Phil Kessel and Ryan Reaves, left wingers Bryan Rust and Scott Wilson are all in the mix, although Crosby and Malkin are least likely to move. Reaves moves from St. Louis to Pittsburgh at the right wing position and this will add muscle to the Penguin lineup. Can they win three Cups in a row? Because it has not been done in 50 years.
Next Time – To the wild Wild West! Count on The MIG Line (McClean, Ingram, Gray) to score throughout the 2017 – 18 season for The BASN Assassins!
END OF PART ONE
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 email@example.com
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