SAVED FROM SHAQTIN’ By Arthur George-Special to BASN JaVale McGee is reclaiming...
BASN’S POPSICLE BROTHERS – NHL 2016 – 17, VOL.IV: THREE STARS
POPSICLE BROTHERS’ REPORT - NHL 2016 Vol.IV
OUR THREE STARS
By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor – in – Chief
PHILADELPHIA (BASN) We’ve taken a look at how the most important position in hockey was shaped and attained by the Goal Brothas who worked their asses off to maintain a standard of excellence which would ideally negate worrying about what color they were!
While some of those listed in our last piece did not get to stay long at the highest level it never stifled their effort or desire to play the sport they loved.
And now, without further ado, our Goal Brothas Three Stars at the position of Goalie:
Third Star: Eldon ‘Pokey’ Reddick
In Canada, most of the Black population (Ontario notwithstanding) can be found in Nova Scotia. Reddick was born in Halifax and picked up his nickname not because of his glove hand but due to observations from his father. At five foot eight, Reddick would defeat shooters by cutting down their angle of attack – and you can’t be a slowpoke when it comes to that!
Obviously Pops could also see his son could play – and Reddick would parlay that skill into the pros as he shared time in net with Daniel “Bandit” Berthiaume in the early post – World Hockey Association days with the Winnipeg Jets, making the team as an undrafted player…
After three seasons in The ‘Peg, Pokey caught a break with an assist from a fellow Goal Brotha in 1990. After Grant Fuhr went down with a season – ending injury, Reddick was picked up to back up Bill Ranford (no slouch himself). Reddick went 5-4-2 as a spot starter and played in one playoff game as Ranford and the Oilers stole the Stanley Cup over an ambushed Boston Bruins club that no doubt felt there would be a big talent drop off after Fuhr’s loss.
Reddick would continue to play the various leagues (including 10 seasons in the International Hockey League) before settling down in Las Vegas , working at the youth level with hockey programs there.
Second Star: Ray Emery
You think of Ray Emery and the first thing that comes to mind is – hardcore.
After rocking the OHL and AHL, the Hamilton, Ontario native gave fans a taste of what was to come by playing – and fighting – to make his point; you’d better recognize that Emery was a different breed of cat behind the net…
When the Ottawa Senators were smart enough to realize his talent, Emery didn’t disappoint. From 2005 on he helped Sens’ management nudge Dominic Hasek out the door and beat out Martin Gerber for the starting spot by mid -season of 2007.
Emery carried Ottawa (then a one-line team with no auxiliary firepower) to the Stanley Cup final in 2007, going 13-7 with a 91 percent save percentage before succumbing to the Anaheim Ducks in five games.
Around this time Emery was also gaining a reputation as someone who could throw down with his hands. While goaltenders (the Islanders former star Bill Smith an exception) didn’t look to scrap, Emery had no problem. If pushed, Emery would whip goalie ass…enforcer ass…didn’t matter whose ass!
So the League’s approach with fining him seemed different. One particular incident which raised eyebrows had the League making an issue out of one of his goalie masks, which depicted former boxing champion Iron Mike Tyson on it; this, apparently after the ear – munching of Tyson’s opponent Evander Holyfield in a championship bout. However, goalie Curtis Joseph, nicknamed ‘Cujo’ after the beast from the Stephen King novel, was never pushed with being it painted on his mask; or his mask considered something promoting violence…
After a wrist injury in 2008, management soured on Emery and he became a free agent, With the formation of the KHL in Russia, Emery signed a one year deal and became an all-star goalie there before returning to the NHL and those nasty Philadelphia Flyers…
Emery’s pugnacious nature fit with the Fly Guys like a glove – until an abdominal tear interrupted his season; and almost his career 29 games into the 2009 season. He shut down the 2010 season once it was discovered Emery had avascular necrosis - the same affliction which cut short Bo Jackson’s career. Because it was in its early stages, doctors were able to treat it and Emery endured a grueling rehab (which included removal of centimeters of bone from his leg!) into able to play at a professional level again; an even more amazing effort given Emery’s ‘butterfly’ style of goaltending where dips and splits are at the speed of thought…
Moving to Anaheim in 2011, Emery would step in for Ray Ellis and deliver big time, guiding Anaheim to the playoffs where he took them into the second round with a 6-2-3 record; but it wasn’t until his move to Chicago paid off with champagne from Lord Stanley’s cup.
On a make – good contract, Emery not only made the club, he became part of a winning tandem with Corey Crawford. Emery went 15-9-4 in 34 games. The following season, the Blackhawks spent the best million dollars in League history.
With a $1.15 million extension granted, no one was ready for what would happen next…
Emery won his first 12 games in net, something never done in league history while logging the lion’s share of minutes in goal due to an injury with Crawford. By the time Crawford returned to become the starter, Emery had amassed one of the most impressive regular season stat lines in all of sport: 17 wins, one loss in 21 games for an over 90 percent win average and a 1.94 goals per game average over a 92 percent save percentage!
Crawford would start in the playoffs and bring the Blackhawks the Cup – but without playing a minute of post-season, Chicago’s true Most Valuable Player had made his presence felt all season long.
The Emery/Crawford tandem would win the 2013 William M. Jennings Trophy for fewest goals allowed, as Emery moved on, fulfilled in that he had brought himself all the way back from an injury and adversity which would break the spirit of most.
If you peek at Emery’s career lines the man they call “Razor” and “Sugar Ray” was one baaad brother: In 287 regular season games, Emery went 145-86-28 (over a 60 percent win average), 16 shutouts, a 2.70 GAA and a save percentage of just above 90 percent.
Like all prime time performers, Emery battled, gave no quarter and asked for none. His playoff numbers are even more impressive when you consider the ultra-grind that is the NHL’s post -season: in 39 games, Razor is 21 – 17 with three shutouts and a 2.64 GAA.
Not only a Stanley Cup champion, Ray Emery’s tenacity, dedication and drive to play the sport he loves makes him a champion in life.
FIRST STAR: GRANT FUHR
You know it would downright insulting to deny this spot to anyone but Fuhr, one of the greatest to ever play the position.
A member – the first Black member of the Hall of Fame (inducted in 2003) Fuhr’s greatness was not ignored – and rightfully so…
While longstanding fans will make arguments for Sawchuk, Dryden or Plante; Hasek, Roy or Brodeur as being The GOAT, there is one thing Fuhr has done better than everyone of them…
I would dare say anyone watching the Edmonton Oilers during their freewheeling reign of terror in the
1980s watched Fuhr face – and defeat more odd man rushes than all the aforementioned – combined.
Fuhr even scored 14 points from the goalie position during the 1983 – 84 season (14 assists, 36 career) - better numbers than some defencemen – in his 10 years in the NHL. These factors are among others which gave The Great One, Wayne Gretzky, pause to say Fuhr was the greatest goaltender – ever.
Next time: our salute continues – with defencemen.
always outnumbered – never outgunned.
Copyright (c) 2016 Michael – Louis Ingram PBros all rights reserved.