Jeremiah Addison powers Windsor Spitfires to Memorial Cup final

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Forward Jeremiah Addison proved Wednesday why he shares the captaincy of the Windsor Spitfires.

 

Addison scored a hat trick – 3 goals – to lead the Spitfires past the Erie Otters 4-2 and to a spot in the Mastercard Memorial Cup final. The tournament, which Windsor is hosting, features the winners of the Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League championships.

The Montreal Canadiens selected Addison in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Ddraft with the 207th overall pick. He scored 24goals and 19 assists in 51 games for the Spitfires in 2016-17. He’s tallied 5 goals in five OHL playoff games and 5 Memorial Cup goals.

Jeremiah Addison of the Windsor Spitfires (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

Windsor now awaits the winner of a semifinal game between OHL Erie and the QMJHL Saint John Sea Dogs.

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Blake Bolden says goodbye to NWHL and Boston, and hello to Lugano, Switzerland

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For Blake Bolden, it’s a matter of curing a case of wanderlust and fulfilling the desire to keep on keeping on in hockey.

After two seasons with the Boston Pride, Blake Bolden will play in Switzerland in 2017-18 (Photo/NWHL).

The all-star defenseman began thinking last September that she wouldn’t return to the Boston Pride of the National Women’s National Hockey League after two seasons and she started to look for a new team – and a new country – to showcase her skills.

“I was on the women’s hockey profile website that lets you know all the professional teams and where they are,” Bolden told me recently. “I see Lugano, and I Googled it, and I just told myself ‘I’m going there.'”

Bolden, 26, recently signed on to play for the HC Lugano women’s team in Switzerland. Located in southern Switzerland’s Italian-speaking Ticino region, Lugano is the country’s ninth-largest city and is about a 50-mile drive from Milan, Italy.

“I am extremely excited just for a new change, just to be in a different environment,” said Bolden, who’s already started to learn Italian. “I think it will be fun. It will be scary, it will put me out of my comfort zone. So that’s why I wanted to do it: just to get another box checked before I get too old, which isn’t coming anytime soon.”

Former Boston Pride defenseman Blake Bolden says the time is right for her to experience playing hockey overseas (Photo/Meg Linehan courtesy Blake Bolden).

Time and timing were the biggest factors in packing up and heading to Lugano. After four years as a hockey standout at Boston College , two seasons with the Boston Blades of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League after being the first African-American selected in the first round of that league’s draft, and two season’s with the Pride, she feels it’s time to leave Boston.

She admits that the decision to go was made easier when she didn’t receive an invite from USA Hockey to try out for the women’s team that will compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea.

“I  had been in the CWHL for two years, I’ve been in the NWHL for two years, and I’ve been in Boston for seven so I wanted to do something else and I didn’t get an invite to the Olympic tryouts, so I figured ‘Why not?'” she told me.

Bolden said she didn’t expect to get an invite because she wasn’t invited to prior pre-Olympics camps, even though “people were saying that I was getting looked at” by USA Hockey.

A Boston Globe article in April questioned why Bolden didn’t appear to be under serious Olympics consideration by USA Hockey.

A Stow, Ohio, native, Bolden tallied 2 goals and 13 assists in 35 NWHL games over two seasons. She had 8 goals and 24 assists in 45 games over her CWHL career and 26 goals and 56 assists in 139 NCAA Division I women’s hockey games.

“It’s hard to say why they haven’t given her an opportunity,” Boston College hockey  Coach Katie King Crowley told the newspaper. “Blake is awesome in every way. I would always want her on my team if I’m the coach.”

“Yeah, it is frustrating and it’s a big pill to swallow and it seems to come up in almost every conversation I that have with a reporter,” Bolden said to me about the lack of an Olympics look-see. “It’s fine. It’s just something I have to deal with. I can choose to be upset about it or I can choose to take the lemonade that I’m making from the lemons that I have right now, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m happy and I think everything happens for a reason, and I’m on a different path. I really have no regrets or wish that things turned out differently. At first, as a younger adult, it was troublesome for my family, and closest friends, and myself. But it’s okay now. It’s all good.”

 

Bolden said moving to Lugano will help fulfill her deep desire to compete internationally. She’s only done that twice, playing for the United States at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Women’s Under-18 Championships in 2008 in Canada and 2009 in Germany.

Bolden said the state of the NWHL’s finances didn’t play a factor in her decision to go overseas. The NWHL, which completed its second season, is the first North American women’s league to offer players a salary, ranging from $10,000 to $26,000.

But league officials informed players in November that their pay would be cut because of money troubles. An anticipated 50 percent pay cut was averted by a $50,000 contribution by Dunkin’ Donuts.

Bolden said she’ll receive about $3,500 a month playing for Lugano during the 2017-18 season. In addition, the team supplies lodging, health insurance, and access to a vehicle.

“It’s not like I’m making a crazy amount of money in Lugano,” she told me. “My pedigree, I have some great accomplishments as far as firsts, especially being an African–American in these leagues. I just want to keep experiencing new opportunities. So that’s another box that I’m excited to check off. Maybe I’ll go out there for one season and return to the NWHL, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m taking it one season at a time at this moment.”

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Players of color power their teams to Mastercard Memorial Cup tournament

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The 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup begins Friday and players of color are poised to play starring roles at the major junior hockey championship.

The Saint John Sea Dogs, champs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey LeagueSeattle Thunderbirds, winners of the Western Hockey League crown, Erie Otters, kings of the Ontario Hockey League, and the Windsor Spitfires, the tournament’s host, vie for the coveted Cup.

Saint John Sea Dogs forward Mathieu Joseph was second on his team in scoring in 2016-17 (Photo/David Connell/Saint John Sea Dogs).

The offensively-potent Sea Dogs are powered by right wing Mathieu Joseph and left wing Bokondji Imama.

Joseph, 20, a 2015 Tampa Bay Lightning fourth-round draft pick and a member of the Silver Medal-winning 2017 Canadian World Juniors team, was the Sea Dogs second-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 36 goals and 44 assists in 54 games.

Saint John Sea Dogs’ Bokondji Imama showed he’s more than a fighter by scoring 41 goals in 2016-17 (Photo/David Connell/Saint John Sea Dogs).

Imama, a Tampa Bay sixth-round selection in 2015, accepted the Lightning organization’s challenge to prove that he’s more than the feared fighter that he’s been throughout his QMJHL career.

The 20-year old showed that his shot is as hard as his fists by being the Sea Dogs’ fourth-leading scorer with 41 goals and 14 assists, all while accumulating 105 penalty minutes in 66 games.

Seattle Thunderbirds defenseman Ethan Bear was a scoring threat from the blue line in 2016-17 (Photo/Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds).

The Thunderbirds also reached the Memorial Cup tournament because of their impressive offense – from the blue line by defenseman Ethan Bear and up front by right wing Keegan Kolesar.

This was the view a lot of Western Hockey League goaltenders got of Seattle Thunderbirds forward Keegan Kolesar during the regular season (Photo/Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds).

Bear, 19, who is Ochapowace First Nation, was the definition of an offensive defenseman. He  finished third on the Thunderbirds in scoring with 28 goals and 42 assists in 67 regular season games. The Edmonton Oilers 2015 fifth-round draft pick also tallied 6 goals and 20 assists in 17 WHL playoff games.

Kolesar, 20, a third-round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015, was the Thunderbirds fourth-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 26 goals and 34 assists in 54 games. He had 12 goals and 19 assists in 19 WHL playoff contests.

Jeremiah Addison of the Windsor Spitfires. (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

When it comes to leadership on the Windsor Spitfires, there’s “Addy” and “Chatty.” Left wing Jeremiah Addison, 20, and defenseman Jalen Chatfield are such integral parts of their team that they both were voted captain toward the end of the regular season and alternated wearing the “C’ on their jerseys every other game.

“Our players selected these guys equally. They’re two great people,” Spitfires Head Coach Rocky Thompson said in March. “They are both deserving and both represent what it takes to be a leader.”

Windsor Spitfires defenseman Jalen Chatfield provided offensive pop from the blue line (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Addison was the team’s third-leading scorer with 24 goals and 19 assists in 51 games. Addison, a seventh-round draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens in 2015, pitched in 5 goals in five OHL playoff games.

Though not as prolific as Seattle’s Bear, defenseman Chatfield, 21, provided some offensive pop from the Windsor blue line. He had 8 goals and 20 assists in 61 regular season games and 2 assists in seven playoff games.

The Vancouver Canucks were impressed enough with Chatfield’s game to sign him to a three-year entry level contract in March.

Windsor’s Cole Purboo, left, is ranked as the 189th-best North American skater eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Windsor right wing Cole Purboo contributed 11 goals and 6 assists in 68 regular season games. The National Hockey League’s Central Scouting ranks Purboo, 17, as the 189th-best North American prospect eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft June 23-24 at Chicago’s United Center.

There are no minority players on the Erie Otters roster.

The 2017 Mastercard Memorial Cup games will be televised live in Canada on Rogers Sportsnet and on tape delay on the NHL Network in the United States. However, the network will carry the championship game live on Sunday, May 28.

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‘Soul on Ice’ star Jaden Lindo seeking to rewrite script toward NHL career

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Jaden Lindo loves a happy ending to a movie as much as anyone.

Lindo thought he provided one as a leading man in filmmaker Damon Kwame Mason’s excellent black hockey history documentary “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future.”

Mason’s camera followed Lindo, then a forward for the Ontario Hockey League’s Owen Sound Attack, through the high of awaiting the 2014 National Hockey League Draft and the low of suffering a severe season-ending knee injury that jeopardized his draft prospects.

Jaden Lindo scored 21 goals for the Sarnia Sting in 2016-17 (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

The dramatic arc in the film ends with the Pittsburgh Penguins taking the injured Lindo in the sixth round with the 173rd overall pick in the draft. Happily ever-after, right?  Well, not yet.

“It didn’t work out the way I hoped with Pittsburgh, but there are different routes to getting to there (to the NHL),” Lindo told me in a recent telephone conversation from Accra, Ghana, where he and his family were vacationing. “There’s still a lot more for me to achieve and I still have a lot of potential that I still haven’t reached.  I’m completely optimistic.”

Pittsburgh signed Lindo to an amateur tryout agreement in 2015, and he even saw some exhibition game time with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

But things didn’t work out with the Pens. Lindo returned to Owen Sound where the 6-foot-2, 214-pound right wing had 14 goals and 16 assists in the 2015-16 season.

He was traded to the Sarnia Sting for the 2016-17 season and tallied 21 goals and 14 assists in 58 games as a 21-year-old in his final year of OHL eligibility.

Lindo says his script to the NHL isn’t finished. He’s committed to play Canadian college hockey at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario this fall.  The team, which posted a 24-14-0 record last season, is stocked with former major junior players.

Other former major junior players have taken the Canadian college route and landed in the NHL, most notably San Jose Sharks right wing Joel Ward, who skated for the University of Prince Edward Island after his Owen Sound career ended.

Like Ward, Lindo is a rugged power forward. But Lindo models his game after another Owen Sound alum, Philadelphia Flyers right wing Wayne Simmonds. Lindo even lived in the same billet residence that Simmonds did during his major junior days.

His season for Sarnia completed – he had 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 OHL playoff games for the Sting – Lindo played two exhibition games last week for the Jamaican national hockey team effort in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His family is of Jamaican descent.

His play in the exhibition games caught the eye of Bill Riley, a Nova Scotia resident who became the NHL’s third black player when he joined the Washington Capitals in 1976.

“He has all the tools,” Riley told me. “I had a real good chat with him after the game. I said to him, ‘Look, you have everything it takes to be a pro.’ I told him it’s 90 percent mental, 10 percent physical. I said ‘if you’ve got the right mindset, don’t take no for an answer.”

Lindo appreciated the advice from Riley, who served as a Junior A hockey general manager and a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League head coach.

“He’s someone to reach out to and talk about hockey,” Lindo told me. “He knows the game, he’s been a pro, he knows what it takes. If I ever need that support, I have the ability to reach out and talk to him.”

For those who haven’t seen “Soul on Ice, Past, Present and Future,” the award-winning documentary by Damon Kwame Mason, catch it via iTunes, Amazon Video,  Google Play, Vudu, Microsoft Movies & TV,  or Sony PlayStation. It’s also available on Starz in the United States.

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Asia rising in hockey ahead of Winter Olympics in South Korea and China

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Asia rising?

In ice hockey, it sure seems like it.

South Korea Assistant Hockey Coach Richard Park (Photo/Minnesota Wild/Bruce Kluckhohn).

From the winning exploits of  teams from the continent in recent international tournaments to players of Asian heritage poised to be picked in the 2017 National Hockey League Draft, to skaters of Chinese and Malaysian descent who were selected in previous drafts, hockey appears to be gaining ground in Asian nations and Asian communities in North America.

The interest could grow even more once pucks are dropped at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, and  the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing, China.

“I think it’s a testament to the growth of the game,” Richard Park, a retired NHL forward and an assistant coach for the South Korean national team that will compete in the 2018 Winter Games, told me recently. “I think it’s very welcoming,  I think it’s very refreshing. I think it’s a testament again to all these cultures that the game is reaching.”

Park, who’s also a development coach for the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, and retired NHL defenseman Jim Paek, the South Korean men’s national team’s head coach, are helping guide the country of their ancestry up the world hockey ladder.

They coached South Korea to a dramatic 2-1 shootout win against Ukraine in April, earning a second-place finish at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship Division I Group A tournament in Kiev.

The victory bumped South Korea up to the IIHF’s top division next year, joining the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and other hockey powers.

“Korea has never ever been close, let alone in the top division in the world of hockey,” said Park, who played 738 NHL games for the Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders. “It’s huge. It’s big, it’s never been done before. But in saying that, what it leads to in the future is kind of up to not only the media, but the young kids, and the really young next generation in Korea.”

In North America, a next generation of players of Asian descent is already making its presence known. Just take a glimpse at NHL Central Scouting’s player rankings for the June 23-24 draft at Chicago’s United Center.

Owen Sound Attack center Nick Suzuki is ranked as the 10th-best North American skater. 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.

Owen Sound Attack forward Nick Suzuki hopes he’ll be chosen in the 2017 NHL Draft in June (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

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.

Kailer Yamamoto is hoping to hear his named called at next month’s NHL draft.  The 5-foot-8 right wing for the Western Hockey League’s Spokane Chiefs is ranked as the 17th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.

Spokane Chiefs’ Kailer Yamamoto is the 17th-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting (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.

USA hockey National Team Development Program defenseman Tyler Inamoto (Photo/Rena Laverty/USA Hockey).

Whether he’s drafted or not, defenseman Tyler Inamoto knows where he’s headed this fall. The 6-foot-2 blue-liner for the USA Hockey National Development Team, ranked the 68th-best North American skater, will be skating for the University of Wisconsin Badgers in 2017-18.

“He’s big, strong and has a mean streak,” said Badgers Head Coach Tony Granato, who enjoyed a long and prolific NHL career, “He’ll be a physical impact player right away next year.”

If drafted, Inamoto, Yamamoto and Suzuki, hope to join a small but growing list of players of Asian heritage who are on NHL career paths.

Center Cliff Pu, Buffalo Sabres’ third-round draft pick in 2016.

Last year, the Buffalo Sabres took London Knights forward Cliff Pu in the third round with the 69th overall pick in the NHL Draft. Pu led the Knights in scoring in 2016-17 with 35 goals and 51 assists in 63 regular season games.

The Florida Panthers chose Peterborough Petes forward Jonathan Ang in the fourth round with the 94th overall pick of the 2016 draft.

Ang, the first player of Malaysian heritage to be drafted by an NHL team, was the Petes’ third-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 27 goals and 32 assists in 69 games.

Andong Song also made history when the New York Islanders selected the Beijing-born defenseman in the sixth round with the 172nd pick of the 2015 draft.

Song, who has committed to play hockey for Cornell University in 2018-19, will likely be a key member of China’s hockey team for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which will be held in Beijing.

George Chiang’s voice fills with pride and hope when he talks about players like Pu and

Forward Jonathan Ang, the Florida Panthers’ 4th-round pick in, 2016.

Ang.

“Cliff Pu has good size and plays for the London Knights, which is great,” Chiang told me recently. “Jonathan Ang just seems to become a better player every year in the Ontario Hockey League. It’s kind of cool seeing those guys.

Chiang is a Canadian hockey dad. His 14-year-old son, Lee Chiang,  played for Lac St. Louis Lions Nord bantam AAA team in Quebec last season and will likely be selected by an OHL team in the league’s priority draft next year.

The elder Chiang dreamed of pursuing a pro career when he was younger. But that dream was stymied by his parents, immigrants to Canada from Taiwan, who initially forbade him from playing hockey.

Lee Chiang playing for the North York Rangers in 2015.

” I came from immigrant parents and they didn’t understand hockey. I begged every year since I was five,” Chiang, 47, told me recently.  “They put me in baseball because they understood baseball. It’s the national sport of Taiwan. Finally, when I was 12 they let me play on a (hockey) team.”

Unlike his folks, Chiang didn’t hesitate in allowing his son to lace up the skates and grab a stick.

“My plan was to also put him in baseball, but he ended up hating baseball and he loved hockey,” George Chiang told me. “He’s a hockey player.”

 

 

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Flyers’ Pierre Edouard Bellemare scores by passing on award at IIHF tournament

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The phrase “consummate team player” is an often over-used piece of sports-writing jargon, but every now and then you see the meaning behind the words.

Philadelphia Flyers LW Pierre Edouard Bellemare

Case in point: Philadelphia Flyers left wing  Pierre Edouard Bellemare. A native of France, Bellemare is basking in Paris co-hosting the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship with Cologne, Germany.

Bellemare is a fourth-line player in the National Hockey League but he a top line forward for France.

After France upset Finland 5-1 in Paris Sunday, officials decided to name Bellemare the best player of the game for the French team.

Bellemare, who had a goal in the game, disagreed.

He passed on the honor and persuaded officials to give it French goaltender Florian Hardy, to the delight of the 11,433 spectators inside Paris’ AccorHotels Arena. Hardy had 42 saves in the game.

France, ranked 14th in the world, had previously lost eight straight to the 3rd-ranked Finns, dating back to 1993.

Sunday’s win was the latest in what’s been an excellent 2016-17 hockey season for Bellemare that began with his standout play as the only French skater on Team Europe in the World Cup of Hockey.

The Flyers failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the team rewarded the 32-year-old Bellemare for his play during the National Hockey League season by re-signing him to a two-year deal at $1.45 million per year.

The team also made him an assistant captain, an honor he shares with high-scoring right wing Wayne Simmonds.

And Sunday’s gesture in Paris shows why.

NBC’s Mike Milbury calls Predators’ P.K. Subban a ‘clown’ for warm-up dance

New hockey rule: If you want to get into the groove before a serious game, don’t dance.

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

That, apparently, is the hockey gospel according to NBC hockey analyst Mike Milbury.

Milbury took umbrage Friday night to Nashville Predators D-man P.K. Subban dancing during warm-ups before the Preds’ Stanley Cup Playoffs game against the St. Louis Blues.

He called Subban a clown.

“I know it’s a new day and age and everybody wants to be on Instagram or Twitter,” Milbury said on a pre-game show before the Predators-Blues tilt. “But you’ve got to keep focus. This is a tough game. When I see this I start to think maybe (Predators Head Coach) Peter Laviolette ought to give him a rap on the head and say, ‘Hey, P.K., focus in, we’ve got a game tonight and you don’t have to be a clown out there.'”

Milbury,  the astute hockey mind who, as general manager of the New York Islanders, traded away goalie Roberto Loungo,  defenseman Zdeno Chara, signed All-World bust Alexei Yashin to a $90 million contract and took goalie Rick DiPietro with the first overall pick in the 2000 NHL Draft, added that Subban has “been a clown in the past and we’ve seen him act like a clown but when he’s serious and focused he’s one hell of a player.”

So, Mike, a brother can’t do a little dance in warm-up? I wonder what Jeremy Roenick, your fellow NBC hockey analyst might have said if he was sitting next to you Friday night instead of Keith Jones?

And it’s not like Subban was dancing  during a game, like former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Andre Dupont did in the game that clinched the Stanley Cup for the orange and black against the Boston Bruins in 1974. Few people complained about “The Dupont Shuffle.”

Former NHL forward Alex Kovalev was known to break out into a moonwalk before, during, and after games.

Needless to say, Milbury’s rant didn’t go down too well on social media.

Yo, Mike, how’s this for busting a move on ice?

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‘How You Like Me Now?’ P.K. Subban plays on while Montreal is out of playoffs

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Let us turn to the hockey sage Kool Moe Dee for the right words while discussing Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban,  the Montreal Canadiens, and the Habs’ first-round exit from the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban.

A song by Dee – or is it Mr. Moe Dee? –  probably best sums up how Subban must have felt after watching the Canadiens – his former employer – burp up a two-game-to-one series lead and suffer a 3-1 loss to the New York Rangers Saturday that ousted the Habs from the playoffs:

“How You Like Me Now?”

Last summer, Subban was the poster boy for Montreal’s dysfunction – the Habs’ failure to make the playoffs (seeming to forget that All-World goaltender Carey Price only appeared in 12 games in 2015-16 season due to injury), rumored unrest in the locker room, and the inability of the coach to execute his master plan to lead the Canadiens to the Stanley Cup.

Subban was deemed by the Canadiens’ organ-i-zation to be too flamboyant, too selfish, too headstrong, too irresponsible defensively to be trusted.

So they shipped him to Nashville in June for defenseman Shea Weber in a move that then-Head Coach Michel Therrien proclaimed made the Canadiens “a better team now.”

So how’d it work out?  The Habs fired Therrien in February after the team faded following a 13-1-1 start to the 2016-17 season. Montreal finished atop the National Hockey League’s  Atlantic Conference with a 47-26-9 record and Cup expectations were high, particularly after the trade and Therrien’s dismissal. Then came the Rangers.

 

As for the trade participants, Weber had a good year in Montreal, scoring 17 goals and 25 assists in 78 games. Subban had an injury-plagued regular season that limited him to 10 goals and 30 assists in 66 games. Subban played 12 fewer games than Weber but scored 40 points to Weber’s 42.

But the bottom line stat for most fans is that Subban and the Predators are still in the playoffs. Weber and the Canadiens aren’t after making what was sold as a “win now” trade.

While Montreal players head to the golf course, Subban and the Predators face the St. Louis Blues in Round Two of the playoffs.

Nashville’s four-game sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks was so defensively dominant that Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne tallied as many points – 2 – as All-Star snipers Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews , who were the Chicago’s top scorers in the series.

Revenge is as sweet as the ice tea served cold south of the Mason-Dixon line, and Subban fans are basking in Montreal’s playoff misfortune. Cue Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing.”

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Springtime means hockey is in full bloom

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For a winter sport, ice hockey is pretty darn busy in the spring.

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing; the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 World Championship is underway in Slovakia; the IIHF’s World Championship kicks off in Paris and Cologne, Germany, May 5; USA Hockey begins evaluating players for the 2018 Winter Olympics women’s hockey team; and National Hockey League teams are making their lists and checking them twice ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft in Chicago in June.

Auston Matthews leads the Maple Leafs to the playoffs in his rookie year.

And players of color are in the thick of all these events. Of the 16 teams in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, all but four –  the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks – have minority players.

And two of those teams have minority coaches. Sudarshan Maharaj,  a Trinidadian raised in Toronto, is the goaltender coach for the Ducks and Paul Jerrard is an assistant coach for the Flames.

So who is playing in what series? Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs: forward T.J. Oshie for Washington. Forwards Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri for the Leafs.

Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers: forward Mika Zibanejad for the Rangers. Goalies Carey Price and Al Montoya and forward Andreas Martinsen for Montreal.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: defenseman Trevor Daley for the Penguins. Defenseman Seth Jones and forward Brandon Saad for the Blue Jackets.

Chicago Blackhawks vs. Nashville Predators: Defenseman Johnny Oduya for Chicago. Defenseman P.K. Subban skates for the Preds.

St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild: Forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Matt Dumba for the Wild. Forward Ryan Reaves for St. Louis.

Edmonton Oilers vs. San Jose Sharks: Defenseman Darnell Nurse and forward Juhjar Khaira for Edmonton. Forward Joel Ward for the Sharks.

While NHLers battle for the Stanley Cup, teenagers from 10 North American and European nations are fighting for international bragging rights at the IIHF U18 World Championship.

Akil Thomas, a rookie forward with the Niagara Ice Dogs, is playing for Canada. The son of a Canadian career minor league hockey player and a mother from suburban Washington, D.C., Thomas had 21 goals and 27 assists in 61 games for the Ontario Hockey League team.

Forward Akil Thomas joined Team Canada for the IIHF U18 World Championship after his strong rookie season with the OHL’s Niagara Ice Dogs (Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).

He’s joined on Team Canada’s by another major junior rookie, defenseman Jett Woo of the Western Hockey League’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Woo collected 5 goals and 17 assists in 65 games with the Warriors.

Moose Jaw Warriors defenseman Jett Woo has been making waves at the IIHF U18 World championship with his solid play (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).

Team USA’s Tyler Inamoto (Photo/Len Redkoles).

Tyler Inamoto, a defenseman for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program is patrolling the blue line for Team USA in Slovakia.

The 6-foot-2 NHL draft-eligible defenseman skates for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program and is ranked as the 68th-best North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting.

Inamoto tallied 2 goals and 9 assists in 42 games for the U.S.’s Under-18 team in 2016-17. He had 2 goals and 5 assists in 17 games for Team USA in the United States Hockey League.

If Inamoto is drafted, the NHL will have to wait. He’s committed to play hockey in the fall for the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

“Inamoto is a predator,” Badgers Head Coach Tony Granato said in November. “He is a physical, hungry, intimidating player. He is a great athlete. He’s big, strong, and has a mean streak…He’ll be a physical impact player right away next year. He’s strong enough already to play a physical game at the college level.”

USA defenseman Tyler Inamoto is ranked as the 68th best draft-eligible North American skater by NHL Central Scouting (Photo/Len Redkoles).

While the Under-18 championship is going on, 16 countries are finalizing their rosters for next month’s IIHF World Championship, a tourney that will feature some NHL players whose teams didn’t make the Stanley Cup Playoffs or were eliminated in the early rounds.

Team Canada quickly snapped up forward Wayne Simmonds, who led the Philadelphia Flyers‘ in goals with 31 in 82 games.

Team USA named Boston University massive forward Jordan Greenway  to its squad. Greenway, a 2015 Wild second-round draft choice, was a 6-foot-5, 230-pound force in January, powering the U.S. to a Gold Medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship in Toronto and Montreal.

Greenway scored three goals and five assists in seven games for the U.S. and was the team’s second-leading scorer. Two of his three goals were game-winners. He was BU’s fifth-leading scorer in 2016-17 with 10 goals and 21 assists in 37 games for the Terriers.

Despite his impressive season, Greenway has elected to return to BU for his junior year instead of trying to make the leap to the NHL.

“I have a great time here with my teammates, and BU has just been great to me,” Greenway told Boston Hockey Blog’s Jonathan Sigal. “I want to win a couple more championships here, so definitely one more year is what I’m going to do.”

I haven’t seen co-host country France’s roster yet for the Worlds, but you can bet that it will include Flyers forward Pierre Edouard Bellemare, who has become one of the best French-born players to skate in the NHL.

Pierre Edouard Bellemare is pumped about World Championship being in his home country, France.

A late bloomer, the 32-year-old defensive specialist tallied 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 games. The Flyers liked Bellemare’s grit and grace enough that they re-signed him for two years at $1.45 million per year and added him to the team’s leadership, making him an assistant team captain.

He’s as pumped about the prospect of playing in his home country during the World Championship as he was getting the new contract and the ‘A’ from the Flyers. France, whose men’s team is ranked 14th in the world, opens the tournament May 6 against Norway in Paris.

“I think it’s going to be incredible,” Bellemare, a member of the French national team since 2004, told IIHF’s Lucas Akryod. “It is the first Worlds in France. I hope we will get a lot of fans for all the games, and that hockey will continue to develop in France.

And let’s not forget women’s international hockey. USA Hockey recently invited 42 players – including all 23 members of the 2017 Gold Medal-winning world championship team – for a selection camp April 30 to May 4 in suburban Tampa, Florida.

Kelsey Koelzer (Photo/Nancie Battaglia)

The camp is a prelude to developing  a final U.S. a roster for the 2018 Winter Games in PyeyongChang, South Korea.

Kelsey Koelzer, a senior defenseman for Princeton University and the 2016 first overall pick of the

National Women’s Hockey League (by the New York Riveters), is a selection camp invitee. She tallied 8 goals and 23 assists in 33 games for the Tigers.

Hockey’s busy spring rolls into summer when the brain trusts from the NHL’s 30 teams convene inside Chicago’s United Center for the draft June 23-24.

The NHL’s Central Scouting released its final player rankings earlier this month and there are several players of color to watch in addition to Inamoto.

There’s Nick Suzuki, a 5-foot-10 center for the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. Central Scouting ranks the London, Ontario, Canada native as the 10th-best North American skater. He was the Attack’s second-leading scorer with 45 goals and 51 assists in 65 games.

Owen Sound’s Nick Suzuki is ranked as the 10th-best North American skater eligible for the 2017 NHL Draft (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

Then there’s Jason Robertson, a 6-foot-2 left wing for the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. Central Scouting ranks the Michigan native as the 14th-best North American skater. He led the Frontenacs in scoring in 2016-17 with 42 goals and 39 assists in 68 games.

Kingston Frontenacs left wing Jason Robertson jumped from 34th in NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings to 14th in its final listing before June’s NHL Draft (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a defenseman for the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He’s ranked as the 27th-best North American skater by Central Scouting.

The 6-foot-2, 161-pound 18-year-old notched 6 goals and 33 assists in 62 games for the Charlottetown.

Joseph is the younger brother of forward Mathieu Joseph,  a  sniper for the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning. He signed an entry level contract with the ‘Bolts prior to playing for Canada in the 2017 World Juniors.

Another potential 2017 draftee is Cole Purboo, a forward for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League. He’s ranked as the 189th-best North American skater. The 6-foot-3 Oakville, Ontario, Canada native scored 11 goals and 6 assists in 68 games for the Spitfires.

“I was hoping (to be) a little higher, but it’s alright,” Purboo told The Windsor Star last week of his Central Scouting rank. “It’s just people making a list…The same thing happened with the OHL draft. I don’t pay too much attention to them.”

 

Cole Purboo of the Windsor Spitfires (Photo/Aaron Bell/OHL Images).

Standing on the outside of top North American skaters on Central Scouting’s list is Elijah Roberts, a defenseman for the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.

Elijah Roberts of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers (Photo/Terry Wilson/OHL Images).

The 5-foot-8, 159-pound blue-liner, slipped from  208th in Central Scouting’s midterm list. He scored 4 goals and 14 assists in 65 games with the Rangers in 2016-17.

He’s considered undersized by today’s NHL standards, but his height hasn’t stopped him from excelling on ice. He was a major contributor for Team Canada in the World Under-17 hockey challenge.

“He’s a fast skater, very mobile, very aggressive on the ice,” one scout told Canada’s Sportsnet. “He’s been aggressive at the OHL level, too. He’s just a good kid; he skates hard and he works hard.”

Some NHL teams have drafted small D-men. The Vancouver Canucks took Jordan Subban, P.K. Subban’s 5-foot-9 younger brother, in the fourth round in 2013.

The diminutive defenseman was the sixth-leading scorer for the Utica Comets, the Canucks’ American Hockey League farm team, in 2016-17 with 16 goals and 20 assists in 64 games.

 

Black players on NHL teams? The list is long

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A reader recently asked me if the New York Islanders had any other black players skate for them besides forward Josh Ho-Sang, a late-season call-up from the minor leagues, and former goaltender-turned-broadcaster Kevin Weekes.

The quick answer is yes: forward Kyle Okposo, who was taken by the Isles with the seventh overall pick in the 2006 National Hockey League Draft, played for the team until he joined the Buffalo Sabres for the 2016-17 season.

Christopher Gibson, a black goaltender from Finland, who appeared in four games last season, and three other players also had stints on Long Island  over the years.

The reader’s question made me realize that a lot of hockey fans,  especially newer ones, may not know that their favorite teams have had several black players on their rosters over the decades.

Every NHL team has had at least two black or biracial players on their rosters. The Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers, and New York Rangers have had 12 black players don their jerseys.

Few folks remember that  about 25 percent of 2010-11 roster of the Atlanta Thrashers – now the Winnipeg Jets – was black: Forwards Evander Kane, Anthony Stewart and Nigel Dawes and defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Johnny Oduya.

 

Many of the players hail from traditional hockey areas like Toronto  or St. Paul, Minnesota.  But they also were born in non-traditional hockey places like Zaria, Nigeria,  Kingston, Jamaica,  Port-au-Prince, Haiti,  and Los Angeles, California.

The players run the gamut from those who’ve enjoyed long and Hockey Hall of Fame-worthy careers like Los Angeles Kings forward Jarome Iginla, and retired Oilers goaltending great Grant Fuhr to pugilists like forwards Val James and Donald Brashear to relative newbies like Ho-Sang.

Here’s a list of NHL teams and black players. Abbreviations: C=center, D=defense, G=goaltender, LW=left wing, RW=right wing.

ANAHEIM DUCKS: Emerson Etem, RW; Devante Smith-Pelley, RW; Chris Stewart, RW; Ray Emery, G.

ARIZONA COYOTES/WINNIPEG JETS: Anthony Duclair, LW; Paul Bissonnette, LW; Jason Doig, D; Nigel Dawes, LW; Steven Fletcher, LW; Georges Laraque,  RW; Craig Martin, RW; Kenndal McArdle, LW; Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, G; Bill Riley, RW.

BOSTON BRUINS: Jarome Iginla,  Willie O’Ree, LW;  Graeme Townshend, RW; Malcolm Subban, G; Darren Banks,  LW; Anson Carter, RW; Ray Neufeld, RW; Nathan Robinson, C; Sean Brown, D;  Sandy McCarthy, RW.

BUFFALO SABRES: Val James, LW; Tony McKegney, LW; Evander Kane, LW; Mike Grier, RW; Justin Bailey, RW; Nick Baptiste, RW; Grant Fuhr, G;  Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, D; Rumun Ndur, D; Sean McMorrow, LW; Kyle Okposo, RW; Chris Stewart, RW.

CALGARY FLAMES: Akim Aliu, RW; Jarome Iginla, RW; Fred Brathwaite, G: Grant Fuhr, G; Nigel Dawes, LW; Olivier Kylington, D; Tyrone Garner, G.

 

CAROLINA HURRICANES/HARTFORD WHALERS: Sandy McCarthy, RW; Anson Carter, RW; Kevin Weekes, G, Ray Neufeld, RW; Derek Joslin, D; Anthony Stewart, RW.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS: Tony McKegney;  Dirk Graham, RW; Johnny Oduya, D; Dustin Byfuglien, D;  Ray Emery, G; Trevor Daley, D; Jamal Mayers, RW.

COLORADO AVALANCHE/QUEBEC NORDIQUES: Reggie Savage, C; Chris Stewart, RW; Jarome Iginla; Tony McKegney;  Greg Mauldin, C; Bernie Saunders, LW; Peter Worrell, LW; Shawn Belle, D; Andreas Martinsen, LW.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS: Fred Brathwaite, Anson Carter, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Seth Jones, D; Greg Mauldin.

DALLAS STARS/MINNESOTA NORTH STARS: Johnny Oduya, Chris Stewart, Trevor Daley, D; Gemel Smith, C; Maxime Fortunus, D.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Tony McKegney, Nathan Robinson,  Brian Johnson, RW.

EDMONTON OILERS:  Anson Carter,Grant Fuhr, Fred Brathwaite, Sean Brown, Mike Grier, Georges Laraque;  Joaquin Gage, G; Theo Peckham, D; Shawn Belle ; Mark Fraser D, Mike; Darnell Nurse, D; Eldon “Pokey” Reddick, G.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: Kevin Weekes, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick,  Peter Worrell, Anthony Stewart, Craig Martin, Kenndal McArdle, Eldon “Pokey” Reddick.

LOS ANGELES KINGS: Grant Fuhr, Jarome Iginla, Anson Carter  Mike Marson, LW; Wayne Simmonds, RW; Nathan LaFayette, C.

MINNESOTA WILD: Chris Stewart, Joel Ward, Shawn Belle; Robbie Earl, LW.

MONTREAL CANADIENS: Georges Laraque, Shawn Belle, Andreas Martinsen P.K Subban, D; Donald Brashear, D; Devante Smith-Pelly, RW;  Steven Fletcher, LW/D; Francis Bouillon, D; Nigel Dawes, LW.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: Seth Jones, Francis Bouillon, P.K. Subban; Joel Ward, RW.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS: Devante Smith-Pelly, Kevin Weekes, Sean Brown, Mark Fraser, Johnny Oduya; Bryce Salvador, D; Claude Vilgrain, RW.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: Josh Ho-Sang, Kyle Okposo, Kevin Weekes, Graeme Townshend, Christopher Gibson, Justin Johnson, Greg Mauldin.

NEW YORK RANGERS: Anthony Duclair, Sandy McCarthy, Nathan LaFayette Donald Brashear, Nigel Dawes, Anson Carter, Kevin Weekes, Andre Deveaux, Jason Doig, Emerson Etem, Tony McKegney,  Rumun Ndur.

Ottawa Senators: Ray Emery, Graeme Townshend.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: Wayne Simmonds, Ray Emery, Claude Vilgrain, Donald Brashear, Sandy McCarthy; Pierre Edouard-Bellemare, LW.

Left to right: Philadelphia Flyers forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Wayne Simmonds with Willie O’Ree and former Flyer goalie Ray Emery (Photo/Philadelphia Flyers).

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: Trevor Daley, Georges Laraque, Paul Bissonnette, Jarome Iginla, Darren Lowe, RW.

ST. LOUIS BLUES: Ryan Reaves, Grant Fuhr, Chris Stewart, Jamal Mayers, Fred Brathwaite, Nathan LaFayette, Tony McKegney, Bryce Salvador; Ryan Reaves, RW; Chris Beckford-Tseu, G.

SAN JOSE SHARKS: Joel Ward, Mike Grier, Derek Joslin, Jamal Mayers, Mike McHugh, LW;  Dale Craigwell, C.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING: J.T. Brown, Kevin Weekes, Mike Grier; RW; Gerald Coleman, G.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS: Mark Fraser, Grant Fuhr, Val James, Robbie Earl, John Craighead, RW;  Andre Deveaux, C.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Anson Carter, Donald Brashear, Nathan LaFayette, Emerson Etem, Derek Joslin, Claude Vilgrain, Kevin Weekes,  Jordan Subban, D; Darren Archibald,  RW.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS: Mike Marson, Bill Riley, Reggie Savage, Anson Carter, Donald Brashear, Jason Doig, Joel Ward.

WINNIPEG JETS/ATLANTA THRASHERS: Dustin Byfuglien, Evander Kane, Johnny Oduya, Rumun Ndur, Nigel Dawes, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Anthony Stewart.

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