A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis...
99 Flavas â€“ The NHLâ€™s Menu
A recent discussion on numbers kicked this effort into effect.
The dialogue centered on who was the greatest player to ever wear a specific number. In New York City, interest was piqued due to the pedigree of the Yankees (i.e. Jeter #2, Ruth #3, Gehrig #4, DiMaggio #5, & Mantle’s #7, etc.) as those “greatest” players representing those single-digits.
Now I figured just about everyone in Boston probably lost their minds behind that when you consider that a gentleman named Bobby Orr owned # 4 during his period of sustained excellence; making separate delineations among the major sports a natural imperative.
So we started kickin’ this around for Hockey only; could we come with enough Goal Brothers & Flavas to cover every number to 99?
Well, we’re about to find out, but first… There is an undiscovered history with Black Canadians, African Americans, multi ethnic Blacks in the National Hockey League. This is the short history of the names and numbers of these fine athletes. We celebrate the Goal Brothers on the ice during Black History Month. In 1958 Willie O’Ree (#22) put on the Black and Gold of the Boston Bruins and wore the number 22. O’ Ree was the first Black professional on ice. O’Ree was the first disabled player on the ice, which nobody mentions. Willie played most of his career with one eye because of a hockey accident. O’Ree is the spokesmen for the league and has seminars in the inner cities to attract minorities to the game of hockey. Dirk Graham right winger (#33 – C), who was the first Black Captain on the ice. Graham played for the Minnesota North Stars and Chicago Blackhawks. He was a tough checker and winner of the Frank J. Selke Award for the best defensive forward in 1991. He also has the distinction of being the first Black head coach in the league in 1998-99 taking the Chicago Blackhawks to the Finals losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Graham’s reward was getting fired. Tony Anthony Syiid McKegney (#25) played 13 years in the National Hockey League drafted by the Buffalo Sabers in 1978 Amateur Draft and the World Hockey Association Birmingham team. Hockey Fans in Birmingham were not happy to have a Black player on the team and threatened to boycott games. Boy, the WHA missed a great player as McKegney would score over 300 goals. He had eight 20 goal seasons and Calgary’s Jarome Iginla would break his 78 point season by a Black player. He played for many teams in his long career (Quebec Nordiques, Minnesota North Stars, New York Rangers, St. Louis Blues and Detroit Red Wings). Tony was the first Black player to score 40 goals in one season. McKegney would end his hockey days with the San Diego Gulls of the International Hockey League in 1992-93. Grant Fuhr (#1, #31, HHOF) was drafted 8th overall in 1981 ten years later would be traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs who in turn traded him to the Buffalo Sabres. He guided the lowly Sabres to the Stanley Cup Finals – and was the first Black to win a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers. Fuhr was one of the greatest goalies of modern times. Fuhr is also the first Black player to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame. The closing of Fuhr’s career was with the St. Louis Blues taking them to the playoffs in 1996 as Nick Kypreos ran into Fuhr in the goalie crease tearing up his knee. Fuhr would play four more years with the Calgary Flames and Florida Panthers in 2000-01 but he was never the same. On October 22, 1999 he received his 400 victory. He is the first Black goalie to have this record. Fuhr is now the goalie coach for the Phoenix Coyotes. Valmore James (#20) The burly left winger was the first African – American to put on a hockey jersey. James was like the Cleveland Indians’ baseball star Larry Doby, coming in at number two. Few notice James because of this fact. While O’Ree got all the accolades for being the first Black in the league, James was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1977 played for the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs. Many players from other teams have stated that he was the hardest puncher they have ever met. Guess the minor league boxing career could have helped him stay out of trouble in the NHL. He ended his career with the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League and the Flint Sprits of the International League in 1988. Jarome Arthur Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla (#12 – C) Goal Brotha #1 is a right winger with the Calgary Flames and the second Black player to captain a NHL team. With a name like that, one better be good and Iginla did not disappoint anyone. He is a six- time All Star and leader for the Flames. He was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 1995 Entry Draft 11th overall. The Stars traded him to Calgary for Joe Nieuwendyk, one of the biggest mistakes in the Stars’ history. He was the first 18 year old to play in the Stanley Cup since 1983. Iginla was named rookie of the year and Calder Memorial Trophy winner. He helped the Canadian Olympic team to the gold medal with the assist on Sidney Crosby’s game winning goal. Iginla is leading the drive for Calgary to make the playoffs this year.
Donald Brashear left winger ended his career with number 87 with the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. Known as “The Enforcer” few players ever crossed him. Brashear will be forever known as the player that got cold cocked by a hockey stick from behind by Marty McSorley – one of the ugliest moments in hockey history. Dustin Byfuglien (#33 – A) right winger-defensemen, drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003, was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers after changing his number from #52 to #33 in honor of the first black captain on the ice Dirk Graham (other black players have done likewise). The Blackhawks might be wishing he was wearing red and black instead of sky blue as they struggle to make the playoffs. Byfuglien helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup last year and has raised the expectation bar for the Atlanta Thrashers. He is back at his original position on defense. Big Buff is part of the new wave of players with speed, strength, and scoring power. Byfuglien is the Alternate Captain for the Thrashers, which shows leadership. This year he went to the All Star Game. Dustin Byfuglien is the future of the NHL. Trevor Daley (#6) defense played for the Dallas Stars who also had Jarome Iginla and traded him. The Stars learned their lesson and kept Daley. In a hideous incident, Daley took issue with his minor league coach and General Manager John Vanbiesbrouck calling him names because he was Black, Daley quit with only a week left in the season. Vanbiesbrouck resigned two days later and Daley finished the season with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Daly also played with the national team in the 2006 World Cup Championships for Canada. Ray Emery (#1, #29& 35) the ‘Sugar Ray’ of goalies, followed in the footsteps of Fuhr. Emery is the favorite goalie of the Popsicle Bros. because he combined the Grant Fuhr aggressive style and Patrick Roy butterfly style of goaltending and made it the Emery Style. Very few coaches understood this style and always wanted to change the way he played in net. He just never got a chance to shine. He played for the Ottawa Senators and guided them to the Stanley Cup Finals who had not been there since 1927, losing to the Anaheim Ducks. He began his career on fire winning his first nine games of the year. Then he did it again the next year. Contract disputes followed and he became a free agent. Emery still wanted to play so he went overseas and played in the Russian League with great stats. In 2009 Emery came back to the United States and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Emery almost died do to a medical condition (Avascular Necrosis) however the doctors caught it just in time before it spread through his leg. Many people did not like Emery because he put famous Black boxers on his mask in tribute to them. What a double standard when white goalies put blood and gore on their mask and not a word is spoken to these goalies!
What irony he signed a contract with the Anaheim Ducks in 2011. With the recent injury to the phenomenal Jonas Hiller, Emery’s saga may take another dramatic turn come playoff time. Kevin Weekes (#1, 80) played goalie for many teams and the last Black goalie to get significant net time in the league. He played for the New Jersey Devils near the end of his career in 2007- 08.
It seemed all of his hockey life Weekes had to gain respect from his teammates and other goalies in the league. It seemed like he was always supplanted by a younger goalie once he arrived.
Drafted by the Florida Panthers in 1993 was traded to the Vancouver Canucks for Pavel Bure. Then he would move on to the New York Islanders mid- season in 1999-2000. Weekes never fit into this team’s style of play and needed to move on. Then it was off to western Florida and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2001-2002. Weekes would not stay there long because mid season he would find a home with the Carolina Hurricanes and teamed up with Arturs Irbe as Weekes was the lead goaltender for the ‘Canes to go to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2002. In 2004-05 he signed as a free agent with the New York Rangers and a youngster named Henrik Lundqvist would be the number one goalie in Madison Square Garden. Weekes would move across the Hudson River and the New Jersey Devils. Once again he would have to battle for the number one spot after starter Martin Brodeur went down with a season ending injury. Weekes had to battle Scott Clemmensen as both goalies would lead the New Jersey Devils to the Stanley Cup Quarter Finals losing to the eventual Champion Carolina Hurricanes in game seven. Weekes became the first Black commentator for the National Hockey League Network, and is a contributor to the Hockey Night In Canada broadcast team. Nigel Dawes (#15) now suits up with the Atlanta Thrashers. New Jersey Martin Brodeur is happy that the plucky left winger is in Atlanta not in New York because Dawes owned the All Star goalie.
He was drafted by the #10 New York Rangers in the 2003 overall draft. Dawes played also played for the Phoenix Coyotes but was claimed on Waivers by the Flames and made his stardom in Calgary.
He now joins the Goal Brothers in Atlanta, and has become a very effective performer in shootout situations. Evander Kane (#9) is the most electric Black skater and scorer in some time playing for the Atlanta Thrashers with Dustin Byfuglien on this team with Kane the Thrashers have Stanley Cup potential. Kane was drafted in 2009 and drafted by the Vancouver Giants of the Western League. Kane went west to get seasoned and it seems to be a perfect fit. He earned the rookie of the year award and set the record for goals in the league. He has played for Team Canada in 2008 and the 2009 World Junior Championships and starred in both tournaments, winning gold medals in both.
P.K. Subban (#76) one of the strongest skaters on the ice who has the attitude to pull it off. He plays the game with flair something the NHL needs – and Montreal demands. He was a World Cup standout before joining the Montreal Canadiens. P.K. Subban was the first Canadian rookie to get three assist in one playoff game.
Robbie Wayne Earl (#38) left winger drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs then traded to the Minnesota Wild. He helped the Wisconsin Badgers get to the 2006 Frozen Four. He scored the winning goal against Boston College. Michael James Grier (#25) right winger a well traveled player now with the Buffalo Sabers very strong defensive right winger with the Edmonton Oilers, Washington Capitals and San Jose Sharks; and one of the best utility player because he can also play left wing – it must be nice to be ambidextrous. Grier was the silent leader of the Men of Teal and they went to the conference finals two years ago. Grier was the first American born and American trained hockey player. Georges Laraque (#17, 27) right winger now with the Montreal Canadiens, Laraque was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. He also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins and Phoenix Coyotes. Known as the enforcer for many teams and awarded for best fighter in 2003, Big Georges played in Sweden to keep his scoring skills sharp during the Lockout in 2004. While the Canadiens traded for him to play against the bigger front line of the Philadelphia Flyers, It did not help as the Flyers beat them and went on to the Finals. Due to his earlier back injuries Montreal released him. Laraque retired and went to Haiti to help his fellow countrymen after the massive earthquake. He helped to rebuild the Grace Children’s hospital in Port-au-Prince.
Jamal Mayers (#10, 21) drafted by the #21 Saint Louis Blues in 1999 and played there the majority of his career, the right -winger was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs he did not fit in the Leaf organization and moved back to the United States after playing one year with the #19 Calgary Flames now suits up for the San Jose Sharks.
Greg Mauldin (#20) right winger a 7th round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002 entry draft, traded to the Minnesota Wild in 2006, then in 2008 he was traded to the St. Louis Blues farm team. A year later, Mauldin signed a contract with the Ottawa Senators and played half the season in their season. This was getting frustrating for Mauldin not getting to know a team system because of the year to year movement. There were two more moves before he would find a home New York Islanders in 2009 he now plays for the Colorado Avalanche. He paid back his former team scoring a shorthanded goal against the Blue Jackets as the Avalanche wins 5-1.
# 15 Kendall McArdle left winger drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2005 he has played in three Kelly Cup playoffs. Kenndal played in the 2007 World Junior Championships for Team Canada. McArdle made his NHL debut in 2008 with 24 points. He is another star of the future if he can stay in the Panther system. This seems to be the key to a great NHL career staying in one program. #21 Kyle Okposo right – winger with the New York Islanders and the Isles sure missed his energy and scoring power this year as injuries have slowed him down. #17 Wayne Simmonds right winger of the up and coming Los Angeles Kings the 2nd round draft choice in 2007 and has impressed many in the league. He literally carried the Kings the first few months of this season and the Kings are on a current hot streak of 8 games without a loss. He has tried to instill his work ethic on his King teammates. Many love his skating skills and his stopping abilities on the ice. Anthony Stewart (#22) the older brother of Chris, was the first round draft choice by the Florida Panthers, now with the Goal Brothers of the Atlanta Thrashers. Stewart scored in his first game against the New Jersey Devils in 2005 against future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Two days later scores against hot goaltender Olaf Kolzig. Stew won gold and silver in the World Juniors in 2004-2005.
Norman Chris Stewart (#25) right winger of the Colorado Avalanche the Jamaican born star drafted in 2006 making his NHL debuted in 2008. He is the younger brother of Anthony Stewart and maybe the first Black brother team in the NHL. He is best friends with the Los Angeles King forward Wayne Simmonds and they play, practice, and live together in the summer time in Toronto. As the leading scorer for the Avs last year, the younger Stewart is getting a reputation of getting the “Gordie Howe Hat trick” (goal, assist, and a fight). Joel Ward (#29) the feisty right winger for the Nashville Predators Ward has won a few games these past few weeks keeping the Predators in the Stanley Cup race with his 20 points this year.
Shawn Belle (#45) born in Edmonton, Belle was drafted by the Saint Louis Blues in 2003. He won gold and silver medals in World Junior Championships, and went on to play for Team Canada in the Russian-Canadian Challenge in 2004. Belle played for the Minnesota Wild and Montreal Canadiens who would later come back home to play currently for the Edmonton Oilers. Maxime Fortunus (#27, 38) defensemen signed as a free agent for the Dallas Stars in 2008. He is one of the few players of full blooded Haitian descent. Played eight games for the Stars and hasn’t had a chance to show the scoring touch he honed while with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League which he has played for four years. #51 Francis Bouillon The power-packed defenseman from Haiti is now playing for the Nashville Predators and currently on injured reserve.
“The Cube” was a walk-on standout for the Montreal Canadiens. #2 Mark Fraser was a third round draft choice of the New Jersey Devils in 2005. Fraser helped stabilize the Devils on defense after the loss of Gomez and Gionta to Montreal. Coaches love Fraser for his stamina and grit against the opponent’s big men. Fraser helped Martin Brodeur tie the victory record of Terry Sawchuk with a winning goal. #65 Derek Joslin was a fifth round draft choice by the San Jose Sharks in 2005 from the Ottawa 67′s. Joslin is a hard hitting defenseman that the Sharks need to help San Jose goalie, Nittmi #29 Johnny Oduya defense this Goal Brother from Sweden solidified the New Jersey defense for many years. He played for the Swedish National Team in 2005 and the most recent Winter Olympics. Drafted by the Washington Capitals in 2001, The Caps released him and he left for Sweden to play for the Frolunda HC team then it was back to American and the New Jersey Devils were he became a star in the Meadowlands. The Devils traded him to the Atlanta Thrashers to join the 6 other Goal Brothers in Atlanta.
#49 Theo Peckham A third round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers, Peckham has his highest point total of his career at 10 at the halfway point of the season. The defenseman scored his first NHL point against the Nashville Predators and his first goal against the Detroit Red Wings. #24 Bryce Salvador was a sixth round draft choice by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1994. Salvador was the Rock of the New Jersey Devils defensive unit how he plays reflex on the Devils game. Salvador has not played much this season and the Devils defense looked like a sieve the first half of the year. Head Coach Jacques Lemaire was rehired and shook up the Devils basic defensive skills and made them work hard each practice. Jersey is still waiting for Salvador to play full time.
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So, with the help of Hockey Reference.com, we’ve done this by the numbers to shake out our favorite flavas at each spot. We apologize in advance if any Goal Brothas were missed, but it is plain to see how in spite overt and covert racism, so many fought long and hard to play the game they loved.
1. GRANT FUHR/RAY EMERY/TYRONE GARNER/JAMIE STORR 2. MARK FRASER/JIM PAEK 3. JASON DOIG 6. TREVOR DALEY/MANNY MALHOTRA 7. HERB CARNEGIE/JIM PAEK 8. TONY McKEGNEY 9. EVANDER KANE/PAUL KARIYA 10. GEORGE ARMSTONG/RICHARD PARK 11. MANNY McINTYRE /ANSON CARTER 12. JAROME IGINLA 13. BILL GUERIN/ANTHONY STEWART 14. JONATHAN CHEECHOO/RAFFI TORRES 15. JIM NEILSON/SANDY McCARTHY/NIGEL DAWES/KENDALL McARDLE/OSSIE CARNEGIE 16. MIKE MARSON/DEVIN SETOGUCHI 17. WAYNE SIMMONDS/RENE BOURQUE 18. BILL RILEY/ALTON WHITE/JON MATSUMOTO/STEVE KARIYA 19. RAY NEUFELD 20. ALTON WHITE 21. KYLE OKPOSO/JAMAL MAYERS 22. WILLIE O’REE /JORDAN TOOTOO 23. SCOTT GOMEZ/SEAN BROWN/SEAN MCMORROW 24. BRYCE SALVADOR/BRIAN JOHNSON 25. MIKE GRIER/CHRIS STEWART/BERNIE SAUNDERS/PAUL JERRARD 26. CRAIG MARTIN 27. MANNY MALHOTRA 28. PETER WORRELL 29. JOHNNY ODUYA/ RAY EMERY/JOEL WARD 31. GRANT FUHR/CHRIS BECKFORD-TSEU/JOAQUIN GAGE 33. DIRK GRAHAM / DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN/ANSON CARTER/ELDON ‘POKEY’ REDDICK /DALE CRAIGWELL 34. JEAN-LUC GRAND-PIERRE 35. RAY EMERY/DARREN LOWE/AL MONTOYA 36. RUMUN NDUR 37. JOHN CRAIGHEAD 38. MAXIME FORTUNUS/ROBBIE EARL/REGGIE SAVAGE 39. J.L. GRAND-PIERRE 40. NATHAN/LaFAYETTE/FRED BRATHWAITE 42. STEVEN FLETCHER /CHRIS STEWART 43. CLAUDE VILGRAIN 44. SHELDON SOURAY 45. SHAWN BELLE/MIKE MCHUGH 48. GRAEME TOWNSHEND 49. THEO PECKHAM 50. GERALD COLEMAN 51. FRANCIS BOUILLION/NATHAN ROBINSON 52. DUSTIN BYFUGLIEN 55. JASON DOIG 56. ANDRE DEVEAUX/DARREN BANKS 59. BRANDON YIP 65. DEREK JOSLIN 76. P.K. SUBBAN 77. ANSON CARTER 80. KEVIN WEEKES 87. DONALD BRASHEAR To our Goal Brother and colleague Tony McClean, we offer this salute:
McClean1 (Gray, Ingram – PP) 2:16, overtime.