Paul Kariya’s Hall of Fame call sparks pride in Asian community

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Hockey is finally giving the National Hockey League’s first star player of Asian descent his due, and Ken Noma couldn’t be happier.

High-scoring forward Paul Kariya is finally Hall of Fame-bound.

The Hockey Hall of Fame’s decision to enshrine former Mighty Ducks of Anaheim forward Paul Kariya,  a Vancouver native whose father was born in a World War II Japanese internment camp, is historic, said Noma, the executive director of National Association of Japanese Canadians.

“We are equally proud that Paul is the first inductee of Asian heritage and the first Japanese Canadian,” Noma said in a statement released by the association. “Paul’s hockey style was reminiscent of the Asahi Baseball team of the 1930s who played a courteous but a tactical style of game dubbed “brain baseball”.  Sport writers have described Paul as a skilled, fast skating player who brought a cerebral dimension to the game.  He had an innate hockey sense that seemed to attract pucks.”

Paul Tetsuhiko Kariya, 42,  got the call from the Hall on Monday. He’ll be formally enshrined November 13 along with Ducks linemate and close friend Teemu Selanne;  former NHL forwards forwards Dave Andreychuk and Mark Recchi; women’s hockey star Danielle Goyette; former University of Alberta Head Coach Clare Drake and Boston Bruins Owner Jeremy Jacobs.

Forward Paul Kariya, back in the days the when the Anaheim Ducks were called the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Photo/Courtesy of Hockey Hall of Fame).

Kariya, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound wing played with Anaheim, the Colorado Avalanche, St. Blues Louis and the Nashville Predators. in a 15-season NHL career that was cut tragically short by concussions.

He scored 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 regular season games and 16 goals, 23 assists in 46 playoff contests. His numbers were good enough to earn seven All Star Game appearances.

He collected his share of hardware: Kariya won the Lady  Byng Trohpy  in 1996 and 1997 for gentlemanly play and skated for Canada’s 1994 Silver Medal-winning Winter Olympics hockey squad and on the 2002 Canadian team that captured the country’s first Olympic Gold Medal in 50 years.

Kariya was a star even before the Ducks chose him with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft.

He led the University of Maine Black Bears to the 1993 NCAA Division I championship and won the Hobey Baker Award that year as U.S. college hockey’s best player. He tallied 25 goals and 75 assists – 100 points – in 39 games for Maine in the 1992-93 season.

But for all his accomplishments, Kariya, who played his final NHL season in 2009-10, seemed to be a forgotten man by the hockey establishment.

He was  repeatedly passed over by the Hall of Fame and somehow wasn’t ranked among the 100 Greatest NHL Players, a list commemorating the league’s centennial anniversary.

So when Kariya received the Hall call, his fans rejoiced, especially those fans in North America’s Asian community.

“There’s a great love of hockey among the Japanese Canadian community, so seeing Paul recognized in this way is a source of pride,” James Heron, executive director of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre in Toronto, told me.

It wasn’t just Japanese-Canadians who were thrilled. George Chiang, whose parents moved to Canada from Taiwan, said Kariya’s inclusion in the Hall is “a great thing because he deserves it based on his achievements.”

“He had a great career,” Chiang, a 47-year-old father of an up-and-coming hockey player, told me. “It is nice that Asians now have a role model that shows them that they can be recognized for their achievements just like other players.”

Noma hopes Kariya’s Hall entry starts a trend.

“We are hopeful that the next inductee to the Hall will be Vicky Sunohara who has been eligible since 2010,” he said. “Vicky is a trailblazer in Canadian women’s hockey who won 9 gold medals and 2 silvers and has devoted her life to the sport.”

Sunohara, 47, won medals at three Winter Olympics – gold in 2006 in Torino, Italy, 2002 in Salt Lake City, and silver in Nagano, Japan, in 1998. She played on gold medal-winning Canadian teams at International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championships in 1990, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007.

As head coach of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues women’s hockey team, Sunohara has compiled a 137-59-21 record since 2011.

 

 

 

 

The brothers Foo chase NHL dreams through 2017 draft, free agency

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CHICAGO – Parker and Spencer Foo share more than a brotherly bond.

Chicago Blackhawks draftee Parker Foo.

Parker is a scoring machine who tallied 34 goals and 32 assists in 60 games last season for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Big brother Spencer is also a sniper – NCAA Division I hockey’s fourth-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 26 goals and 36 assists in 38 games as a junior for Union College.

Both are coveted by National Hockey League teams. The Chicago Blackhawks chose Parker Foo, an 18-year-old center, in the fifth round with the 144th pick in the 2017 NHL Draft at Chicago’s United Center.

Meanwhile, Spencer, a 23-year-old right wing, has committed to playing for the Calgary Flames, ending a bidding war among NHL teams from his hometown Edmonton Oilers to the Philadelphia Flyers for his college free agent services. Spencer’s signing will be formally announced on Saturday.

As for Parker, he was elated by being tapped by the Blackhawks. He didn’t attend the draft, not wanting to get his expectations too high. He did visit the Windy City a few weeks ago to attend a pre-draft combine.

“It’s incredible (to be selected by the Blackhawks),” he told The Calgary Herald. “I was there a couple of weeks ago. It’s a top-notch facility. Everything is incredible there — mind-boggling really. Obviously, the Blackhawks are an unreal team — all the superstars, and the coach is unbelievable.”

Parker is coming off an incredible 2016-17 season. He was the Bandits’ second-leading goal-scorer and fifth on the team in overall scoring – the combination of goals and assists. He was AJHL’s fourth-leading goal scorer during the regular season.

Foo was second on the Bandits and fourth in the AJHL in playoff scoring with 10 goals and 10 assists in 13 games. In addition, he tallied 4 goals and 5 assists in five games to help the Bandits win the Western Canada Cup.

Parker won’t be playing for Chicago any time soon. He’s committed to play NCAA Division I hockey next season. Where? Union College, just like his high-scoring brother did.

Parker was one of five players of Asian heritage picked by NHL teams in the weekend draft.

The others were:

Nick Suzuki, forward, Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League, by the Vegas Golden Knights, first round, 13th overall pick; Kailer Yamamoto, forward, Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, by the Oilers, first round, 22nd overall pick; Jason Robertson, forward, Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, by the Dallas Stars, second round, 43rd overall pick; Tyler Inamoto, defense, USA Hockey National Development Team, fifth round, 133rd pick overall.

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Tyler Inamoto follows Samurai code on path to NHL after 2017 draft

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CHICAGO – Tyler Inamoto talks about playing hockey the right way.

Florida Panthers draftee Tyler Inamoto (Photo/Len Redkoles).

He also talks about playing it the Samurai way.

“Hockey is a lot of courage and passion and a lot of integrity,” said Inamoto, a defenseman for the USA Hockey National Development Team. “The principles of the Samurai code is pretty applicable to hockey.”

Inamoto hopes to employ the code playing for the Florida Panthers, which took the 6-foot-2 defenseman in the fifth round with the 133rd overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft in Chicago Saturday.

 

“I was just honored to be picked by the Florida Panthers and look forward to the opportunity to play for them some day,” said Inamoto, who grew up in the Chicago area.

However, Inamoto won’t be suiting up for the Panthers soon. He’ll start playing for the University of Wisconsin and head coach Tony Granato this fall. NHL Central Scouting ranked Inamoto as the 68th-best North American skater eligible for the draft.

Granato calls him a big, mean defenseman whom he expects to contribute to the Badgers almost immediately.

“He’ll be a physical impact player right away next year,” Granato said.

 

Inamoto joins a growing list of players of Asian heritage who were drafted in this weekend’s draft and previous NHL drafts in recent years.

Inamoto is of Japanese descent and learned a lot about his heritage – including the Samurai code – from his grandfather, Fujio Inamoto, who was placed in a British Columbia internment camp during World War II. He passed away in 2014.

“He taught me a lot about hard work and perseverance, as well, because coming out of internment camp, he had to work hard to support the family since he lost all (his) land,” the younger Inamoto told The Chicago Tribune. “…And he persevered through all that. I learned a lot from him.”

They are lessons that he doesn’t take lightly. He hopes to make history by becoming one of the few players of Japanese heritage to reach the NHL.

“It’s a big deal – there aren’t too many Japanese hockey players out there,” said Inamoto, who was born in New Jersey but raised in suburban Chicago. “So if I can be an influence to some of those guys growing up and inspire them to play hockey, I definitely take that very seriously and I’ll do my best to be a good role model to them.”

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RV rides in L.A. help drive Jason Robertson to 2nd-round pick in NHL Draft

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CHICAGO – Jason Robertson’s thoughts went to the family RV when the Dallas Stars called his name and made him the 43rd overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft on Saturday.

Dallas Stars draftee Jason Robertson.

Robertson was a California kid – he and his brothers began seriously playing the game because his father and grandfather were Los Angeles Kings season ticket holders.

With L.A. being L.A. with its traffic jams and with three kids with different practice times, the Robertsons used an recreational vehicle that served as a mobile command center that ferried kids to practice, served as a classroom, and a locker room on wheels.

“We had a big RV,” said Robertson, who is of Filipino heritage. “The rink in Los Angeles, with traffic, was probably an hour and a half away. My little brother and older brother play hockey so their practices would be at 3 and mine would be at 6. We’d all go at 3 o’clock and wait for my practice at 6.”

Jason Roberston grew up playing hockey in Los Angeles, Detroit, Tonroto and Kingston, Ont. He hopes Dallas is the next stop (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

The journeys in the RV, and playing  youth hockey in Detroit and Toronto, paid off with Robertson being taken in the second round by the Stars after his stellar season for the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.

The 6-foot-2 left wing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs led the team in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 regular season games and tallied 5 goals and 13 assists in 11 OHL playoff games.

The NHL’s Central Scouting ranked Robertson as the 14th-best North American skater eligible for the draft. Scouts predicted that he could go anywhere from a late first-round pick to anywhere in the second or third rounds.

Hockey people gush over his scoring hands and hockey intelligence, but have concerns about his skating ability. They note that it takes too many strides for him to reach top speed.

“It’s something that people say – everyone needs to work on something,” he said. “Obviously, for me, I need to work on that. It’s an opportunity to get better.”

If Robertson reaches the NHL, he would join Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba as the latest players of Filipino descent to play in the league.

“It’s nice to see the diversity,” said Robertson, whose mother was born in the Philippines. “It was nice to see the guys picked ahead of me that have different ethnicites. It’s really special to have more guys coming in.”

And Robertson and Dumba could someday be joined by Robertson’s younger brother, Nick, a forward chosen by the OHL’s Peterborough Petes in  the 2017 OHL Priority Selection draft April. He signed a contract to play with the Petes in May.

Jason said his younger brother is a good player,  but he makes no bones about who is the better Robertson on the ice.

“I normally dressed my little brother up as a goalie and ripped five-hole on him,” the older Robertson said with a laugh.

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Three players of color chosen in first round of 2017 NHL Draft

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CHICAGO – Three players of color took center stage at the 2017 National Hockey League Draft at Chicago’s United Center Friday night.

Two major junior hockey players of Asian heritage and a black French-Canadian player were chosen in the first round of the 31-team draft. And Ryan Reaves, a pugnacious veteran forward, was traded by the St. Louis Blues to the Pittsburgh Penguins, a move that capped the first day of the draft.

Thirteen proved to be a lucky number for Nick Suzuki, a forward for the Owen Sound Attack of the Ontario Hockey League. He was taken with the 13th pick in the draft by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.

Nick Suzuki of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack hopes to be Vegas-bound after being drafted in the first round by the Golden Knights (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

“It’s not every day you get picked by an expansion team,” Suzuki said after he had his named called  and donned the fledgling Golden Knights’ jersey. “I’m really happy about being picked by Vegas and I want to get there pretty  quick and see the new building.”

Suzuki was ranked as the 10th-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. The 5-foot-10 native of London, Ontario, was Owen Sound’s second-leading scorer last season with 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games.

 

His younger brother, forward Ryan Suzuki, was the first player chosen in the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Draft in April, plucked by the Barrie Colts.

Nick Suzuki said he has no worries about joining a new NHL team that’s bound to have more losses than wins in its first few seasons.

“I don’t think I’m nervous,” he said. “I’m more excited to see what Vegas is like. I don’t know if there’s pressure. I kind of just take it as a new team and you have to show them that you’re a good player.”

Kailer Yamamoto is looking forward to someday playing with Edmonton Oilers snipers Connor McDavid  and Leon Draisaitl  after Edmonton selected Yamamoto, a forward with the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs, with the 22nd pick of the draft.

“I’m really looking forward to going to that skill team,” Yamamoto said. “I think it’s going to definitely benefit my game.”

The 5-foot-7, 140-pound  right wing was listed as the 17th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.

Spokane Chiefs’ Kailer Yamamoto hopes to prove that size doesn’t matter after the Edmonton Oilers chose the 5-foot-7 forward in the first round of the NHL Draft (Photo/Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs).

A Spokane native of Japanese and Hawaiian heritage, Yamamoto led the Chiefs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 47 assists in 65 games. His older brother, Keanu, was Spokane’s fourth-leading scorer last season with 26 goals and 43 assists in 72 games.

 

“My dad’s dad, he’s from Japan actually, he was in the internment camps,” Kailer Yamamoto said. “My dad’s half Japanese so that makes me a quarter Japanese. It’s unbelievable to be Japanese, get the Japanese heritage, and hopefully be in the NHL someday.”

Right after Yamamoto had his name called, defenseman Pierre-Olivier Joseph was chosen with the 23nd pick of the draft by the Arizona Coyotes.

Joseph patrolled the blue line last season for the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he had 6 goals and 33 assists in 62 games.

Joseph wasn’t a stranger to the spectacle and hype of draft day. He watched his older brother, forward Mathieu Joseph of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, get drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the fourth round in 2015.

Still, the younger Joseph – who was ranked as the 27th-best North American skater eligible for the draft by Central Scouting – admitted to having a case of the jitters on Friday.

“Obviously, I didn’t want to think about the draft,” he said. “I played cards and watched movies as the day goes on, but as I sat in the stands and watched the names go by, I was thinking whether I’d get called or not.”

He credited his older brother and his parents for helping him achieve his draft day moment.

“I was a bit of an underdog,” Joseph said. “Obviously, I had my brother and my family to push me. Everyone has been there for me to push me and make me the player I am now.”

Thanks to Evan Moore for contributing to this report.

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Bellemare says ‘au revoir’ to Flyers and ‘viva Las Vegas’ to Golden Knights

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Can a Frenchman find a good cheesesteak in Las Vegas?

Former Philadelphia Flyers LW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is about to find out. The Philadelphia Flyers left wing was chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights to fill out its inaugural roster for the 2017-18 season.

The Flyers left Bellemare, a fourth-line forward and penalty kill specialist who scored 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 games, exposed to the draft and the Golden Knights happily plucked him for their roster Wednesday night.

He’s tallied 17 goals and 17 assists in 237 National Hockey League regular season games and 1 assist in five Stanley Cup Playoffs contests.

Bellemare, the ninth NHL player born in France, had a memorable 2016-17 season that began with him playing a key role on Team Europe in September’s World Cup of Hockey and ended with him being a catalyst on the French national team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship played in Paris and Cologne in May.

 

The Flyers didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season but the team rewarded Bellemare, 32, for his play by re-signing him to a two-year deal at $1.45 million per year and by making him an assistant captain, sharing the honor with high-scoring right wing Wayne Simmonds.

 

Bellemare was the only player of color chosen by the Golden knights out of 17 minority players that were draft-available. They were among a host of forwards, defensemen and goaltenders exposed to the draft by the NHL’s 30 teams.

 

More than a dozen players of color are eligible for Vegas in NHL expansion draft

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Some of the National Hockey League’s players of color are feeling a draft.

At least 17 minority players are among the players left unprotected by the NHL’s 30 teams for Wednesday’s Expansion Draft to help form the inaugural roster for the Vegas Golden Knights.

The players of color made available – a nicer phrase than “unprotected” – include a likely future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee,  three multiple Stanley Cup winners, three Olympians, and a few minor league prospects.

Here’s a summary of the players available:

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Emerson Etem, left wing. The 29th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Etem has bounced from the Ducks to the New York Rangers to the Vancouver Canucks and back to the Ducks. And he’s boomeranged between Anaheim and its American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego.

He only appeared in three games for the Ducks in 2016-17 and was held scoreless. He does have 22 goals and 24 assists in 173 NHL regular season games and 6 goals and 2 assists in 23 playoff games.

BOSTON BRUINS

Malcolm Subban, a Boston Bruins’ 2012 first-round pick. Could he be Vegas-bound?

Malcolm Subban, goaltender. Subban was 24th player picked in the 2012 NHL Draft but has been unable to secure a spot on a Bruins roster that features Tuuka Rask between the pipes. Rask won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 as the NHL’s best goaltender.

The younger brother of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, Malcolm Subban appeared in 32 games last season for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL farm team. His stats: 11 wins, 14 losses, a 2.41 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He had 2 losses in the AHL playoffs and sported a 2.12 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Johnny Oduya, defense. Oduya was a member of the 2013 and 2015 Chicago Stanley Cup teams and the Swedish team that won the Silver Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 52 regular season games for the Blackhawks last season. He has 37 goals and 145 assists in 798 career regular season contests and 6 goals and 22 assists in 106 career playoff games.

Jordin Tootoo, right wing. The diminutive dynamo of Inuit heritage was limited to 2 goals and 1 assist in 50 regular season games in 2016-17. He has 65 goals and 96 assists in 723 games with Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and the New Jersey Devils.

DALLAS STARS

Forward Gemel Smith, the Dallas Stars’ 2012 fourth-round pick..

Gemel Smith, center. The Stars took the 23-year-old in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He hasn’t seen much time in Big D.  He scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 17 regular season games for Dallas in 2016-17.

His younger brother, forward Giavani Smith, was taken by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round with the 46th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.

EDMONTON OILERS

Jujhar Khaira, center. Khaira was one of the feel-good stories of the 2016-17 season when he scored his first NHL goal –  a source of pride for North America’s South Asian community. The Oilers took Khaira in the third round with the 63rd overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. His one goal and 2 assists were his only points in 10 games for the Oilers in 2016-17.

LOS ANGELES KINGS 

Jarome Iginla, right wing.  Iginla, 39, is one of hockey’s most-decorated players. He’s a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and a recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer in 2002 and 2004 and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2002. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award – the most valuable player award voted by the players – in 2002.

Iginla, a sure-fire Hall of Famer when he retires, had 14 goals and 13 assists in 80 games for the Kings in 2016-17.

Jordan Nolan, center. A proud member of the Ojibwe Nation, Nolan played for the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and 2014. Nolan, the son of former Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Ted Nolan, appeared in only 46 games for the Kings last season and tallied 4 goals and 4 assists.

MINNESOTA WILD

Matt Dumba, defense.  Of Filipino heritage, Dumba posted a career-best 11 goals and 23 assists in 76 games. His plus/minus – an indicator of defensive responsibility – improved from plus-1 in 2015-16 to plus-15 in 2016-17.

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Al Montoya, goaltender, Montreal Canadiens

Al Montoya, goaltender. The well-traveled Cuban-American goaltender could be on the move again. A 2004 first-round of the Rangers,  Montoya has strapped on the pads for the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers,  Phoenix Coyotes, and Winnipeg Jets before he seemingly settled in as Carey Price’s backup in Montreal.

Montoya appeared in 19 games for the Habs, posted an 8-6-4 record with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Devante Smith-Pelly, right wing. Devo is coming off a down season in New Jersey, his third team since the Ducks chose him with in the second round with the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft. He scored only 4 goals and 5 assists in 50 games.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Christopher Gibson, goaltender. The black Finn didn’t play a minute in Brooklyn in 2016-17 and had a short season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Isles’ AHL team. There, he appeared in seven games and won 6. He had a 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Gibson played in four NHL games in 2015-16, posted a 1-1-1 record with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.

 

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Philadelphia Flyers LW Pierre Edouard Bellemare

Pierre-Edourard Bellemare, left wing. The French player probably enjoyed his most memorable season in 2016-17. It started with the World Cup of Hockey, where the fourth-line Flyers player became a key contributor for Team Europe and ended with him playing before his countrymen at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Paris.

In between, Bellemare had a solid enough year for the Flyers that the team re-signed him to a two-year deal at $1.45 million per year and made him an assistant captain. The 32-year-old checking line forward scored 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 regular season games. He has 17 goals and 17 assists in 237 career NHL games.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Trevor Daley, defense. Daley is experiencing the cruel business side of hockey. Win a Stanley Cup one week, get exposed to the expansion draft the next.  The 33-year-old offensively-talented and defensively-responsible player began his NHL career with the Dallas Stars in 2003-04. Daley reached the 20-point mark seven times during his tenure with Dallas.

He had 5 goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the Penguins in 2016-17 and tallied 1 goal and 4 assists in 21 playoff games that ended with him winning a second Stanley Cup. Daley 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 career NHL regular season games.

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Joel Ward, right wing.  Injuries in 2016-17 hampered the 36-year-old wing who earned a reputation as a clutch playoff performer during his NHL career. He scored 10 goals and 19 assists in 78 regular season games and 1 goal and 3 assists in six playoff games.

He’s tallied 22 goals and 30 assists in 83 playoff games for San Jose, Nashville, and the Washington Capitals.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

J.T. Brown, right wing. A tough player who isn’t afraid to speak his mind on social issues, Brown had 3 goals and 3 assists for the Lightning last season. He has 18 goals and 39 assists in 262 NHL regular season games.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

T.J. Oshie, right wing. Why in the world would the Capitals expose a player who notched 33 goals and 23 assists in 68 games last season? Our friends at the Russian Machine Never Breaks Capitals fan site break it down to money and uncertainty. Oshie needs a new contract and the NHL currently isn’t sure what the league salary cap will be next season. And Oshie could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.  All that might be enough for the Golden Knights to pass on him, leaving the Caps to move forward with a new deal once the 2017-18 salary cap is set.

Introducing the All-Time Color of Hockey team

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We’ve picked the 2016-17 Color of Hockey All-Star team, but who would be on the greatest team of players of color of all time?

My choices span eras – from a time when goalies stood up and sticks were actually made of all wood – to today’s fast-paced, high-tech game. You’ll recognize some of the players chosen for the team while others named may not be familiar to new hockey fans.

Let’s be clear, this isn’t affirmative action on ice. These current and former players have distinguished themselves at hockey’s highest levels – their Stanley Cup rings, NHL awards, Olympic medals or Hockey Hall of Fame inductions prove that.

So who would you choose for your all-time team? Share your picks via the Color of Hockey Facebook page or Twitter @ColorOfHockey.

In the meantime, let the debate begin!

Grant Fuhr, goaltender. Owner of five Stanley Cup rings, a seven-time National Hockey League All-Star,  the first black player inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003, and one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players, Fuhr is a no-brainer to be the All-Time team’s starting netminder.

 

Fuhr won all five Cups with the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s and early 1990s. But he also played for the Toronto Maple Leafs,  Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, and Los Angeles Kings in an NHL career that spanned from 1981-82 to 1999-00.

A 1988 Vezina Trophy winner as the league’s best goaltender, Fuhr is only one of six NHL goalies with over 400 wins.

His stats: 403 wins, 295 losses, 114 ties and a 3.38 goals-against average in 867 NHL games. Not bad for a player who many thought was washed up after a season with the Kings in 1994-95.  His career was resurrected by a trade to the Blues and hooking up with fitness guru Bob Kersee, husband and trainer of Olympic Gold Medal sprinter Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

Fuhr gave a special shout-out in his Hall of Fame induction speech to another person who influenced his life and career – Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player.

“It just shows that hockey is such a diverse sport that anybody can be successful in it,” Fuhr said in 2003. “I’m proud of that, and I thank Willie for that.”

Jarome Iginla become the NHL’s second black captain as a member of the Calgary Flames.

Jarome Iginla, right wing. Iggy will be the second black NHL player in the Hall of Fame after he retires. He should be a first-ballot inductee just for the length of his full name: Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tij Junior Elvis Iginla.

Iginla, whose father is Nigerian, is one of Canada’s most-decorated and loved players. He scored two goals that helped power Canada to a 5-2 win over the U.S. at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City that gave the True North its first Olympic hockey Gold Medal in 50 years.

He scored 5 goals at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, but he’s best known for his assist on Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby’s overtime goal that clinched another Gold Medal for Canada over the U.S.

Iginla has 625 goals, 675 assists in 1,554 NHL games, most of them with the Flames from 1996-97 to 2012-13.  He has 37 goals and 31 assists in 81 playoff games.

He won the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer in 2002 and 2004 and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2002. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award – the most valuable player award voted by the players – in 2002.

But it’s the big trophy, the Stanley Cup, that Iginla covets most to cap his career. That Cup quest has taken him to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings.

An aside: With all his accomplishments, why was Iginla left off the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list? Just asking.

Bryan Trottier, center. A seven-time Stanley Cup winner – four straight with the New York Islanders, two with the Penguins and one as an assistant coach for the Avalanche – an eight-time NHL All-Star, and winner of both the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP and the Art Ross Trophy as its top scorer in 1979.

 

Of Metis, Chippewa, and Cree heritage, Trottier was the glue of the Islanders’ Cup dynasty.  He won the Calder Cup as the NHL’s best rookie in 1975-76, a season in which he scored 32 goals and 63 assists.

He played 1,279 NHL regular season games between 1975-76 to 1993-94 and tallied 524 goals and 901 assists. He notched 71 goals and 113 assists in 221 playoff games for the Islanders and Penguins. He also performed a rare feat by representing the United States and Canada in international competition.

Trottier entered the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997 and is on the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players list.

Paul Kariya, left wing. One of the mightiest of the then-named Mighty Ducks of Anaheim when it came to goal scoring.

The 5-foot-10, 180-pound wing played 15 seasons NHL with Anaheim, Colorado, St. Louis and the Nashville Predators. He scored 402 goals and 587 assists in 989 regular season games and 16 goals, 23 assists in 46 playoff contests.

 

He led the University of Maine Black Bears to the 1993 NCAA Division I championship and won the Hobey Baker Award that year as U.S. college hockey’s best player. The Mighty Ducks chose him with the fourth overall pick in the 1993 NHL Draft.

Kariya was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 1995 and was an NHL All-Star in 1995-96, 1996-97, 1998-99, 1999-00 and 2002-03.

Kariya, whose Japanese-Canadian father was born in an internment camp during World War II, played on Canada’s 1994 Silver Medal-winning Winter Olympics squad and on the 2002 Olympic team.

Jim Neilson, defense. Nicknamed “Chief,” Neilson played at the dawn of the era of rushing defensemen like Bobby Orr and Brad Park. Part Cree, part Dane, Neilson was a 6-foot-2, 205-pound defenseman who was agile enough to occasionally play left wing.

N.Y. Rangers defenseman Jim Neilson zeroes in on Montreal Canadiens goaltender Loren “Gump” Worsley (Photo/Courtesy Hockey Hall of Fame).

But D was where Neilson’s heart and mindset were and he helped solidify the Rangers’ blue line from 1962-63 to 1973-74. He finished his career playing for the old California Golden Seals, Cleveland Barons and the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers.

“I don’t go out of my way to score goals,” Neilson once told Inside Hockey. “I get a much better feeling when I break up a scoring play or block a shot.”

Neilson scored 69 goals and 299 assists in 1,023 NHL games and 2 goals and 16 assists in 65 post-season contests.

His numbers aren’t as eye-popping as offensive-minded Hall of Famers Orr, Park, Paul Coffey, and Ray Bourque. But his talent level can’t be disputed. He was an NHL All-Star in 1966-67, 1969-70, and 1970-71.

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

P.K. Subban, defense. Subban is currently in his playing prime, yet he’s already accomplished enough to earn a spot on this list.

He won the James Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenceman in 2013. He was a member of the Canadian team that won the Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – although he only played 11 minutes during the entire tournament. He helped Canada capture gold at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship tournaments in 2008 and 2009.

He has 73 goals and 245 assists in in 500 NHL regular season games and 13 goals and 36 assists in 74 career playoff games. Most of his career points came as a member of the Canadiens, the team that selected him in the second round with the 43rd overall pick of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Subban anticipated being a Canadien for life, establishing roots in Montreal and pledging $10 million to Montreal Children’s Hospital – the largest philanthropic commitment by any athlete in Canadian history.

But Subban was sent to the Predators in June 2016 in a controversial trade for defenseman Shea Weber.

SECOND TEAM

Ray Emery, goaltender. A netminder known for dropping the gloves as well as using them to make dramatic saves, Emery’s career is a tale of two goalies. He was the brash youngster who led the Ottawa Senators to the Stanley Cup Final in 2006-07.

Goaltender Ray Emery played for four NHL teams in his career.

After suffering a career-threatening hip injury, he morphed into a steady, mature veteran who served as a backup goalie on the 2013 Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks. But even as an aging vet, Sugar Ray enjoyed fisticuffs.

Still, Emery, a 2001 Ottawa fourth-round draft pick, was one of the best puck-stoppers in the business. He compiled a 145-86-28 win/loss/overtime loss record in 287 regular season games from 2002-03 to 2014-15.

He appeared in 39 playoff games for Ottawa, Philadelphia and Anaheim and had a 21-17 record.

Tony McKegney, left wing. McKegney was the NHL’s first high-scoring black player, the first to score more than 20 goals in a season.

He scored 20 or more goals for five straight seasons from 1979-80 to 1983-84. His best season: 40 goals and 38 assists in 80 games for the Blues in 1987-88.

McKegney tallied 320 goals and 319 assists in 912 games from 1978-79 to 1990-91 for Buffalo, St. Louis, Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks.

McKegney’s route to the NHL was rooted in racism. He initially signed a contract with the Birmingham Bulls of the defunct World Hockey Association, but the team’s owner had second thoughts after fans in Alabama complained about the prospect of having a black player on the team’s roster. So McKegney, the 32nd player chosen in the 1978 NHL Draft, joined Buffalo instead.

Tony McKegney was a high-scoring forward for Buffalo, St. Louis, Detroit, Quebec, N.Y. Rangers. and Minnesota North Stars (Photo/Buffalo Sabres Archives).

Angela James, center. The first woman of color inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010, James was a trailblazer regarded as the Wayne Gretzky of women’s hockey. She was a dominant player in the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association in the late 1970s and a fixture on Canada’s international women’s teams.

She led Canada to a Gold Medal at the first International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship in 1990, scoring 11 goals in five games. She powered Canada to gold medals in 1992 in Finland, 1994 in Lake Placid, and 1997 in Kitchener, Ontario.

James was also a force for Canada on gold medal teams in 1996 and 1999 at the Three Nations Cup tournament.

Despite those impressive credentials, Canada left James off its roster for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan- the first Winter Games that women’s hockey was featured.

Canada’s Angela James is one of two black players in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Photo/Courtesy Hockey Hall of Fame).

The snub didn’t stop the accolades from rolling in. James was inducted into the Black Hockey and Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Colleges Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2006.

She was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 2008 along with fellow Canadian Geraldine Heaney and the United States’ Cammi Granato. James entered Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.

The Canadian Women’s Hockey League introduced the Angela James Bowl, a trophy awarded to the league’s leading scorer, in 2008. An indoor ice rink in Toronto’s Flemingdon Park was renamed the Angela James Arena in 2009, making it one of the few skating facilities in North America named after a black person.

Forward Reggie Leach, Number 27, scored 19 goals in 16 playoff games in 1975-76.

Reggie Leach, right wing. Nicknamed the “Riverton Rifle” for his Manitoba hometown and his lethal shot, Leach scored 381 goals and 285 assists in 934 NHL regular season games with the Flyers, Bruins, Red Wings, and California Golden Seals from 1970-71 to 1982-83.

He was a prime-time Stanley Cup Playoffs performer with 47 goals and 22 assists in 94 career post-season games.

He scored 19 playoff goals in 1976 – 5 of them in one game against the Bruins. Leach is the only non-goaltender to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable playoff performer while skating for a losing team. The Canadiens defeated the Flyers for the Stanley Cup in 1976.

The proud member of the Ojibwe Nation is the only member of the Philadelphia Flyers’ famed LCB Line – Leach, center Bobby Clarke, and left wing Bill Barber –  who isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame, which many hockey aficionados regard as an injustice.

Trevor Daley, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

Trevor Daley, defense. A smooth-skating, offensively-talented and defensively-responsible player who began his NHL career with the Dallas Stars in 2003-04. Daley reached the 20-point mark seven times during his tenure with Dallas.

He has 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 regular season games. He has 6 goals and 11 assists in 69 playoff games – and counting.

An ice-time eater, Daley averaged 21 minutes per game for Dallas between 2008 and 2015. Still, the Stars traded Daley to the Blackhawks for forward Patrick Sharp. After 29 games the Hawks dealt Daley to the Penguins in December 2015.

There, Daley became a cog in Pittsburgh’s drive to the Stanley Cup last year, though an ankle injury prevented him from playing in the Final against the San Jose Sharks.

That didn’t stop Daley from being the first Penguins player to be handed the Cup from team captain Sidney Crosby for a skate after winning it. The gesture fulfilled a wish from Daley’s ailing mother to see her son hoist the Stanley Cup.

A week later, Trudy Daley passed away from cancer at age 51.

Alec Martinez, defense. A two-time Stanley Cup winner, Martinez has been a steady puck-moving defenseman since his first full season the  Kings in 2009-10. Los Angeles selected Martinez from Ohio’s Miami University in the fourth round of the 2007 NHL Draft.

Since then, Martinez has tallied 48 goals and 99 assists in 419 NHL regular season contests. He has 6 goals and 10 assists in 60 career playoff games.

In 2014, Martinez became the first NHL defenseman to score clinching goals in two playoff series in the same season. One goal was the Game 5 overtime winner against the Rangers that clinched the Stanley Cup for the Kings.

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Meet the 2016-17 Color of Hockey All-Star team

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A friend recently presented me with a challenge: pick a 2016-17 Color of Hockey All-Star team.

Challenge accepted! But it wasn’t easy. Several players of color had really good 2016-17 seasons, enough to spark lively bar debates over who’s worthy of being a first-team all-star and who’s not.

Toronto Maple Leafs’ center Auston Matthews.

So here are my picks. Weigh in with your choices via the Color of Hockey Facebook page or Twitter @ColorOfHockey. Without further ado:

Auston Matthews, center, Toronto Maple Leafs. The 19-year-old Mexican-American from Arizona terrorized NHL goalies in his rookie year and returned the Leafs to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Matthews led the team in scoring with 40 goals and 29 assists while playing in all 82 regular season games. His 40 goals tied him for second in the NHL with Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov. Matthews’ 69 points were tops among NHL rookies and 20th among all NHL players.

He would be a top player for the United States on its 2018 Winter Olympics hockey team. But the National Hockey League insists that its not sending it’s  players to PyeongChang, South Korea.

 

Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Wayne Simmonds, right wing, Philadelphia Flyers. Simmonds won the Most Valuable Player award at the NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles in January. He also played for Silver Medal-winning  Team Canada at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Paris and Cologne in May.

The Wayne Train led the Flyers in goals with 31. He was fourth on the team in scoring with 54 points – the combination of 31 goals and 23 assists. He also was the Flyers’ toughest customer, leading the team with 122 penalty minutes.

 

Brandon Saad, F, Columbus Blue Jackets

Brandon Saad, left wing, Columbus Blue Jackets. The U.S.-born son of a Syrian immigrant, Saad was the Blue Jackets’ third-leading scorer with 24 goals and 29 assists in 82 games He was the 18th-leading scorer among the league’s left wings, a group that includes Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals, Artemi Panarin of the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand.

Dustin Byfuglien, defense, Winnipeg Jets. Big shot. Big hits. Big man. Big Buff, at 6-foot-5, 260-pounds, was fifth among NHL defensemen in scoring with 13 goals and 39 assists in 80 games. He was fifth on the Jets in scoring with 52 points.

USA Hockey’s brain trust left him off the 2014 U.S. Olympic team and his use by Blue Jackets Head Coach John Tortorella as bench of the U.S. team in September’s World Cup of Hockey was curious. But Byfuglien probably  would have gotten a hard look for the 2018 Winter Games

 

Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets. What? No P.K. Subban? Let the arguments begin. Jones, the son of former National Basketball Association player Popeye Jones, was Columbus’ seventh-leading scorer with 12 goals and 30 assists in 75 regular season games.

He was 19th among NHL defensemen in scoring. Subban, the Nashville Predators’ D-man, was 22nd among the league’s blue-liners with 10 goals and 30 assists in 66 games.

Jones would be a lock for Team USA at the 2018 Winter Games in February if NHLers were going.

 

 

 

 

Carey Price, goaltender, Montreal Canadiens. Price rebounded from an injury-shortened 2015-16 season to finish fifth among NHL goalies with a 30-20-5 record and a 2.23 goals-against average. Price, whose mother is a former Ulkatcho First Nation chief, had three shutouts during the 2016-17 season.

Price was an Olympian in 2014 and would be in the mix to be Canada’s top netminder for the 2018 Winter Games if the NHL were sending its players.

SECOND TEAM

Nazem Kadri, F, Toronto Maple Leafs

Nazem Kadri, center, Toronto Maple Leafs. Kadri had a breakout year with Toronto, scoring 32 goals and 29 assists in 82 games. The son of a Lebanese Muslim father,  the London, Ontario-born Kadri finished 15th in scoring among centers, an elite group that includes the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid and the Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom.

Evander Kane, left wing, Buffalo Sabres. Talented on the ice and sometimes trying off it, Kane tallied 28 goals and 15 assists in 70 games for Buffalo. He was sixth on the Sabres in scoring and 35th among the NHL’s left wings.

 

T.J. Oshie, F, Washington Capitals

T.J. Oshie, right wing, Washington Capitals. Of Ojibwe heritage, Oshie enjoyed a stellar second season with the Capitals. He finished fifth on the team in scoring with 33 goals and 23 assists in 68 games. Four of those goals were game-winners.

A shootist remembered for his stunning display of moves during a dramatic U.S.-Russia shootout at the 2014 Olympics, Oshie would surely be under consideration for the 2018 U.S. Olympic squad.

P.K. Subban, defense, Nashville Predators. Adjusting to a new team, new town, and coping with injuries, Subban’s still manged to score 40 points on 10 goals and 30 assists. He’ll forever be linked to defenseman Shea Weber for whom he was swapped in the stunning trade last summer between Nashville and the Canadiens.

 

 

So how did Weber do in 2016-17? He had 17 goals and 25 assists – 42 points – in 78 games. Weber’s Canadiens were ousted from the playoffs in the first round by the New York Rangers. Subban and the Predators are playing in the Cup Final against the defending champion Penguins.

Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota Wild

Matt Dumba, defense, Minnesota Wild. The fourth-year NHLer posted a career-best 11 goals and 23 assists in 76 games. His plus/minus – an indicator of defensive responsibility – improved from plus-1 in 2015-16 to plus-15 in 2016-17.

Charles Williams, goaltender, Canisius College. Sure, he’s not in the NHL but that doesn’t diminish the amazing 2016-17 season Williams had. He helped guide Canisius’ Golden Griffins to an Atlantic Hockey regular season title and was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, presented to the top NCAA Division I men’s hockey player.

Canisius College goalie Charles Williams signed a contact with the ECHL’s Manchester Monarchs in March ( (Photo/Canisius College).

Williams posted a 15-6-4 record and helped backstop Canisius to a 17-game unbeaten streak. He led all Division I goalies with a .946 save percentage during the regular season. He was tied for first with 5 shutouts and second in the nation with a 1.83 goals-against average.

Williams, who was a fifth-year transfer student, signed a standard player contract in March with the Manchester Monarchs, the Los Angeles Kings’ ECHL farm team.

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Los Angeles Kings acquire Bokondji Imama and sign him to a 3-year deal

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The Los Angeles Kings obtained a sniper and a fighter when they signed former Tampa Bay Lightning draftee Bokondji Imama to a three-year entry level contract Thursday.

Left wing Bokondji Imama was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015.

Imama, 20, recently completed his final season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The left wing’s 41 goals led the Sea Dogs and ranked seventh in the QMJHL. He was fourth on the team in scoring with 55 points – the combination of 41 goals and 14 assists.

He helped lead the Sea Dogs to the QMJHL championship, scoring 8 goals and 7 assists in 18 playoff games. Saint John lost in the semi-final of the Mastercard Memorial Cup to the Ontario Hockey League champion Erie Otters.

Imama also displayed toughness with his scoring touch, finishing third on the Sea Dogs with 105 penalty minutes. He was regarded as one of the best and most feared fighters in the QMJHL.

Former Saint John Sea Dogs left wing Bokondji Imama hopes to make the Los Angeles Kings after signing a three-year deal with the team (Photo/David Connell/Saint John Sea Dogs).

The French Canadian-born son of immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Imama was chosen by the Lightning in the sixth round with 180th overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft.

Kings acquired Imama’s rights from Tampa Bay Wednesday for a 2018 seventh-round draft pick. Los Angeles had to sign him to an NHL contract before the June 1, 5 p.m. signing deadline.

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