A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
The 2012 NHL Black All Stars
Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff ReporterOAKLAND, CA. (BASN)–The National Hockey League has an All Star Team each year and many African American or Canadian Blacks are not on this list and are often overlooked.
Fellow writer Michael – Louis Ingram has given these young men a new name, “The Goal Brothers.”
This article gives recognition to these unknown stars. There are currently 29 Black players in the league – the highest number in history. From coast to coast players of color are on the ice.
The NHL, like all other major sports have racial issues that need to be addressed. Just as in MLB with pitching, the NFL with the quarterback position and NBA with the lack of general managers and owners.
The evidence with the lack of Black goalies and centers in the NHL the two important positions on the ice.
The Edmonton Oilers have a rich history of Black players with 10. The Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets are the current record holder of Black players with 4. Black players seem to play better in Canada than in the United States, but they continue to be ignored by the mainstream media.
The first team…
DEFENSE (Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets, Bryce Salvador, New Jersey Devils)
Byfuglien became the 3rd Black player to get his name on The Stanley Cup Trophy. He returned to his natural position last year. The Winnipeg Jet/Atlanta Thrasher star Dustin Byfuglien wears number 33 in honor of the first Black hockey captain, Dirk Graham. Dustin was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003 and changed the role of the defensemen just as Boston’s Bobby Orr changed the position 45 years ago. Orr’s domination via his hockey I.Q. and offensive skills made it possible for future defensemen to score goals.
Byfugulien made it possible for defensemen to be physical in the offensive zone. The Chicago Blackhawks transferred him to the forward position which did not work because the chemistry changed on the ice between teammates and Byfuglien. Dustin returned to his natural position, defense with the Winnipeg Jets/Atlanta Thrashers.
The New Jersey Devils had three of the most solid defensemen in the league – Bryce Salvador, Mark Fraser, and Johnny Oduya for 5 years. Oduya wore a Winnipeg Jet uniform before settling down with the Chicago Blackhawks this year. Fraser is currently playing for the Dallas Stars after his stint in the Meadowlands.
Salvador was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 1994. Bryce scored 9 goals this year then broke out in the playoffs to score 9 more goals (2 game winning goals and 2 game winning assists). Salvador has a plus ten rating moving into the Stanley Cup Finals. He also help shut down the gambling New York Ranger offense in the Eastern Conference Finals last week.
SECOND PAIRING DEFENSE: (P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens, Francis Bouillion, Nashville Predators)
Firebrand P.K. Subban is the spark plug for the Montreal Canadiens. Subban was drafted by the Canadiens in 2007. This year was his best year for the Habs with 38 points. Suppan put speed back into the Canadien team and seemed to stay above the chaos that was a disappointing season for Montreal.
Next is the little warrior or in French “le petit guerrier”, or the “Cube”, Francis Bouillion. Bouillion was signed by the Montreal Canadians as a free agent in 1998. Coaches worried about his small body getting smashed against the board but “The Cube’s” play warned other players and teams to lay off. Bouillion has solidified the Nashville defense with his heart and soul since 2009. He is now the senior citizen of the Predators and he carried his team to this year’s playoffs. He tied this year’s record for plus- minus in this year’s playoffs with a plus 9 which New Jersey’s Salvador has since passed with a plus 10.
THIRD PAIRING DEFENSE: (Trevor Daley, Dallas Stars, Johnny Oduya, Chicago Blackhawks)
Daley has been the main man of the Stars’ defense since he was elevated to a starting spot in 2005. Now with over 500 games played, Daley, like Salvador, is more of a stay – at – home backliner who can pop it in from the point on occasion. Oduya is almost a polar opposite in terms of approach. While he does stay at home, Oduya is an adept skater who has shown flashes of offensive brilliance. Though Oduya may not be the second coming of Paul Coffey, he could prove to be an asset once he has a full season in the Blackhawks’ rotation (especially on the power play).
Dressed to Play: (Theo Peckham, Edmonton Oilers, Derek Joslin, Carolina Hurricanes, and Mark Fraser, Toronto Maple Leafs).
FIRST LINES: (Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames, Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets, Devante Smith – Pelly, Anaheim Ducks)
Jarome Iginla could be called the 2nd Black Godfather of hockey. Many among the American hockey fan base do not know how great this player really is. The reason? More games being on air on the American networks do not broadcast the Canadian games.
Drafted 11th overall in 1995 by the Dallas Stars, Iginla is the 2nd Black Captain in history and if he had any assistance via an effective center on his wings they would be in the Stanley Cup. Iginla could be called the best Black position player in history. He has played the most minutes, playing 82 games for 10 years averaging 78 games per year; a true work horse. That is over 1000 games with 450 goals, 488 assist and over 900 points, no other Black player comes close to Iginla’s statistics.
Not only is Jarome a great player he is an ambassador of the game and a true gentlemen just like his hero Willie O’Ree, Boston Bruin, the first Black player in the NHL.
The highly skilled Evander Kane drafted fourth overall in 2009 by the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets has a total of 63 goals with 63 assists in the embryonic stages of his career – becoming a complete package on offense. Kane has strength, speed, and accuracy which makes him a very dangerous player on the ice.
Devante Smith – Pelly was a late addition to the Ducks’ roster during their playoff push, and showed a nice scoring touch, netting six goals in what could surely be a potental good thing to come given ice time and opportunity. When he gets bumped up to the first line because of the potential as well as being a natural left – winger.
SECOND LINE (Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers, Anthony Stewart, Carolina Hurricanes, Joel Ward, Washington Capitals)
Wayne Simmonds number 17 (we know this because some Flyer “fan” had THE BLACK GUY on the back of his jersey) was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2nd round in 2007. The wiry Simmonds would streak down the ice and score stretching the defense of their opponent. He changed the way the Los Angeles Kings played. Simmonds put aggression back into the Kings offense something which had been missing since the Wayne Gretzky days.
Number 17 was traded this season to Philadelphia for forwards, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. It was a great trade because it improved each team. Simmonds instilled the old nastiness of the Broad Street Bullies. He flourished when given the opportunity to get extra ice time on the Flyers’ power play, helping to make it one of the league’s best. Overall Simmonds put up career numbers (28G, 21A, 49 points, and 114 penalty minutes – true Flyer stats in terms of pedigree).
Simmonds went into hostile territory at Wells Fargo Center because of the way the Philadelphia fan base treats their star Black players at times. So far Wayne has risen above the fray and the “Wayne Train” is doin’ it well for the Orange and Black.
Anthony Stewart is the bigger brother to Chris Stewart who plays for the St. Louis Blues. Anthony was drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2003 He became a free agent in 2007 and moved to the Atlanta Thrashers.
When the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg they opted out of the contract and Stewart signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Joel Ward is an the elder statesmen on the Washington Capitals. The undrafted choice of the Capitols made a big splash this year with an overtime winning goal in the Eastern Quarter Finals against the Boston Bruins.
Ward started his career with the Minnesota Wild before gaining stardom with the Nashville Predators in the 2007-2011 season. He was traded to The Washington Capitals to operate as a forward/defense a la Byfuglien; he was a solid role player and has shown ability in the post -season. The Capitals were last in the Eastern Conference. In mid – season the red, white, and blue moved up to number 8, then moved into the playoffs. There is something going on inside the lockerroom of this team because the head coach resigned after righting a sinking ship. Questions have to be answered in Washington, D.C.
The issue of race in the NHL raised its ugly head again with Ward as hero in the Boston series and goat a week later in the New York series. Commissioner Gary Bettman has to address this issue before the start of the 2012-13 season with the emergence of players of color. Bettman missed this opportunity this hockey season.
THIRD LINE (Chris Stewart, St. Louis Blues, Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders, Jamal Mayers, Chicago Blackhawks)
Chris Stewart of the St. Louis Blues was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 2006. He was captain of the Kingston Frontenacs and played with his older brother Anthony from 2004-2007. Stewart is one of the league’s big secret. Chris can be a scoring machine at times. In his first week playing in NHL he received the Gordie Howe hat trick; that is a goal, a assist, and a fight. Welcome to the league my son. He has gained respect throughout the league.
Kyle Okposo has shown promise to be a big – time scorer. After a very sluggish start to this season, Kyle caught fire late, with a career high 24 goals and 45 total points. Regardless of wherever the Islanders may soon reside (Seattle?) Okposo seems ready for prime time. If you look up the phrase “wily veteran”, Jamal Myers’ face is likely there. For years one of the most effective two – way checkers, Myers has played in over 890 games and seems to always be on that short list of “rent-a-talent” needed as trading deadlines close and playoff possibilities open.
Dressed to Play: Akim Aliu, Calgary Flames (should get a new lease on life under Iginla’s wing), Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes, Greg Mauldin, Colorado Avalanche, Kenndal McArdle Winnipeg Jets, Ryan Reaves, St. Louis Blues.
There are two Black Goalies currently in the NHL. Arguably the best goalie ever would be Grant Fuhr of the Edmonton Oilers. Fuhr won 5 Stanley Cups. The Run and Gun Oilers did not play defense so Fuhr was their last line for stopping two-on-one breakaways.
Ray Emery, with the Chicago Blackhawks is one of my favorite players because of his style in net. Emery combined the butterfly style of the French – Canadian goalies with the straight old school style of American goalies making it Ray Emery’s style. Many head coaches are still scratching their head trying to figure out how he does it. He was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the 4th round in 2001 and stayed there for 8 years. Ray has winning record in each year of his career and many believe the Ottawa Senators did not give him a chance in the Canadian Capital City. He had to deal with being the 2nd goalie everywhere he went. It happened again this year in Chicago competing against Corey Crawford. During the Blackhawks’ mid-season surge, Emery happened to be in net and went 7-1-1. When the emergency ended, Emery was forgotten.
The Blackhawks did not last long in the playoffs with Crawford in net.
Chris Beckford- Tseu is currently a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings. It’s going to be very hard to gain a position in Hollywood because it seems like Jonathan Quick will be in net for Kings for some time. It is strange to note that Beckford-Tseu first game was against the team he now works for, the Los Angeles Kings. Chris is of Chinese and Black decent Tseu was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the 5th round of 2003 re-entry draft.
Jay Sharrers in 2001 made history when the Philadelphia Flyers played the Florida Panthers he was the head referee.
Former goalie Kevin Weeks became the first Black hockey analyst, joining the NHL Network and Hockey Night In Canada crew for the 2010-11 season. Weeks gives insights into games from behind the net something that has not been done before. He should still be playing in goal for some team.
It’s a power play goal at 10:19 3rd pd.Goal Gray 3 (Ingram, McClean) Tony gets the assist because of the Pokey Reddick correction….
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod