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.”
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 RussianSuperleague (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 Cupwith the Ontario HockeyLeague’s Oshawa Generals in 1990 with a bruising young teammate named Eric Lindros.
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 Maharajruns the goalies for the Anaheim Ducks and Frantz Jean coaches for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The sophomore from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, McGilldidn’t register a point in Sunday’s championship game, but she was a key contributor to Clarkson reaching the Frozen Four final, scoring the game-winning goal in the Golden Knights’ 4-3 semifinal victory over the University of Minnesota on Friday.
McGill was the Golden Knights sixth-leading scorer in the 2016-17 season with 9 goals and 22 assists in 41 games. In her 2015-16 freshman campaign, she was Clarkson’s seventh-leading scorer with 14 goals and 11 assists in 40 games and was tied for third among ECACrookies with 25 points.
Clarkson’s Rhyen McGill in action against the University of Wisconsin Badgers in NCAA Women’s Frozen Four championship game (Photo/Clarkson University).
Clarkson, a school in Potsdam, New York, finished the 2016-17 regular season with a 32-4-5 overall record and a 19-1-2 record within the ECAC.
University of Wisconsin forward Sarah Nurse.
Sunday’s championship game was the last collegiate contest for Wisconsin forward Sarah Nurse, cousin of Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurseand University of Connecticut basketball point guard Kia Nurse.
She was the second-leading Badgers scorer during the regular season with 25 goals and 28 assists in 39 games. She’ll leave Wisconsin as the school’s eighth all-time goal scorer among women with 74.
Professional hockey and a spot on Canada’s 2018 Winter Olympics women’s team could be in Nurse’s future. She was chosen by the Boston Pride with the eighth overall pick in the 2016 National Women’s Hockey LeagueDraft. And she has been a mainstay for Hockey Canada in international tournaments.
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Erik Foley, Jordan Greenway, and Caleb Jones received early Christmas presents Saturday – roster spots on the U.S. team that will compete in the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
With its final roster announcement, USA Hockey will skate one of the most diverse teams in the 10-nation tournament that begins Monday in Toronto and Montreal.
The three American players join Team Canada’sMathieu Joseph and Team Sweden’sOliver Kylington members of the diverse National Hockey League draft class of 2015 who will represent their countries in the tournament.
Providence College Friars forward Erik Foley in action for Team USA against Finland (Photo/Rena Laverty/USA Hockey).
Foley, a Winnipeg Jets third round draft pick, is a forward for Providence College Friars of Hockey East. A sophomore, Foley leads the team in scoring with 7 goals and 8 assists in 15 games.
Boston University’s Jordan Greenway earns spot on U.S. roster for IIHF world junior championship (Photo/Rena Laverty/USA Hockey).
Greenway, a Minnesota Wild second round draft pick, is a forward for Boston University of Hockey East. The sophomore is the Terriers’ second-leading scorer with 6 goals and 10 assists in 16 games.
Portland Winterhawks defenseman Caleb Jones will patrol the blue line for Team USA at IIHF world junior championship (Photo/Rena Laverty/USA Hockey).
Jones, an Edmonton Oilers fourth round draft pick, plays defense for the PortlandWinterhawks, a major junior team in the Western Hockey League. Jones, the younger brother of Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones, is fifth on the Winterhawks in scoring with 3 goals and 28 assists in 32 games. He’s tenth in scoring among WHL defensemen.
Mathieu Joseph, right, will play for Canada at the world junior championship tournament in Montreal and Toronto (Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)
Team Canada’s Joseph, a Tampa Bay Lightning fourth round selection, is a forward for the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He’s the Sea Dogs’ second-leading scorer with 33 goals and 40 assists in 58 games.
And let’s not forget Sweden’s Kylington. When he isn’t wearing his country’s classy Three Crowns jersey, the Calgary Flames second round draft pick skates for the Stockton Heat, the Flames’ American Hockey League affiliate.
Kylingtonis ninth on the Heat in scoring – and second among defensemen – with 4 goals and 9 assists in 25 games. He appeared in one game for the Flames in 2015-16.
Like many other retired National Hockey League players who want to remain part of the game, Fred Brathwaiteis patiently paying his dues in hopes of getting back in the league as a coach.
But instead of the endless back-road bus rides that fledgling major junior and minor league hockey coaches usually endure, Brathwaite is doing his apprenticeship in the pressure-packed spotlight as goaltender consultant for Hockey Canada. And he’s doing it well.
Hockey Canada goalie coach Fred Brathwaite (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images)
Under his guidance, Canada’s goaltenders backstopped the country’s Under-20 team to a Gold Medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation Junior WorldChampionship in Toronto/Montreal in January and a Bronze Medal at the IIHF’s Under-18 championship in Zug, Switzerland, last month.
“I would love to be an NHL goalie coach,” said Brathwaite, who played 254 games for the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, St. Louis Blues, and Columbus Blue Jackets over nine NHL seasons. “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.”
Indeed. Zach Fucale, a Montreal Canadiens 2013 second-round draft pick who played for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’sQuebec Remparts in 2014-15, and Eric Comrie, the Winnipeg Jets 2013 second-round pick who skated for the Western Hockey League’sTri-City Americans, provided serious goaltending for Canada at the worlds.
Fucale appeared in five games at the world juniors, posting a 1.20 goals against average and .939 save percentage. Comrie played in two games and had a 1.50 goals-against average and 933 save percentage.
“I’m very fortunate and very proud to be working with Hockey Canada,” Brathwaite told me recently. “Anytime you get a chance to wear your country’s flag, it’s an honor. “There’s still a little bit more I can learn about being an NHL goalie coach. And having this opportunity with Hockey Canada is helping me prepare for that.”
Goalies Zach Fucale (left) and Eric Comrie (right) with goalie coach Fred Brathwaite at 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship (Photo/ Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Brathwaite began preparing for a career transition in 2010-11 while he was playing for the Adler Mannheim Eagles of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga. At 39, he wanted to play one more season. But when no good offers came along, the man who shares the same real name as legendary rapper Fab Five Freddy became Mannheim’s goalie coach.
He quickly learned that the change from player to coach isn’t an easy one. “It’s a little more difficult then I thought,” he said. “Before I could control what’s happening in a game by playing and now, sitting up in the stands, you have no control. You just hope the kids play well, the team plays well, and, hopefully, you’ve prepared them as well as you could.”
While in Germany, Brathwaite stayed in touch with Hockey Canada. As a goaltender for the Canadian national team in 1998-99 and member of Canada’s world championship squads in 1998-99 and 2000-01, he was familiar with the organization’s brain trust and had no problems in being a pest about employment.
“Every time I would see those guys I’d keep bugging them, asking them when are they going to give me an opportunity,” he told me.
Opportunity knocked when Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada’s vice president for hockey operations, national teams, called in 2013 and “kind of offered me a job,” Brathwaite recalled
“I wouldn’t say it fell in my lap by any means because I kept bugging them and bugging them until they kind of gave in,” he said.
In Brathwaite, Hockey Canada tapped a former goaltender who won a Memorial Cupwith the Oshawa Generals in 1990 with a bruising young teammate named Eric Lindros; posted a 81-91-37 NHL record with 15 shutouts and a 2.73 goals-against average; and became a standout goalie in Russia and Germany. He was the German league’s Most Valuable Player in 2009. Not bad for a player who wasn’t drafted by an NHL team.
As Hockey Canada’s goaltending consultant, Brathwaite scouts and evaluates goalies for all of Canada’s world teams and provides on-ice coaching during international tournaments.
Fred Brathwaite at work at Canada’s World Junior Selection Camp (Photo/Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
“At tournaments like that my job is keeping them (goalies) sharp, keeping them focused, and try to keep them as relaxed as possible – not to let the highs get too high and the lows get too low,” he said.
Sounds simple enough, but goalies at almost every hockey level will tell you that the position – once dismissively considered the place to stick the kid who couldn’t skate – has become one of the most complex and most scrutinized in the game.
Back in the day when Braithwaite first strapped on the pads, it was “Goalie, heal thyself” in terms of development and fixing flaws in a goaltender’s game. Most NHL head coaches either didn’t have sufficient knowledge about the position or lacked the temperament to deal with sometimes-temperamental netminders.
“When I played in Edmonton, Billy Ranfordand I, we were our own goalie coach,” Brathwaite said. “Goalie coaching just wasn’t a big thing back then.”
Full-time goalie coaches in the NHL were unheard of until Warren Strelow joined the Washington Capitals’ coaching staff in 1983. Today, nearly every NHL team employs a full-time goalie coach or consultant.
Heck, even a pee wee hockey team might have a goalie coach these days. “A lot of these junior kids that we get on the worlds teams, they probably have a guy they use in the summer, a guy on their junior team,” Brathwaite said. “And now, they’re drafted in the NHL, so they have an NHL guy as well. And then they have me. It’s a big focus now.”
Fred Brathwaite played an NHL career-high 61 games for the Calgary Flames in 1999-00. (Photo courtesy of Calgary Flames Hockey Club).
With nearly 20 years of professional hockey experience in North America and Europe under his skates, Brathwaite is uniquely qualified to share knowledge about playing in the NHL and overseas with young goalies.
“A lot of things are very similar, especially now,” he said. “Back in the day, the NHL was more crashing the net. The goalies were a little more aggressive back then. But now you’re seeing guys like (Braden) Holtby in Washington and (New York Rangers’ Henrik) Lundqvist playing a little deeper in the net. That’s kind of more of a European style, sitting back and not being so aggressive.”
Brathwaite summed up his playing style back in the day with one word: “Messy.”
“Kind of like Martin Brodeur where you didn’t know what I’d do,” he said. “Sometimes I might stand up, sometimes I might go down. The way I played, I pretty much competed, battled. I had to be able to read the game, and that was something I was able to do.”
With Hockey Canada, Brathwaite is trying to get a bead on how other countries are developing their goalies. He and former NHL goalies Corey Hirsch and Rick Wamsley traveled to Sweden and Finland Sweden last fall to see what those countries are doing to produce talents like Lundqvist and Renne.
“What we noticed is they’re just more organized as a group in the way they’re doing the goalie structure,” Brathwaite said. “In North America, there are just some many different goalie coaches all over the place. Something that we would like to try is to get everybody on the same page: the kids learn how to skate and catch, do all the basics and fundamentals first before they start to get into different styles.”
While some in the hockey community fret that Europe is producing better goaltenders, Brathwaite isn’t worried. He noted that two North American goalies – Canadian-born Corey Crawford with the Chicago Blackhawks and Denver native Ben Bishop of the Tampa Bay Lightning – are playing for the Stanley Cup.
“I believe Canadian goaltending is doing very good,” he said. “But at the end of the day, people are talking about Lundqvist or Pekka Renne. But we have Carey Price. And Braden Holtby had an excellent year.”
Nurse, a 2013 Edmonton Oilers first-round draft pick, was named Canada’s player of the game in Monday night’s 5-4 victory over Russia in the tournament’s Gold Medal game in Toronto.
Defenseman Darnell Nurse has a monster IIHF tournament for Canada (Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images).
In addition, he was named one of Canada’s best three players in the tournament along with Max Domi, a forward for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League and a 2013 Arizona Coyotes first-round draft pick, and Sam Reinhart, a forward for the Western Hockey League’sKootenay Ice and a 2014 Buffalo Sabres first-rounder.
Monday’s win ended a five-year gold medal drought for Canada at the tourney for players under 20 years old, and the 19-year-old Nurse was a key component in the team winning the gold without a loss.
Monday night represented Mission Accomplished for Nurse. The nephew of retired Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb vowed to make Team Canada after not being named to the 2014 squad, a move that even stunned “Hockey Night in Canada” commentator Don Cherry.
Nurse is captain of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
The 2014 Canadian team finished fourth at the tournament played in Malmo, Sweden, and failed to medal.
“That is an absolute joke not to have Darnell Nurse out there,” the bombastic Cherry
Nurse appeared in two games for Edmonton in 2014-15.
said last year.
As for Nurse, he took the snub and being cut in training camp by Edmonton in 2013 hard. He used those experiences and being sent back to Sault Ste. Marie after playing two games for the Oilers this season as fuel to make Team Canada this year.
“Not being (in Edmonton) opens up opportunities like this, which I have been looking
forward to all year,” he told reporters at Team Canada’s training camp last month. “I am going to develop playing junior and hope to play in this tournament.”
And play he did. Nurse had one goal, no assists, and a plus-minus of +8 in seven games. He also got off 10 shots, several of them missiles fired while rushing the puck up ice. Opponents didn’t score while he was on the ice.
Apparently, there’s something about playing Russia that brings the best out of the Nurse family. Sarah Nurse, Darnell’s cousin and a forward for the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team, scored a goal for Canada’s National Women’sDevelopment Team in a 5-1 win against Russia Sunday at the 2015 Nation’s Cup tournament in Germany.
When Team USA and Team Canada prospects gather for pre-Olympics orientation camps next week, some of the National Hockey League’s best players of color and Native heritage will be in the mix to represent their countries in Sochi, Russia in February 2014.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien.
Three players of color were among the 48 invitees to the U.S. camp: Winnipeg Jets defenseman DustinByfuglien, from Roseau. Minn.; New YorkIslanders forward Kyle Okposo, a St. Paul, Minn., native; and Nashville Predators rookie defenseman Seth Jones, born in Plano, Texas. USA Hockey will hold its orientation camp Aug. 26-27 at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, Va., the practice facility for the Washington Capitals.
Two players of Native heritage players received camp invites. St. Louis Blues forward T.J.Oshie, who is part Ojibwe (Chippewa), will join the U.S. invitees at the Kettler facility. Montreal Canadiens star goaltender Carey Price, whose mother is a former chief of the Ulkatcho First Nations, will attend Team Canada’s orientation camp.
Blues’ T.J. Oshie hopes to be in Sochi in February.
The U.S. camp boasts an offensively potent roster that mixes youth, talent, and international experience with forwards Oshie, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Paul Statsny of the Colorado Avalanche. The defensive corps has size and nastiness with the likes of Byfuglien, Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes.
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban headlines a deep 47-player Team Canada orientation camp roster that includes Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby, Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Steven Stamkos, Chicago Blackhawks forward PatrickSharp and the Brothers Staal: forwards Eric and Jordan of the Carolina Hurricanes and defenseman Marc of the New York Rangers. Team Canada will hold its camp August 25-28 in Calgary.
Montreal’s P.K. Subban
Among the other international teams participating in the Winter Games, Team Sweden invited Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya to its camp.
With teams able to pick from the best hockey players in the world, some highly-talented NHL skaters didn’t receive camp invites. Notably absent for Team Canada were Winnipeg Jets high-scoring forward Evander Kane and Nazem Kadri, the Toronto Maple Leafs forward who had a breakout year last season that helped the Leafs end a long playoff appearance drought.The start of the camps begins the biggest mystery for both teams: who will be the goalies going to Sochi? Team USA invited six netminders: Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings, Cory Schneider of the NewJersey Devils, Jimmy Howard of the Detroit RedWings, Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller, who backstopped the U.S. team to a Silver Medal at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.But the most intriguing competitor for one of the Team USA three goaltender slots is John Gibson, the 20-year-old Anaheim Ducks draftee who played last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.
Seth Jones (Photo: USA Hockey).
Johnny Oduya hopes to represent Sweden in Sochi.
Gibson supplanted Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Helsinki and Stockholm last May and guided the U.S. team to a Bronze Medal. He has a solid international pedigree, having guided U.S. under-20 teams to Gold Medals at the IIHF Junior World Championships in 2013 and 2011.
Montreal’s Carey Price vies in a crowded net for Olympic spot.
Canada also must untangle its net. Hockey Canada’s brain trust will have to choose from the Chicago Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford, Braden Holtby of the WashingtonCapitals, Montreal’s Price, Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes, and VancouverCanucks’ Roberto Luongo, who was the winning goaltender in the Gold Medal game against the United States at the Vancouver Games.