Harnarayan Singh adds masala to ‘Hockey Night in Canada’s’ Punjabi broadcast

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How much does Harnarayan Singh love hockey?

“My wife and I had our wedding at a hockey arena and we had a ceremonial face-off between her and I,” Singh told me recently. “Life-sized Stanley Cup cake, mini-hockey sticks with out names engraved for everyone, we had hockey cards of ourselves and the stats were cool. My wife was “Rookie of the Year” because it was her first year teaching. It was a hoot.”

Hockey is as big a part of Singh as his Sikh faith and Canadian heritage. He combines them all when he gets behind the mic and calls games for  “Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition,” the sister broadcast to “Hockey Night in Canada.”

Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition announcer Harnarayan Singh, right, with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

His classic call of the game-winning goal by then-Pittsburgh Penguins forward Nick Bonino in Game 1 of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final made him a social media sensation and catapulted “Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition” into the mainstream.

Singh isn’t an overnight sensation. He’s been calling games in Punjabi – Canada’s third-most spoken language behind English and French –  since 2008 as part of “Hockey Night in Canada’s” effort to develop a more diverse audience.

You can hear Singh converse about his career, growing up Sikh in Canada, and the impact of “Hockey Night’s” Punjabi broadcast on the nation’s South Asian community in the latest episode of the Color of Hockey podcast.

Singh has achieved what many people thought he couldn’t: to become a prominent face of  hockey while speaking Punjabi and wearing the turban and ample beard that signifies his heritage and faith.

“If this could happen to me, a guy from Brooks, Alberta, a small town in southern Alberta, and with how I look and with people telling me it was impossible, if my dream could come true, why can’t it for anyone else?” he said.

Still, Singh says he occasionally hears from viewers who challenge the need for a hockey broadcast beyond English or French.

“You do get these sorts of comments where a person, I think, might not understand where  we’re coming from and why we’re doing this,” he said. “But when you explain to them how this is benefiting the sport of hockey and how beneficial this is to grow the sport of hockey, I think some of those perspectives can be changed.”

Singh says he and his “Hockey Night” Punjabi crew bring the masala – a spiciness – to their broadcast that reflects their South Asian roots and connects with their audience.

And they’ve had to be creative to do it as several hockey words and phrases don’t translate in Punjabi. So Singh made up his own, including the popular “chapared shot,” using the Punjabi word for slap in the face to describe a slap shot.

The Hockey Night in Canada Punjabi Edition commentators. Left to right, Randip Janda, Harnarayan Singh, Harpreet Pandher, and Bhupinder Hundal.

“The Punjabi community, they love to laugh, they love their food, they love their music, they wear vibrant colors, they talk loud,” Singh told me. “We try to incorporate those community characteristics on our calls and have fun with it.”

In doing so, Singh and his crew are helping members of Canada’s growing South Asian community weave themselves into the fabric of the country. Hockey is, after all, as Canadian as it gets.

Indians make up nearly 4 percent of Canada’s overall population and Sikhs account for less than 1.5 percent of the population. Canada has the world’s second-largest Sikh population outside of India with over 455,000 with most of them living in British Columbia and the Toronto area.

“When we first began the show I don’t think anyone could have even imagine the impact it would have on the community,” he told me. “First and foremost, I think it made the community feel proud of themselves that they had made it as a part of Canadian society.

“There’s also been some cool stories from people who say that at their workplace, having hockey in Punjabi and understanding the sport, has helped develop better relationships and rapport at work,” he added. “They’re able to talk about last night’s game. I mean, hockey is that water cooler topic in Canada.”

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An old school ex-player praises Tampa Bay Lightning’s J.T. Brown for ‘taking a stand’

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One thought raced through Bill Riley’s mind when he saw Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Brown raise his fist in the air Saturday and become the first National Hockey League player to engage in a silent protest during the playing of the U.S. national anthem.

Yes!

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown is the first NHL player to protest during the U.S. national anthem.

“I think it’s good that he took a stand,” Riley, who became the National Hockey League’s third black player when he skated for  the Washington Capitals in 1974-75, told me. “Something had to be done.”

Brown conducted his protest in Sunrise, Florida, before the Lightning faced the home team Florida Panthers.

Riley, 67, saw it on TV from his Nova Scotia home. He watches a lot of U.S. news when he’s at home and is unnerved by what he sees: a deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., organized by neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan supporters;  a spate of high-profile killings of African-Americans by law enforcement officers from Ferguson, Missouri, to Staten Island, New York; and a president who seems more concerned by National Football League players taking knees to protest the treatment of African-Americans than the damage Hurricane Maria caused to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Trump lashed out at athletes who protest during the national anthem, accusing them of displaying a total disrespect for the American flag, a “total disrespect of our heritage, a total disrespect of everything that we stand for.”

Riley respectfully disagrees.

Bill Riley, the NHL’s third black player, played in an era when black players didn’t talk publicly about the racial abuse they endured, let alone speak out about political topics.

“They’re not trying to cause trouble. They’re doing things in a peaceful way,” he told me. “They’re not disrespecting the flag, like people are saying. They are not doing it to disrespect the flag. They’re just trying to make a point.”

This from a hard-nosed, old-school former player who skated in an era when black players rarely spoke out publicly about the racial abuse they endured from fans, opposing players, and even teammates. Forget about taking a political stand.

“A lot of stuff you had to pretend you didn’t hear,” Riley told me. “Because you didn’t want to become a problem because they’d get rid of you.”

Riley said he hopes that doesn’t happen to Brown. The 27-year-old right wing isn’t a superstar – he tallied only 3 goals and 3 assists in 64 games with the lightning in 2016-17. But he is a popular player and active in the Tampa Bay community, especially when it comes to introducing the area’s kids of color to hockey.

Brown has taken some heat from fans for his protest  Saturday. But he’s also received support from Riley and others in the hockey world.

Riley said Brown’s defiant stance Saturday was refreshing and he hopes other NHL players follow his lead.

“I’d like to see more of the white players stand with some of these black guys,” he told me.

Brown told The Tampa Bay Times Joe Smith  that he raised his fist because “I wanted to do something to show my support.”

“There are some issues that we have to talk about,” Brown told Smith. “In my mind, I’m just trying to bring awareness and any type of conversation we can get started would be great.”

He elaborated further in a lengthy tweet Sunday, saying “there comes a time when you cannot remain silent, hoping and wishing for change.”

“I also want to reiterate that this is not and never has been about about the military or disrespecting the flag,” he tweeted. “It is about police brutality, racial injustice, and inequality in this country.It is something that I and many others feel needs to be addressed. I love my country, but that doesn’t mean I cannot acknowledge that it is not perfect.”

Brown added that “I have been through my fair share of racism both on and off the ice.” He said he’s received death threats and racist comments since his protest.

Brown, the son of former Minnesota Vikings running back Ted Brown, hasn’t been afraid to speak his mind on matters of race and politics. In September, he reached into his pockets and donated $1,500 to help get a Confederate monument removed from Tampa’s downtown courthouse.

He criticized Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Mike Tortorella in September 2016 for  vowing to bench any player  any player on the U.S. World Cup of Hockey team who conducted a protest during the national anthem as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did last season.

“Wouldn’t benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap’s point of oppression? But hey,” Brown wrote in a tweet that went viral.

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P.K. Subban’s dad talks hockey, life and catfish on new Color of Hockey podcast

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Karl Subban thought he was done.

The proud papa of three black professional hockey players thought he was finished writing his first book, “How We Did It, The Subban Family Plan For Success In Hockey, School And Life.”

Then The Trade happened.

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

The Montreal Canadiens swapped All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban to the Nashville Predators straight-up for All-Star defenseman Shea Weber.

The move shocked the hockey world, helped guide the Predators to their first Stanley Cup Final appearance, and sent Karl Subban scrambling to his computer to write another chapter for his book.

“Yeah, I had to write it,” Karl told me. “It was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable run to the Stanley Cup Final. I’ve never been through that before. It took me a long time to believe that we were there.”

The elder Subban  talks about his book, The Trade, the Predators’ Stanley Cup run, racism, and what it’s like raising three very talented hockey players in the first episode of the Color of Hockey podcast.

Our new podcast, like this blog, will tell the story of the history and growing impact of people of color in ice hockey at all levels and all aspects of the game – on the ice, off the ice, behind the bench, in the broadcast booth, and in the front office, wherever.

And what better lead-off guest than Karl, father of Pernell Karl (P.K.);  Malcolm, a goaltender and Boston Bruins 2012 first round draft pick who was waived by the B’s this week and claimed by the expansion Vegas Golden Knights; and Jordan, a 2013 Vancouver Canucks fourth-round draft pick who’s a defenseman for the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ American Hockey League franchise in Upstate New York.

P.K. tallied 10 goals and 30 assists in 66 games in his first season in Nashville. He had 2 goals and 10 assists in 22 playoff games.

Malcolm compiled an 11-14-5 record in 32 games for the Providence Bruins and posted a 2.41 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He was winless in the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs with a 2.12 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

Jordan notched 16 goals and 20 assists in 65 regular season games last season for Utica. He had 2 goals and an assist in four AHL playoff contests.

Providence Bruins goaltender Malcolm Subban looks to work his way to the NHL (Photo/Alan Sullivan).

True to its title, “How We Did It” gives insight to how Karl and Maria Subban guided their boys through various levels of hockey – from lacing on their first pair of skates skates to hearing their names called at National Hockey League drafts.

“The African proverb, I use it in the book, ‘It takes a village to raise a child,'” Karl told me. “It also takes a village to raise an NHLer…to grow their potential. Maria and I can’t stand there and say ‘Look at us, we did it all by ourselves.'”

At 5-foot-9, defenseman Jordan Subban is out to prove that he belongs with big brother P.K. in the NHL (Photo/Lindsay A. Mogul/Utica Comets).

But the book is also deals with immigration – Karl’s family moved to Canada from Jamaica and Maria’s from Montserrat – education, and the ugly realities of racism, an issue that P.K. first confronted when he was an 8 year old playing minor hockey in Toronto.

It’s a lesson that Karl, a semi-retired Toronto public school principal, was sadden that his son learned so early.

“He came out of the dressing room crying. He said a boy on the ice called him the N-word,” Karl writes in the book. “We said there was no need to cry because it was only a word. We probably said something about ‘sticks and stones.’ There weren’t too many kids playing who looked like P.K., but now someone had communicated it to him in a way he didn’t like.”

He’s endured racist taunts and attitudes as a pro, most notably during the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs when so-called Bruins unleashed a torrent of hateful emails and social media posts after he scored two goals, including the double-overtime winner.

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When confronted with racist ugliness, Karl says P.K. follows a bit of advice that he gave him: Don’t let them win.

“I’ve told P.K. it’s vital to change the channel, because if you ruminate over it, you can’t free yourself from it,” the elder Subban writes. “It does take practice, though – and P.K. has had a lot of practice.”

Karl had to change the channel when the Canadiens traded P.K.. Montreal was Karl’s team ever since he was a boy growing up in Sudbury, Ontario, watching the Canadiens’ French broadcast on TV, and dreaming of being Habs goaltender Ken Dryden.

As an adult, he thought there was nothing like seeing a game in hockey-mad Montreal. Then came Nashville.

“I didn’t think there was anything better until I got to Nashville, and then I said ‘Wow!'” he told me. “It’s so different and a great experience. It’s the music there, the environment. After the game, the honky tonks, the bars, the food, I love country music. And then we went on that (Stanley Cup) run, and the city, which is alive anyway 24/7, it was taken to another level.”

But Karl still can’t quite get used to what’s becoming a tradition in Nashville: fans tossing catfish onto the Bridgestone Arena ice.

“I just want to eat those catfish,” he told me. “There’s a restaurant where I go, they have this catfish thing and I love it. Like, I’m saying ‘please don’t throw them on the ice. Can you just give them to that restaurant I go to and have them prepare it the way they prepare it there.”

Follow the Color of Hockey on Facebook and Twitter @ColorOfHockey. Download the Color of Hockey podcast on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher.

 

‘Soul on Ice’ documentary to make London debut for U.K.’s Black History Month

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“Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future,” the award-winning black hockey history documentary, is heading to London in October as part of the United Kingdom’s Black History Month celebration.

Canadian filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason’s hockey labor of love is scheduled to be screened at London’s Picturehouse Central on Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10:30 a.m., and Sunday, Oct. 22, at 9 p.m. The screenings will be followed by question and answer sessions with Mason.

As part of the Ourscreen program, advance tickets are sold for the two events. Tickets can be purchased online through the Ourscreen website linked here.

“Soul on Ice Past, Present and Future” chronicles the joy and the pain experienced by black players,  from members of the ground-breaking Colored Hockey League in the Canadian Maritimes from 1895 to 1925 to the stars skating on National Hockey League’s 31 teams.

Some familiar faces  – past and present – share their hockey stories: Philadelphia Flyers  All-Star forward Wayne Simmonds, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor DaleySan Jose Sharks forward Joel WardEdmonton Oilers goaltending great Grant FuhrBuffalo Sabres/Quebec Nordiques/New York Rangers sniper Tony McKegney, and former Sabres/Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Val James, the NHL’s first black player born in the United States.

Filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason (right) talks hockey with Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley in “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.”

Mason devoted nearly four years and spent about $200,000 of mostly his own money to make the film. It won a People’s Choice Award at the Edmonton International Film Festival  in October 2015.

The NHL was so impressed by “Soul on Ice’s” educational and uplifting message that it hosted the film’s U.S. premiere in Washington in January 2016 and aired it on the NHL Network in February 2016 to commemorate U.S. Black History Month.

Vancouver Canucks defensive prospect Jordan Subban, left, prepares parents Karl and Maria for their close-ups in “Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future.” Karl and Maria are also the parents of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban.

Charles Dacres, a director for the English Ice Hockey Association, and a board member for Ice Hockey UK, said Mason’s film is perfect viewing for the U.K.’s Black History Month.

“It’s about doing some myth-breaking. You look at other sports where black athletes are underrepresented, and it’s a struggle to try to encourage young black people to get into them,” Dacres told me recently. “The parents will say ‘Why are you bothering the kids.’ And the kid’s mates will say ‘Hockey’s not the sport for you, black guys don’t skate.’ It’s about showing that we have some pioneers and some very strong role models that actually give people and young children something to work toward and aspire to.”

Charles Dacres, left, a director for the English Ice Hockey Association, says showing “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future” in London will help shatter the myth that black people don’t participate in certain sports (Phtoto/Courtesy Charles Dacres).

The movie is also deeply personal for Dacres, who endured racial slurs in his younger days when he played with the Bradford Bulldogs.

“They just kind of said ‘Just get on with it, mate, just play the game and get on with it,'” Dacres recalled the reaction to the slurs. “Today, we don’t need to do that. We can challenge that poor negative behavior but we can do that by showing some positive role models.”

Although there are few hockey players of color in the United Kingdom, they have made their presence felt.

Hilton Ruggles was one of the most prolific scorers in British hockey history in a career that spanned from the late 1980s to the mid-2000s.

Hilton Ruggles, a Montreal-born left wing, tallied 1,096 goals, 929 assists and 2,200 penalty minutes in 946 games in the British Hockey League, British Ice Hockey Superleague, and the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League. Ruggles was inducted into the UK Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009.

Forward David Clarke is the popular face of the EIHL’s Nottingham Panthers.

He’s one of the United Kingdom’s most-decorated players, having won an EIHL championship, an International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Gold Medal in Division D1B in 2016-17, and scoring more goals than any other British-born player in the EIHL in 2006-07, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, and 2013-14.

Clarke, a member of Great Britain’s national team, has notched 289 goals and 238 assists in 553 EIHL games.

Nottingham Panthers forward David Clarke is also a mainstay for Great Britain’s national hockey team (Photo/Dean Woolley).

And several talented black NHL players have found their way across the pond to play. Rumun Ndur, a Nigerian-born defenseman, played for the Sabres and Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) before skating for the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze and Clarke’s Panthers in Nottingham.

Former Toronto Maple Leafs right wing John Craighead , an American, played for the Panthers from 2003 to 2005.  Anthony Stewart, a  Canadian right wing who played for the Thrashers, Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes, suited up for the Panthers in 2012-13 during the NHL’s player lockout that season.

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J.T. Brown, Tampa Bay Lightning, take stand against Confederate monument

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Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown was appalled by the violent images he saw from Charlottesville, Va., where neo-Nazis and white supremacists recently sought to march to ostensibly protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown.

“It was hard to watch,” Brown told The Tampa Bay Times.

And he was annoyed that the city where he plies his trade also has a Confederate memorial, one he hopes his recently-born daughter will never have to see as she grows older.

So Brown reached into his pockets and donated $1,500 as part of an effort to privately raise the $140,000 that county officials said would be required to remove the Confederate monument from Tampa’s downtown courthouse.  The $140,000 goal was achieved in one day.

The deadly clash in Charlottesville “could have been in Tampa, could be anywhere in the country where the statues are,” Brown told The Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.

“I was just thinking to myself, how was I going to explain to my daughter if she was old enough, how would I explain why someone doesn’t like her? Or why is this going on in the world today?” Brown told the Times. “For me that kind of re-motivated me to make sure I’m doing everything I can to make sure the community is a better place for her and everyone.”

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Brown’s team had his back. So did the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. The teams responded to a call from former Buccaneers Head Coach Tony Dungy to give so the Confederate statue could be moved.

Tampa’s major league sports teams issued a joint statement last Thursday that said “Now more than ever we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville.”

Brown told Smith that donating to the cause was a no-brainer because “I don’t think Confederacy is something that should be downtown in front of the courthouse.”

“You talk about dividing a community, that’s a very big symbol right there in the middle of the city,” said Brown, a Minnesota resident who had 3 goals and 3 assists in 64 regular season games for the Lightning last season.

Brown is among a small, but growing, group of professional athletes who aren’t afraid to weigh in on politically-sensitive issues.

He criticized Columbus Blue Jackets Head Coach Mike Tortorella last September when, as coach of the U.S. team in the World Cup of Hockey tournament, said he’s bench any player who conducted a protest during the playing of the national anthem as former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did last season to protest the treatment of minorities in the United States.

“Wouldn’t benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap’s point of oppression? But hey,” Brown wrote in a tweet that went viral.

Brown and the Lightning weren’t the only ones in the hockey world to respond to the events in Charlottesville. The Detroit Red Wings, dismayed and disgusted that some white nationalists were using the team’s iconic and trademarked winged wheel logo on shields, posters, and other items, threatened legal action.

“The Detroit Red Wings vehemently disagree with and are not associated in any way with the event taking place today in Charlottesville, Va.,” the team said in a statement “The Red Wings believe that hockey is for everyone, and we celebrate the great diversity of our fan base and our nation. We are exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”

The NHL expressed its displeasure, saying in a statement that  “We are obviously outraged by the irresponsible and improper use of our intellectual property as seen this weekend in Charlottesville, Va.”

“This specific use is directly contrary to the value of inclusiveness that our league prioritizes and champions,” the statement added. “We will take immediate and all necessary steps to insure the use is discontinued as promptly as possible and will vigorously pursue other remedies as appropriate.”

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It’s been an endless hockey summer for NHL prospects Yamamoto and Robertson

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Kailer Yamamoto and Jason Robertson have barely had time to take their skates off.

It’s been an endless hockey summer for the two high-scoring major junior forwards and other players chosen in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft in June.

Yamamoto, a right wing for the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, headed to Alberta, Canada, for the Edmonton Oilers development camp days after the team selected him in the first round with the 22nd overall pick in the draft.

A long hockey season for Edmonton Oilers 2017 first-round draft pick Kailer Yamamoto included playing in a prospects game last September (Photo/Len Redkoles/USA Hockey).

The 18-year-old Spokane native stayed in Oil Country afterwards for additional training on and off the ice on his own time.

“No days off,” Yamamoto told me recently.

Ditto for Roberston,  a left wing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs.  The Michigan resident shipped off to Texas for the Dallas Stars’ development camp after the team took him in the draft’s second round with the 39th overall pick.

“It’s been a pretty busy summer,” he said.

And it’s about to get busier beginning Friday, and both players couldn’t be happier. They will be among 42 American players invited to participate in the 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.

The showcase, which runs July 28-Aug. 5, is an audition for roster spots for Team USA for the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York, from Dec. 26, 2017 to Jan. 5 2018.

This edition of the World Juniors will have an exciting wrinkle – an outdoor game between the U.S. and Canada on Dec. 29 at 71,608-seat New Era Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.

“It would mean so much to me” to make the U.S. squad, Yamamoto told me. “Any time you can put on the crest of your country, it means the world.”

Yamamoto has represented the United States four times, playing in Under-17 tournaments in 2014-15, the Under-18 World Junior Championship in 2015-16, and the Ivan Hlinka Under-18 Memorial Cup tournament in 2015-16.

Kingston Frontenacs forward Jason Robertson, a 2017 Dallas Stars second-round draft pick, hopes to play for the U.S. at 2018 IIHF World Juniors (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Robertson, 18, has never played for the U.S. in an international tournament. He’s hoping that he does well enough at the showcase in Plymouth to punch his ticket to Buffalo.

“That would be super-exciting,” he told me. “It’s a great tournament. It would be a huge honor to play for the U.S.A., I hope I do. It’s up to me to perform the best I can in camp.”

That’s the mantra Robertson and Yamamoto followed during their development camps earlier this month.

After getting a long look at his game at camp, the Stars’ coaching staff acknowledged that Robertson is the skilled goal-scorer they thought he was when they drafted him, the player said.

Of course, his team-leading 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 OHL regular season games and 5 goals and 13 assists in 11 playoff games were pretty good clues before the Stars made the pick.

But the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Robertson did leave Texas with a message from the Stars: Get stronger.

Forward Jason Robertson will be wearing another prospects jersey as he participates in USA Hockey’s 2017 World Junior Summer Showcase (Photo/Len Redkoles/USA Hockey).

“The Number One thing I can improve on is my strength overall,” said Robertson, whose mother was born in the Philippines. “They even expressed that the skating is not a really big issue. They believe that developing more as a man off the ice and in the gym – and putting that time off ice into my strength – will really help my career.”

The Oilers also would like to see the 5-foot-8, 140-pound Yamamoto add some more muscle to his frame.

Yamamoto’s height and weight haven’t hurt in the WHL, where he was sixth in the league and tops on the Chiefs in scoring last season with 42 goals and 57 assists in 65 games.

But if he’s going to someday survive the rigors of an 82-game NHL season and the physical abuse from bigger defenders, it’s going to require a bit more meat on the bones.

“Get bigger, stronger, definitely put on the extra pounds,” said Yamamoto, whose grandfather lived in a U.S. Japanese internment camp during World War II. “They (Oilers) said ‘Keep working, we’re really looking forward to seeing you up in camp. Make sure you’re prepared and ready to go.'”

“Ready to go” means in September, just a few weeks after the World Junior showcase. Yamamoto will head back to Western Canada to report to Oilers training camp. Robertson will go to Traverse City, Michigan, for the 2017 NHL Prospect Tournament.

That event will feature up-and-coming young players from the Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Minnesota Wild, Columbus Blue Jackets and St. Louis Blues.

“Most people would be tired and need rest,” Robertson said of his hectic summer of hockey. “But I love it. I love having something to do, especially if it’s related to hockey.”

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Trevor Daley enjoys a low-key day with the Stanley Cup the second time around

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Trevor Daley didn’t want to go para-sailing, mountain-climbing or club hopping with the Stanley Cup.

Trevor Daley wanted low-key family time with the Stanley Cup the second time around.

Instead of going buck-wild with the Cup, as some players who win it do on their designated day with Lord Stanley, the former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman arranged a decidedly buck-mild 24 hours with the championship trophy.

“Not too crazy this year with it, try to stay a little bit more low-key than last year,” said Daley, who dashed around to show the Cup off to as many friends, family and well-wishers as possible in his hometown Toronto area after the Penguins won it in the 2015-16 season. “I was, like, ‘Man, I shared it with everybody else, I never got a chance to sit down and just stare at it’ and be, like, wow this is what you accomplished.’ My family, my kids never got a chance to sit down and hang out with it.”

Back-to-back Stanley Cup victories allowed Daley the opportunity to rectify that situation.

“My son’s birthday party just passed, but we told him that part of his birthday party  would be hanging out with the Cup with a couple of his buddies in Toronto,” the veteran defenseman told me.

Trevor Daley and his family spend some quality time with the Stanley Cup (Photo/Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame).

Daley still managed to make time for a couple of  public stops with the Cup Wednesday to show appreciation to the local folks who appreciate him. The kids at Toronto Professional Hockey School, a camp Daley attended as a minor hockey player, got a glimpse of the trophy many of the camp’s current attendees hope to some day hoist.

The Whitchurch- Stouville Fire and Emergency Services also got a visit from Daley and the Cup.

Unlike other major league sports, each player on a Stanley Cup-winning team gets to have the trophy for a day to do whatever. Phil Pritchard, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s white-gloved Keeper of the Cup, accompanies it on a summer-long journey.

The well-polished silver Cup and the gloved-one will travel thousands of miles through seven countries – the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Germany, and Switzerland – in 100 days for players, coaches, and key staff from 2016-17 Penguins to savor for a day.

The team’s 2015-16 Cup win has a special place in Daley’s heart. He was the first player Penguins captain Sidney Crosby handed the Cup to after the team defeated the San Jose Sharks, even though Daley missed the Stanley Cup Final because of a broken ankle.

Crosby knew that it was a dream of Daley’s ailing mother, Trudy, to see her son hoist the Cup. Trudy Daley passed away a week later at age 51.

“Last year was obviously tough – the timing of the injury,” he told me. “But it did allow me to spend some more time with my mom. If I was playing, I wouldn’t been allowed to spend that much time with her. Looking back, having won the Cup, it was kind of a blessing that I got to spend some time with her last year.”

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Daley, 33, said this year’s Cup is a little more special because he was able to play in the Final.

“Having gone through it twice now, back-to-back, I definitely felt more a part of it this year,” he told me. “Last year was very unfortunate, getting hurt and missing it. I remember after last year,  I always thought about getting back to this point, and I was fortunate to get back to it so soon. I always thought about playing in the Final to see what it was like on that stage.”

Daley will perform on a different stage in the 2017-18 season. A free agent, he signed a three-year, $9.53 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings in early July. He moves to a new team, a new town and will play in a brand new arena.

“I’m excited for the new challenge and new opportunity,” he told me. “I had never been through the process of free agency before and didn’t know what to expect. When Detroit came calling, I was pretty excited about – just the history of the franchise. They were one of the first teams to come to me and show interest in me.”

Daley stressed that he’s joining a team that’s retooling, not rebuilding. The Red Wings finished the 2016-17 season with a 33-36-13 record and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 25 years.

Red Wings management and fans don’t expect that to happen again. Neither does Daley.  He believes the Wings are “a team that wants to win, has a little chip on its shoulder, and is ready to make some noise next year.”

“I want to come in and be a guy who makes an impact right away, helps out in multiple areas” he told me. “I’m a guy that can add a little bit of offense and help push the pace a little bit – that’s what the league is about. I want to be able to bring all the right things that takes to help the team win each night and do it consistently.”

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound defenseman tallied 5 goals and 14 assists in 56 regular season games last season.  He had a goal and 4 assists in 21 playoff games.

The 14-season vet has 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 career regular season games with the Penguins, Dallas Stars and Chicago Blackhawks and 6 goals and 12 assists in 71 career playoff contests.

Daley is one of only seven black players to have their names inscribed on the Stanley Cup. The others are goaltender Grant Fuhr, Edmonton Oilers, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1990; goalie Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, Oilers, 1990; goalie Ray Emery, Blackhawks, 2013; defenseman Johnny Oduya, Blackhawks, 2013, 2015; right wing Jamal Mayers, Blackhawks, 2013; defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, Blackhawks, 2010.

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N.Y. Islanders are ready for Freddy, name Brathwaite as new goalie coach

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Brooklyn is ready for Freddy.

Fred Brathwaite is the New York Islanders’ new goalie coach (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)

The New York Islanders Monday named retired National Hockey League goaltender Fred Brathwaite as the team’s new goalie coach.

“He’s ready for this next step and we look forward to him working with our organization’s goalies,” Islanders Head Coach Doug Weight said.

Brathwaite, 44, was goalie coach for Hockey Canada’s Under-18 team for the last three seasons. Before that, he coached goalies for Canada’s Under-20 program and for Adler Mannheim in the German Professional League during the 2013-14 season.

His former Hockey Canada students include NHL draftees Carter Hart, a 2016 Philadelphia Flyers second-round draft pick, Zach Fucale, a 2013 Montreal Canadiens third-round selection, and Eric Comrie, taken in the second-round in 2013 by the Winnipeg Jets.

“Fred’s experiences at just about every level of hockey make him a tremendous addition to our hockey club,” Weight said. “Not only has he has a solid NHL career, but he’s also worked with some of the top net-minders coming out of Hockey Canada.”

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Brathwaite spent nine seasons in the NHL, occupying the net for the Edmonton Oilers, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames and Columbus Blue Jackets. He posted an NHL career record of 81 wins, 99 losses and 37 ties with a 2.73 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 254 regular seasons games. He had 15 shutouts.

The well-traveled goalie also played for the Syracuse Crunch and Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League, Ak Bars Kazan and Avangard Omsk of the Russian Superleague (now the Kontenental Hockey League) and Adler Mannheim of  Germany’s DEL. Brathwaite won Goaltender of the Year in the RSL in 2005-06 and Player of the Year in 2008-09 in the DEL with Adler.

He appeared in only one Stanley Cup Playoffs game, for the Blues in 2001-02, and was on the ice for only a minute. But Brathwaite did earn championship hardware during his North American playing days, winning a Memorial Cup with the Ontario Hockey League’s  Oshawa Generals in 1990 with a bruising young teammate named Eric Lindros.

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Getting the Islanders job fulfills Brathwaite’s goal of returning to the big leagues as a coach.

“I would love to be an NHL goalie coach,” he told the Color of Hockey in June 2015 “And having this opportunity with Hockey Canada is helping me prepare for that. And it’s really not that bad paying dues when you end up getting the best kids in the country to work with.”

Brathwaite becomes the third goalie coach of color working for an NHL team. Sudarshan Maharaj runs the goalies for the Anaheim Ducks and Frantz Jean coaches for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brathwaite replaces former NHL goalie Mike Dunham as the Isles’ netminder boss. The Brooklyn-based team ranked 23rd among the NHL’s 30 teams with a 2.90 goals-against average last season under Dunham.

Goalies Thomas Greiss, Jaroslav Halak, and Jean-Francois Berube surrendered 231 of the 238 goals that opposing teams scored in 2016-17.

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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 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, the 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 Trophy 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.”

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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.