SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
The Best On The Ice
Jarome Iginla, Right Wing, Calgary Flames
The first Black player drafted in the first round (11th overall) by the Dallas Stars in 1995 Entry Draft. Iginla was the first Black non goalie to play in the Stanley Cup Finals, and was the second Black captain of an NHL team (Chicago’s Dirk Graham was the first). He has won many awards while playing for the Flames. This year Iggy scored 32 goals with 37 assists as the heart and soul of the Calgary Flames. This year was disappointing for the Flames, but Iginla still helped his team race toward the Stanley Cup playoffs. Calgary missed the playoffs by a single point.
Dustin Byfuglien, Right Wing, Chicago Blackhawks
This was the breakout year for “Big Buff”. He saved his best for the Western Conference Finals against the San Jose Sharks, scoring three game-winning goals in three consecutive games. Chicago drafted him in the 8th round in 2003 as a defenseman. However he was moved from defense to wing after he kept showing scoring skills.
Byfgulien has eight goals in this year’s Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals. He has built up his body mass (6-feet-4, 260 pounds) while becoming a force around the net. Defenders cannot move him out of the slot making life miserable for opposing goalies (ask Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Evgeni Nabokov with San Jose).
He deflects teammates’ shots into the net for Chicago goals. He should be a prominent player in the upcoming Stanley Cup Finals which begin Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers.
Evander Kane, Left Wing, Atlanta Thrashers
An outstanding first-year players that everybody is watching. His play in Atlanta merited consideration for Rookie of The Year honors. The second Black player drafted in the first round, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Kane will be a force to deal with in the future.
He scored 14 goals with 12 assists this year and also played in this year’s World Championships. No. 9 missed 15 games with a broken foot and that impeded his progress this year.
Nigel Dawes, Left Wing, Calgary Flames
Dawes teamed with Jerome Iginla this year and it has really improved his game. Drafted in the 5th round by the New York Rangers in 2003, New York had a gem on the ice and never fully utilized it. They traded him to the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2008 season, marking a transition point for Nigel. Dawes scored 14 goals with 18 assists this year. His speed and checking the opponent into the boards is a plus for his new team in Canada.
DEFENSE Bryce Salvador, Defenseman, New Jersey Devils
Drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1994. Salvador became a free agent in 1997 and signed with the St. Louis Blues. He improved the porous Blues defensive line but still had to understand and execute the many different systems in defending his goal.
He would get this chance in New Jersey. In 2008, Salvador was traded to the Devils and has fit right in to the Jersey Left Wing Lock system. Goalie Martin Brodeur is very happy Salvador is wearing a Black, Red, and White sweater.
Johnny Oduya, Defensemen, Atlanta Thrashers
After playing many years for the New Jersey Devils’ organization, he carried the system to his new teammates in Atlanta. Oduya could be called an offensive defenseman, starting many scoring chances in his own zone. Originally drafted by the Washington Capitols in 2001, Oduya was also a member of the Swedish Olympic hockey squad in Vancouver, Canada.
Mark Fraser, Defenseman, New Jersey Devils
At 6-feet-3 and 220 pounds, Fraser is one of the bigger defensemen in the NHL. The Devils drafted him in the third round back in 2005. If anybody wants to understand the Devils Left Wing Lock system, just watch Mr. Fraser on the ice.
He has protected Martin Brodeur many nights when No. 30 was having a bad episode in net. He has never lost his zeal for the game after being sent down to the minors with the Lowell Devils in 2007-08. Fraser will be the backbone of the Devils defense for many years.
P.K. Subban, Defensemen, Montreal Canadiens
After coming up during Montreal’s playoff drive, Subban showed flashes of offensive brilliance. Many believe that this man will also change position like Dustin Byfuglien because he exhibits scoring skills around the net.
Subban was called up near the end of the season and has shown so much promise for the future. He scored a goal and 3 assists in this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs GOALIE
Ray Emery, Philadelphia Flyers
Signed by the Flyers after an All-Star season in Russia’s Super League, Emery won the starting spot with the Flyers before the hip surgery in late February forced him to end his season early.
Drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2001, he helped lead the Sens into the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals. There were issues off the ice that made life difficult for Ray Emery.
He was an avid boxing fan and put his hero’s on his mask. Many did not like the photo of Mike Tyson. This photo created a rift between the fans, Emery, and the Ottawa Senator organization.
The double standard once again when white goalies can put anything on their mask with little or no complains. Demons, blood, and gore don their masks.
Emery had a 16-11-1 record with three shutouts and a 2.64 GAA with a .910 save percentage over 29 games in 2010 and had a seven game winning streak before the injury in Philadelphia.
This is a fine record for any goaltender. However, Emery has never received the respect and admiration in net and the Senators have never solved their problems in net since his departure from Ottawa.
It’s unfortunate that this man will miss the Flyers’ Stanley Cup run. His career could be over with the elevation of Michael Leighton in net.
Kevin Weekes, NHL Network
After just missing 300 career victories (298) and 20 career shutouts (19) during his 14-year career, Weekes expounds on his hockey knowledge in the broadcasting booth at the NHL Network. He is the first Black to move upstairs to voice his opinions. You can see him on Hockey Night in Canada and NHL on the Fly.
Those are my 2010 stars of the year on the ice. Sending a hot, hard blue line pass to fellow BASN Goal Brother, Michael Louis-Ingram, for helping me to lay down some historic Black hockey knowledge.