Goal Brothers on Ice-2017

Gary Norris Gray-BASN-Staff Reporter

As the National Hockey Leagues doors are opening up to Black players, have to keep making their point and continue the notion that they too belong on the ice and can play the game. We scan the rink preparing for the playoffs with these new faces on the ice and acknowledge the challenges they face.

This year’s Black players are making strong influences in the National Hockey League with speed and power. They are also having a strong presence and influence on their own teams. We at BASN salute the Goal Brothers on ice.

#88 Jarome Iginla-Los Angeles. Kings- The Black God-Father on Ice.

Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunie Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is his birth name. Jarome was born in Edmonton Alberta, Canada. He was the first 18 year old that played for the providence rival Calgary Flames in 1996.

He was named the 18th captain in 2003 and has often been mistaken for the first Black captain in the NHL. Your’s truly learned that lesion too. That honor belongs to number 33 Dirk Graham of the Chicago Blackhawks .

Iginla is the 7th player to score 30 goals in 11 consecutive seasons but he still cannot get respect because he has not raised Lord Stanley’s Cup in victory.

The Los Angeles Kings tried to get the Black Godfather of hockey to the playoffs but the future looks dim with Los Angeles 12 points away from a wild card spot with 12 games left.

#23  J.T.Brown-Tampa Bay Lighting. Mr. Brown is one of the brightest African Americans in the National Hockey League. He was born in Burnsville, Minnesota. He made his Stanley Cup appearance against the dominate Chicago Blackhawks in 2014.  On June 24, 2016, the Lightning announced the re-signing of Brown to two-year contract extension. Brown played in 78 regular season games during the past season, recording eight goals and 22 points. Brown was tied for third on the team with a plus-16 rating. He set career bests in games played, goals, points, plus/minus and penalty minutes last season. He also appeared in nine Stanley Cup Playoff games, recording two assists and two penalty minutes. Brown has skated in 198 career NHL games, all with the Lightning over four seasons, registering 15 goals and 51 points. He also has skated in 37 playoff games, recording a goal and six points.

J.T. Brown is giving back to the sport he loves — and encouraging more minorities to join him on the ice — via a unique hockey mentoring program in Tampa. He is becoming the Willie O’Ree of the 2000 era.

#33 Dustin Byfuglien-Winnipeg Jets– Mr. Byfuglien is my favorite player and another African American on the ice. Dustin is the best defenseman in the NHL. Buff is also one of the biggest defensemen that ever played the game and he uses his size to block offensive players and their shots on net. Dustin won the Stanley Cup with the 2010 Chicago Blackhawk team over the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Hawks won the Cup on Philadelphia ice and the crowd was cordial until Dustin Byfuglien held the cup, skating around the rink. Boos and catcalls could be heard throughout Wachovia Arena, but that’s South Philly.

Teams forget that Buff has scoring power and can put the bisket in the basket. Byfuglien was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2003. Originally a defenseman at the start of the 2007–08 season, he was moved to a right wing position to give the team a larger body near the net. The experiment that proved successful. Buff should have stayed there but the Atlanta Thrashers moved him back to the defensive position. Too bad nobody is noticing.

This year in Winnipeg he has scored 12 goals and 35 assist. The League has conveniently tucked him away in Mid-west CANADA so Americans never get to see him play.

# 10 Anthony Duclair-Arizona Coyotes- Duclair was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2013. The Rangers never gave him a chance. He scored 5 points in the 2014 pre-season and was shipped to the Arizona Coyotes. Duclair has blossomed in the desert scoring 23 goals and 32 assist.

#66 Joshua Ho-Sang- New York Islanders- Ho-Sang sparked a minor controversy amongst hockey purists when he chose to wear sweater number #66 for the Islanders. Ho-Sang stated he chose the number to pay homage to Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hockey fans in Pittsburgh still do not like it. He was the second player, after Calgary Flames defenseman T. J. Brodie to wear the number after Lemieux in a regular season game. The League wants to retire number #66 just as the league retired Wayne Gretzky’s number #99. Until the league retires number 66. Anybody can still wear the number, so let the kid wear it and leave him alone.

This is the fastest man on the ice I’ve ever seen. Ho Sang is very aggressive in the offensive zone, pressuring other team’s defense and disrupting their flow. Number 66 should have been with the parent team months ago but the NHL continues to play the color game. As a Goal Brother he had to prove once again that he belonged. Ho-Sang scored three goals in one week with the Islanders when he was called up three weeks ago, pushing the Islanders toward the 2017 playoffs.  Can’t wait to see this player get his wings and fly in the NHL.

# 3 Seth Jones-Columbus Blue Jackets- The son of basketball star Popeye Jones. The African American invasion can be seen in full force in 2017. Jones should have been the number one draft pick in 2013 but ended up being the fourth overall pick at 19 years old. Seth is dedicated to the game and proves it on the ice with his play.

Jones was shocked when the Nashville Predators traded him to the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets in the middle of the season last year 2015-16. He is up to 39 points, 124 shots, 101 blocked shots and a plus-15 rating for the campaign while averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game. Jones is never going to pile on the PIM or hits. He’s also worth a look in daily contests when Columbus faces an inferior opponent.

Jones knows how to win because he has been on four IIHF medal winning American teams in Russia, Czech Republic, and Germany. Now he is transferring this knowledge to the Bluejackets in the NHL.

# 4 Caleb Jones- Edmonton Oilers  The little brother of Seth Jones drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fourth round in 2015. He had a bust out year with the Western Hockey League Portland Winterhawks with 64 points and 9 goals. The NHL will be seeing him next year in the great white Northwest Territories.

#25 Darnell Nurse-Edmonton Oilers- Nurse was the first part of the rebuilding blocks for the future in Edmonton and it has finally showed up this year with a playoff position for the first time in seven years.

Nurse was drafted 7th overall in 2013 but his career was slowed by ankle surgery in 2016 that took him out of the season.  The sports gene runs deep in this family Darnell is the son of former Canadian Football League wide receiver Richard Nurse. He is also the nephew of former NFL star quarterback Donovan McNabb-Philadelphia Eagles-Washington Football Club, who is married to Darnell’s aunt, Raquel Nurse McNabb.

After years of frustration the Edmonton Oilers might be on the right track toward another Stanley Cup Champion.

#21  Kyle Okposo, #9  Evander Kane, #56  Justin BaileyBuffalo Sabers

The Buffalo Sabers may be the NHL’s best kept secret as they keep driving towards improving the product on the ice in 2017 with midseason trades.

The New York Islanders let Kyle Okposo head north while the Winnipeg Jets sent Evander Kane east and drafted Justin Bailey. There is a buzz around this team of the future if they keep this trio.

Okposo missed two weeks with rib injuries but has been a very welcome addition to the Sabers offense this season, scoring 19 goals and 43 points in 63 games, He has scored at least 40 points the fourth straight season

Kane has been on fire the last three weeks and has put fear into the eyes of the eastern conference powerhouses, New York Rangers, Washington Capitols, Montreal Canadiens, and Ottawa Senators.

Kane while the sniper, has lit the lamp 10 times in the past 14 games and has contributed three assists over that span. Kane’s ability to put pucks on net and past goalies will continue to make him an asset in Buffalo. He has passed the 25 goal mark last week and will continue to fight hard for the Sabers.

Justin Bailey, A home town guy born, the son of Buffalo Bill linebacker Carlton Bailey, and raised in Buffalo and is another African American with sports lineage,  He could not wait to be a part of this new exciting team in the northeast. Justin was drafted in 2013 and has yo-yo-ied from Buffalo to the AHL Rochester Americans the past three and half years.

He was reassigned to Rochester on February 18, only to be recalled again three days later following an injury to Ryan O’Reilly. He scored his first NHL goal on January 3, 2017 against THE KING goalie Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers. The right winger might be the needed addition to the firepower. This team could be the new scoring machine in the east and challenge the Pittsburgh Penguins  next year

#29 Johnny Oduya-Chicago Blackhawks– The Black Swede got drafted in 2001 by the Washington Capitols and was then traded a year later to the New Jersey Devils only to become the stallworth on defense for this northeast team. Oduya returns to his 2nd home solidifying the Hawk defense. He has played in the Stanley Cup playoffs and won two of them, scoring 19 goals in 8 years.

In June 2013, Oduya won his first Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks, who defeated the Boston Bruins in six games in the Finals.  In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, Oduya assisted on the Cup winning goal scored by Dave Bolland. Oduya’s shot came from the left point and deflected off the stick of Michael Frolík. Bolland, in position in front of the Boston goal, pushed the deflected shot past Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask to give the Blackhawks their second Stanley Cup in four years.

#17 Wayne Simmonds-Philadelphia Flyers – Number 17 is the heart, body, and soul of the Philadelphia Flyers. Wayne Simmonds exemplifies what this teams stands for, The Broad Street Bullies of the 1970’s. Wayne the Train, leaves everything on the ice every night. Simmonds became a favorite among L.A. fans for his strong work ethic on and off the ice, a trait he has said was instilled in him by his parents. Coming to the City of Brotherly Love Simmonds worked even harder to please the fans in Philly.

Wayne Simmonds was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and played well in Hollywood in 2007-2011. Hockey fans love a mucker and grinder because that means he is working hard to get the puck.

On September 22, 2011, during a preseason game in London, Ontario between the Detroit Red Wings and the Flyers, a banana was thrown onto the ice while Simmonds was making a shootout attempt. This was seen as an act of racism. The following day, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement regarding the events of the previous day. “We have millions of great fans who show tremendous respect for our players and for the game,” said Bettman in the statement, “the obviously stupid and ignorant action by one individual is in no way representative of our fans or the people of London, Ontario”. Chris Moorhouse later pleaded guilty to engaging in a prohibited activity under the Trespass Act and was fined $200 but did not need to appear in court.

#76 P.K. Subban-Nashville Predators– P.K. has found a southern home in Nashville after the Montreal Canadiens released him last year.

The Canadiens drafted him in 2nd round in 2007 and won the James Norris Trophy in 2013. He was the best player on the team and should have been named captain but because of the French Canadien pedigree Subban never had a chance

Subban then played all 82 games during 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, in which he registered a total of 53 points, ten of which were goals. During the 2014 playoffs, he was one of Montreal’s most important assets, registering 14 points in 17 games as the Canadiens ultimately reached the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the New York Rangers.

He is also the stallworth of the Montreal community by giving funds to various agencies but he could not win the hearts of Les Habs fans and went off to Nashville, Tenn. and a peace of mind.

On September 16, 2015, Subban announced his donation of $10 million to the Montreal Children’s Hospital.  The hospital called it “the biggest philanthropic commitment by a sports figure in Canadian history. After his donation, Subban continued his commitment as spokesman and organized the Winter Wonderland with Air Canada at the hospital before the holidays. In 2017, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Cross (Civil Division) in recognition of how his “generous gift stands as an example of how professional athletes can positively change lives in their communities”.

#70 Malcolm Subban-Boston Bruins- The brother of P.K. Subban is the goaltender for the black and gold Boston Bruins. Malcolm keeps being shuttled back and forth to the parent team, the Providence Bruins. He has played only a single game this year and might be heading out of the Hub City with free agency the end of the year.

The Boston Bruins sometimes put Subban in unwinable situations and the talented goalie has trouble dealing with it. He has a tough time following in his star studded brothers footsteps.

#25 Devante Smith-Pelly-New Jersey Devils– Smith Pelly moved from the West Coast- Anaheim Ducks to the East Coast-New Jersey Devils.

Drafted in 2010 by the Anaheim Ducks and has played in the Stanley Cup twice, one for the Ducks and one for the Montreal Canadiens

In the 2015–16 season, Smith-Pelly got off to a strong start with the Canadiens as they started a franchise best 9 straight wins to start the year. With a mid-season collapse in progress and despite contributing with a career best 6 goals through 46 games, he was dealt by the Canadiens to the New Jersey Devils, just a little over a year from when he was acquired on February 29, 2016, in exchange for Stefan Matteau.

Smith Pelly is now the elder for the young Jersey Devils. He has become the teacher and on ice coach.

#75 Ryan Reaves-St. Louis Blues- The invisible man come from a athletic family, his father played for the CFL Winnipeg Blue Bombers and his brother suited up for the Rough Riders of Saskatchewan.

Reaves is the NHL modern day enforcer with a quiet voice. His size speaks for him. Reaves has scored 20 goals in his NHL career.

#42 Joel Ward-San Jose Sharks-  Ward, has been called Mr. Consistency standing at the blue line snapping hard slap shots for goals. Can’t believe it’s been 10 years already and his first  start in Minnesota. He changed the Washington Capitol defense system where the defensemen could be part of the offence.

In the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs The Boston Bruin crowd rode Ward the whole series. In the seventh game Joel Ward shut them down with an overtime goal from the point eliminating the defending champion Boston Bruins.

Ward has improved the San Jose defense which sometimes forgets to screen out players fly by the blue line creating havoc for the Shark defense.

Our Asian brothers are also beginning to hit the ice with style and grace.

#16 Matt Dumba- Minnesota Wild- Dumba is one of the first Filipino players on the ice. The Wild selected him with the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Dumba previously played junior with the Red Deer Rebels in Alberta.

He has bounced back and forth in the minors and the American Hockey League. Dumba returned to the parent club this year and is on a tear with 10 goals and 16 assist.  

#22 Devin Setoguchi- Calgary Flames  Devin is of Japanese descent and was a crowd favorite in San Jose In the 2010–11 season with the Sharks, on February 19, 2011, Setoguchi scored his first NHL Hat-trick in a 4-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche. On April 19, 2011, Setoguchi scored the game winner in overtime against the Los Angeles Kings to make the 1st round playoff series 2-1. On May 4, 2011, Setoguchi completed a hat trick in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semi-finals against the Detroit Red Wings by scoring an OT goal to give the Sharks a 3-0 lead in the series. Devin is currently playing with The Los Angeles Kings after a two year stay in The Swedish League.

#15 Andong Song- New York Islanders  Song played the Beijing International Ice Hockey League before moving to Canada at the age of ten.  The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey filled his teenage years on the ice. The Native Chinese got hooked watching the New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils.

Song was drafted by the New York Islanders in the sixth round  and will be on the ice soon. Currently Song is playing for the BIG RED at Cornell University.


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 garyngray@blackathlete.com


©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod




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