Move over, “King Henrik,” there’s more hockey royalty at Madison Square Garden.
“The Duke” scores on Broadway.
New York Rangers rookie forward Anthony Duclair shared the limelight with goaltender “King” Henrik Lundvist Monday night, scoring his first National HockeyLeague goal. The tally tied the game on the way to a wild Rangers 5-4 comeback win against the Minnesota Wild at MSG.
Duclair, nicknamed “The Duke” by his teammates, used his speed off the right wing to create open space and fired a snap shot past Darcy Kuemper that knotted the game at 4. Duclair was awarded the third star of the game and the post-game Broadway Hat, a stylish fedora, by his teammates for his outstanding play.
[“That was probably the best moment of my hockey career,” he told MSG Networks after the game. “A lot of stuff is going through my mind there. Obviously a big goal, tied up at four. You know what? When I got back to the bench I was yelling to the boys ‘Let’s go, keep going. It was a big goal for myself and for the team as well.”
With Monday’s score, Duclair has one goal and four assists in seven NHL games. “The Duke” looks like a keeper.
Duclair, a third-round pick (80th overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft is proving to be a find for the Rangers. He scored 50 goals in a concussion-shortened 59-game season last season for the Quebec Remaparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. With the Rangers, Head Coach Alain Vigneault has played the 19-year-old from Pointe Claire, Quebec, on the team’s top line and on the power play.
“The Duke” said the puck he scored with is probably heading to his parent’s home in Canada. “I couldn’t do without them,” he said. “My dad’s going to be pretty pumped and my mom’s probably crying right now.”
The Florida Panthers, last in attendance among National Hockey League teams, are trying to woo more Hispanic fans by broadcasting three games in Spanish this season.
1210-AM ESPN Deportes in Miami an ESPN Deportes 760 AM in West Palm Beach will carry the games beginning with the October 30 home tilt against the Arizona Coyotes on Hispanic Heritage Night.
When not stopping pucks, Al Montoya will be talking hockey on radio to woo Hispanic fans.
The stations will also broadcast the January 15 home game between the Panthers and the Colorado Avalanche and the March 21 home match against the Boston Bruins.
“These radio broadcasts will help to continue to grow and enhance our brand and the game with our Hispanic fan base in the tri-county area,” said Rory A. Babich, the Panthers’ CEO and president.
Arley Londono, the Panthers’ original Spanish-language broadcaster from 1993 to 1996, will be the play-by-play man for the games and Octavio Sequera will serve as color analyst and host.
When he’s not between the pipes, Panthers goaltender Al Montoya, the National Hockey League’s first Cuban-American player, will be behind the mic talking hockey during weekly spots on 1210 AM ESPN Deportes and ESPN Deportes 760 radio shows.
Montoya joined the Panthers as a free agent in July after spending two seasons with the Winnipeg Jets. The New YorkRangers originally took Montoya with the sixth overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft after he starred in net for the University of Michigan.
Although the Panthers are playing respectable hockey early in the 2014-15 season – a 2-2-2 record heading into the weekend – the team is struggling mightily at the gate. The ‘Cats only average 9,365 fans at home, making the BB&T Center in Sunrise seem cavernous. The team averages 17,503 fans on the road.
Given the presence of NHL teams in areas with large Hispanic/Latin-American populations – New York, Los Angeles and, Dallas – it’s surprising that more teams don’t offer Spanish-language game broadcasts.
Players like defenseman Alec Martinez, who scored the goal that clinched the StanleyCup for the Los Angeles Kings last season, and San Jose Sharks forward Raffi Torres have helped draw more Hispanic/Latin-American fans to the game.
Some of the NHL’s broadcast partners, mindful of the changing demographics and immigration patterns in the United States and Canada, are expanding their radio and television offerings beyond the usual English and French.
“Hockey Night in Canada” continues its Punjabi telecasts this season and Canada’s Rogers Sportsnet, which owns HNIC’s broadcast rights, ultimately plans to offer introduction to hockey television spots – remember Peter Puck? – in 22 languages including Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese.
I had planned to stay above the fray, not get involved in the talk radio ramblings of ESPN’sColin Cowherd and his inane assertion that African-American men don’t watch hockey. I was fine letting it go until someone sent me an even more witless defense of Cowherd’s dribble from streetcarnage.com.
“He was saying American blacks don’t watch hockey,” the missive posted by John Pittsley said. “I’m not sure if Canada has any. But if they do, I’m sure they watch it. It’s probably required by law. But here in the good ol’ USA, blacks couldn’t give less of a sh**t about hockey.”
To further prove that his finger’s on the pulse of all things minority hockey, Mr. Pittsley observes that if you watch a hockey game “chances are, you won’t see a black guy on the ice.” Then he added that “there are currently 28 black NHL players, some of whom don’t play a prominent role or get a lot of ice time.”
Jeez, what’s a brother got to do on ice to get prominent role status? Win a NorrisTrophy as the NHL’s best defenseman? Play 33:16 minutes of a crucial 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs game and average nearly 25 minutes of ice time per game thus far in the 2014-15 season? Score a sick, back-breaking wraparound breakaway goal? Check.
Become synonymous with Canadian Olympic hockey excellence? Be one of the first team captains of color in the NHL and a sure-fire first ballot Hockey Hall of Fame inductee with 560 goals, 610 assists – and counting – in 16 seasons? Check.
Colorado Avalanche forward and future Hockey Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla.
Be fifth in the NHL in goals, ahead of Tampa Bay Lightning’sSteven Stamkos, Pittsburgh Penguins’Sidney Crosby, and Washington Capitals’AlexanderOvechkin? Check.
Cowherd’s comments and streetcarnage.com’s diatribe contribute to a false narrative that black Americans and other people of color don’t play, don’t watch, don’t like hockey. It’s an old saw and – how many times do we have to say it – a wrong one.
I hope that, if anything, this blog teaches folks about the history and growing impact of people of color in the game on the ice, in the stands in the broadcast booth, wherever.
The good news is that ESPN Chicago observed this week that there’s enough interest in hockey among minorities in the Windy City that the hometown Blackhawks have taken notice and are trying to tap into it. It’s good hockey sense and good business sense. And thanks to ESPN Chicago’s Scott Powers, for the shout-out in the piece.
Before the NHL season began, I asked Color of Hockey readers to share their stories about what attracted them to the game. Toronto’s Garfield Richards, 44, told me he started playing after watching his children enjoy themselves playing in the GreaterToronto Hockey League and a house league at the city’s Victoria Village.
Richards was among several adult hockey beginners profiled in a National Post story last January about hockey’s changing face. He jokingly described himself as “the guy in the blue helmet looking a bit like The Great Gazoo” in the photo that accompanied the article.
“I’m a huge fan of Montreal and of P.K. Subban’s,” Richards told me. “He has the work ethic of my mother (Jamaican to the core) and the energy of my kids.”
Tarasai Karega reminded me that she’s been in love with hockey ever since she first watched Disney’s “The Mighty Ducks” movie as a little girl. Hockey became her life. She went on to win an NCAA women’s hockey title playing for Amherst College in 2008-09 and served as coordinator for hockey operations for Philadelphia’s Ed Snider Youth HockeyFoundation.
Tarasai Karega, far right, with Amherst College teammates.
These days, Karega lives in the land of Mickey Mouse and works as a premium guest services representatives for the National Basketball Association’s Orlando Magic. But Karega says when she’s not working Magic games, she’s watching the ECHL’sOrlandoSolar Bears play hockey.
Yahong Chi told me that she got hooked on hockey because it’s part of the Canadian fabric, no matter where you come from.
“My East Asian parents, having immigrated to Ottawa when I was 2, were very much disinterested in hockey; and so was I until my teenage years, when I started to notice just how much hockey was ingrained in the lifeblood of the city,” she explained to me. “And once I started to pay attention, I couldn’t stop. With hockey culture already so established in Canada, it made falling in love with hockey, probably the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Following sports writers on Twitter, turning on the TV on Saturday nights, obsessing over line combinations—it was amazingly simple for hockey to integrate itself into my life.”
So to folks who say black people and other people of color don’t like this or don’t like that when it comes to hockey, I quote the great actor Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men”: “You can’t handle the truth.”
It’s early in the 2014-15 hockey season and Washington Capitals defensive prospect Madison Bowey is already putting up numbers that would make Bobby Orr, Paul Coffey, or Mike Green proud.
Bowey, a Capitals 2013 second-round draft pick, was the Canadian Hockey LeaguePlayer of theWeek for Sept. 29-Oct. 5. The defenseman for the Western Hockey League’sKelowna Rockets scored two goals and six assists in three games and had a plus-minus rating of plus-7.
Bowey, the team’s captain, did most of his damage last Wednesday in a 7-5 Rockets home win over the Vancouver Giants, notching two goals and three assists. Both goals were scored while the Rockets were shorthanded.
The 19-year-old Winnipeg native picked up two more assists in a 5-4 overtime road win against the Everett Silvertips last Friday and another in a 6-4 road victory against the Seattle Thunderbirds last Saturday.
Bowey’s scoring binge gives him two goals and nine assists in five games this season. He tallied 21 goals, 39 assists, and collected 93 penalty minutes in 72 games with the Rockets last season.
Forward Anthony Duclair entered the New York Rangers training camp and defenseman Darnell Nurse arrived at the Edmonton Oilers camp on missions to make the big club and not be sent back to their junior teams.
Anthony Duclair looks to make NHL regular season debut this week.
Both 19-year-olds learned that they’ve made it to the National Hockey League, at least for a nine-game look-see, with the teams that drafted them in 2013.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Duclair told Blueshirts United. “I had a meeting with (Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault) and was told I’d be starting the season with the Rangers. Words can not describe how I feel right now, but I’ve worked hard to get to this point and I’m pretty proud of myself.”
And the Rangers are pretty proud of Duclair. The team announced last Friday that he was the recipient of the 2014 Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, given to the best rookie in training camp as judged by the media covering the team.
Duclair, the 80th overall pick in the third round of the 2013 draft, notched three goals and two assists in five preseason games for the Rangers. The speedy left wing registered 50 goals and 49 assists in 59 games last season for the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior HockeyLeague.
“He’s got an NHL skill set,” Vineault told Blueshirts United of Duclair. “He’s got the hands, the speed, the thinking with the puck. Can that continue when the season starts against a full NHL lineup with full NHL pace and intensity? He’s going to get a chance to prove that. He’s earned the right to start with us Thursday.”
So has Nurse. The seventh player chosen in the 2013 draft, he was one of the last
Nurse wants to stick with Oilers beyond 9-game NHL look-see.
players cut by the Oilers before the start of the 2013-14 season. An emotional Nurse told reporters back then that “it sucks” being cut.
But he returned to the Ontario Hockey League’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, donned the captain’s “C,” dedicated himself to making the Oilers in 2014-15, and making Team Canada’s roster for the 2015 International Ice Hockey Federation WorldJunior Championship in December. He was inexplicably left off last year’s Canadian squad.
Nurse, who hails from a competitive sports family that includes retired Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, was a combination of all smiles and all business upon hearing that he had made the Oilers.
“It’s definitely exciting,” Nurse said on the Oilers’ website Sunday. “With that said, it’s just another step. I think to get to this point I’m really happy with the way I went through camp and the way I played, but there’s always room for improvement. I think that’s definitely something I’m going to focus on, continuing to get better everyday, have fun and work hard.”
Oilers General Manager Craig MacTavish said Nurse would have had to play himself out of a roster spot during training camp. The defenseman didn’t score any goals in six preseason games, but he tallied two assists and had a plus/minus rating of plus-3.
He scored 13 goals and 37 assists in 64 games at Sault Ste. Marie last season. He was a plus-1 and collected 91 penalty minutes with the Greyhounds.
“Right now, I think he’s deserving of the look,” MacTavish said on the Oilers website. “He’s played exceptionally well for a young defenseman, I think. We’ll see where it goes with Darnell.”
Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins echoed MacTavish’s view that Nurse may have made the NHL, but he still doesn’t have it made.
“For our guys that aren’t the established NHL players, the evaluation continues…,” he said on the team’s website. “They’ve earned the right to stay another day, but their evaluations will continue. Darnell knows that. He’s a bright kid, he’s a passionate kid, he wants to stay here dearly. I know that, but we’ll continue to evaluate.”