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.
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.
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.'”
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.Embed from Getty Images
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.”
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Some of the National Hockey League’s players of color are feeling a draft.
At least 17 minority players are among the players left unprotected by the NHL’s 30 teams for Wednesday’s Expansion Draft to help form the inaugural roster for the Vegas Golden Knights.
The players of color made available – a nicer phrase than “unprotected” – include a likely future Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, three multiple Stanley Cup winners, three Olympians, and a few minor league prospects.
Here’s a summary of the players available:
Emerson Etem, left wing. The 29th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft, Etem has bounced from the Ducks to the New York Rangers to the Vancouver Canucks and back to the Ducks. And he’s boomeranged between Anaheim and its American Hockey League affiliate in San Diego.
He only appeared in three games for the Ducks in 2016-17 and was held scoreless. He does have 22 goals and 24 assists in 173 NHL regular season games and 6 goals and 2 assists in 23 playoff games.
Malcolm Subban, goaltender. Subban was 24th player picked in the 2012 NHL Draft but has been unable to secure a spot on a Bruins roster that features Tuuka Rask between the pipes. Rask won the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14 as the NHL’s best goaltender.
The younger brother of Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban, Malcolm Subban appeared in 32 games last season for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s AHL farm team. His stats: 11 wins, 14 losses, a 2.41 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage. He had 2 losses in the AHL playoffs and sported a 2.12 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.
Johnny Oduya, defense. Oduya was a member of the 2013 and 2015 Chicago Stanley Cup teams and the Swedish team that won the Silver Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 52 regular season games for the Blackhawks last season. He has 37 goals and 145 assists in 798 career regular season contests and 6 goals and 22 assists in 106 career playoff games.Embed from Getty Images
Jordin Tootoo, right wing. The diminutive dynamo of Inuit heritage was limited to 2 goals and 1 assist in 50 regular season games in 2016-17. He has 65 goals and 96 assists in 723 games with Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, and the New Jersey Devils.
Gemel Smith, center. The Stars took the 23-year-old in the fourth round with the 104th overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. He hasn’t seen much time in Big D. He scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 17 regular season games for Dallas in 2016-17.
His younger brother, forward Giavani Smith, was taken by the Detroit Red Wings in the second round with the 46th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Jujhar Khaira, center. Khaira was one of the feel-good stories of the 2016-17 season when he scored his first NHL goal – a source of pride for North America’s South Asian community. The Oilers took Khaira in the third round with the 63rd overall pick of the 2012 NHL Draft. His one goal and 2 assists were his only points in 10 games for the Oilers in 2016-17.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Jarome Iginla, right wing. Iginla, 39, is one of hockey’s most-decorated players. He’s a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winner, and a recipient of the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer in 2002 and 2004 and the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer in 2002. He won the Lester B. Pearson Award – the most valuable player award voted by the players – in 2002.
Iginla, a sure-fire Hall of Famer when he retires, had 14 goals and 13 assists in 80 games for the Kings in 2016-17.
Jordan Nolan, center. A proud member of the Ojibwe Nation, Nolan played for the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and 2014. Nolan, the son of former Buffalo Sabres Head Coach Ted Nolan, appeared in only 46 games for the Kings last season and tallied 4 goals and 4 assists.
Matt Dumba, defense. Of Filipino heritage, Dumba posted a career-best 11 goals and 23 assists in 76 games. His plus/minus – an indicator of defensive responsibility – improved from plus-1 in 2015-16 to plus-15 in 2016-17.
Al Montoya, goaltender. The well-traveled Cuban-American goaltender could be on the move again. A 2004 first-round of the Rangers, Montoya has strapped on the pads for the New York Islanders, Florida Panthers, Phoenix Coyotes, and Winnipeg Jets before he seemingly settled in as Carey Price’s backup in Montreal.
Montoya appeared in 19 games for the Habs, posted an 8-6-4 record with a 2.67 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.
NEW JERSEY DEVILS
Devante Smith-Pelly, right wing. Devo is coming off a down season in New Jersey, his third team since the Ducks chose him with in the second round with the 42nd overall pick in the 2010 draft. He scored only 4 goals and 5 assists in 50 games.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS
Christopher Gibson, goaltender. The black Finn didn’t play a minute in Brooklyn in 2016-17 and had a short season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the Isles’ AHL team. There, he appeared in seven games and won 6. He had a 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.
Gibson played in four NHL games in 2015-16, posted a 1-1-1 record with a 3.40 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage.Embed from Getty Images
Pierre-Edourard Bellemare, left wing. The French player probably enjoyed his most memorable season in 2016-17. It started with the World Cup of Hockey, where the fourth-line Flyers player became a key contributor for Team Europe and ended with him playing before his countrymen at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship in Paris.
In between, Bellemare had a solid enough year for the Flyers that the team re-signed him to a two-year deal at $1.45 million per year and made him an assistant captain. The 32-year-old checking line forward scored 4 goals and 4 assists in 82 regular season games. He has 17 goals and 17 assists in 237 career NHL games.
Trevor Daley, defense. Daley is experiencing the cruel business side of hockey. Win a Stanley Cup one week, get exposed to the expansion draft the next. The 33-year-old offensively-talented and defensively-responsible player began his NHL career with the Dallas Stars in 2003-04. Daley reached the 20-point mark seven times during his tenure with Dallas.Embed from Getty Images
He had 5 goals and 15 assists in 56 games for the Penguins in 2016-17 and tallied 1 goal and 4 assists in 21 playoff games that ended with him winning a second Stanley Cup. Daley 78 goals and 200 assists in 894 career NHL regular season games.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
Joel Ward, right wing. Injuries in 2016-17 hampered the 36-year-old wing who earned a reputation as a clutch playoff performer during his NHL career. He scored 10 goals and 19 assists in 78 regular season games and 1 goal and 3 assists in six playoff games.
He’s tallied 22 goals and 30 assists in 83 playoff games for San Jose, Nashville, and the Washington Capitals.
TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
J.T. Brown, right wing. A tough player who isn’t afraid to speak his mind on social issues, Brown had 3 goals and 3 assists for the Lightning last season. He has 18 goals and 39 assists in 262 NHL regular season games.
T.J. Oshie, right wing. Why in the world would the Capitals expose a player who notched 33 goals and 23 assists in 68 games last season? Our friends at the Russian Machine Never Breaks Capitals fan site break it down to money and uncertainty. Oshie needs a new contract and the NHL currently isn’t sure what the league salary cap will be next season. And Oshie could become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. All that might be enough for the Golden Knights to pass on him, leaving the Caps to move forward with a new deal once the 2017-18 salary cap is set.
We’ve taken a look at diversity in the National Hockey League at the start of the 2016-17 season. Now let’s take a peek at the future.
A growing number of players color have been drafted by NHL teams in recent years. Several of them are currently playing for the minor league affiliates of the NHL teams that drafted them or skating for the major junior teams they were chosen from.
And others, like forward Joshua Ho-Sang, have the potential to be called up to the parent club this season. So here’s a look at NHL diversity, the next generation.
There’s something special about brothers playing against each other in hockey.
Carolina Hurricanes forward Eric Staal once knocked brother Marc, a member of the New York Rangers, silly with a questionable hit against the boards. And Keith and Wayne Primeau actually dropped the gloves and duked it out when Keith played for the Hartford Whalers and Wayne for the Buffalo Sabres.
Hockey fans could be in for a treat Sunday when the Montreal Canadiens play the Boston Bruins, a game scheduled to air nationally on NBCSN. If Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien decides to start rookie goaltender Malcolm Subban against defenseman P.K. Subban’s Habs, it will be one of the rare times when players of color who are related square off in an NHL regular season game.
There are no guarantees that it happens. Malcolm Subban hasn’t played a regular
season minute in the NHL. He’s up from the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins because Boston sent backup goalie Niklas Svedberg to its Rhode Island affiliate for a conditioning stint.
Boston has been slow and deliberate in grooming Malcolm Subban, their 2012 first-round draft pick. When asked if the rookie goaltender would get a start this weekend, Julien only told reporters “We’ll see, guys.”
Julien could give Subban his first NHL start Saturday when the Canadiens play the New York Islanders.
Malcolm Subban told reporters that he’s up for whatever, even facing P.K. and his Howitzer slapshot from the point. “It would be pretty cool, but I’m not thinking into it too much,” he told WEEI.com Thursday. “Just trying to stay focused. Whenever the opportunity comes, hopefully I’ll be ready.”
Netminder Subban and defenseman Subban have faced each other before in a 2013 preseason game that Boston won 6-3.
“He had one (shot), it was probably the slowest shot I had all night,” Malcolm told NHL.com after that game. “A little knucklepuck on net.”
Sounds like blackboard material to me.
Minority hockey-playing brothers have skated against each other before. Chris Stewart, then a forward for the St. Louis Blues, and Anthony Stewart, a forward for the Hurricanes at the time, faced each other in 2011.
The publication is named The Vancouver Sun but the caption with the photo was hardly enlightening.
Defenseman Jordan Subban, the Vancouver Canucks’ fourth-round draft pick in 2013, scored his first-ever NHL goal in Tuesday night’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks. After scoring the goal, a happy Subban celebrated with his teammates, a moment captured in a photograph published in The Sun’s online edition.
The picture was fine. The caption that accompanied it, not so much. It said: Vancouver Canucks celebrate goal by Jordan Subban (dark guy in the middle) against San Jose Sharks in NHL pre-season game at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, B.C. on September 23, 2014.
“Dark guy in the middle.” Really? Glad the cutline cleared up that confusion.
To add some bones to the caption’s obsession with Subban’s flesh: Jordan Subban was the 115th player selected in the 2013 draft. He’s the youngest brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban.
Jordan was a top defenseman last season for the Bellville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League. The diminutive 19-year-old notched 12 goals and 30 assists for the Bulls in 65 games. Big brother P.K., who won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2013, on several occasions has said Jordan is a cerebral blue-liner who can teach him a thing or two about playing defense.
The Sun and Vancouver’s Province newspaper apologized for the insensitive caption, but it’s still the latest racially clumsy episode before the first puck drops on the NHL’s 2014-15 season. First EA Sports inexplicably depicts St. Louis Blues tough guy Ryan Reaves about 15 shades too dark in its NHL video game, now the crazy Subban caption.
Subban took the episode in stride.
“I heard about that,” he told The Province Wednesday. “I had a chance to talk to a representative from the paper and it seemed like a pretty honest mistake. Am I worried about it? No. If people should be talking about something, it should be the way I played last night rather than that. Hopefully, it will just die down.
“It was just unfortunate. I don’t think there were any bad intentions. It is what it is and I’ve moved on and I’m sure everyone else will, too.”
Subban is on his way back to Bellville. The Canucks cut him and three other players and shipped them back to their major junior hockey teams.
Karl Subban remembers the days when he would take his young son, Pernell Karl, ice skating and look around the rink to see if there was anybody else there that looked like them.
“In those days if you saw a black parent or a black person in the arena you would look twice,” he told me recently. “And now you don’t have to look twice anymore, things have changed a lot. Every time I walk into an arena you see minority children and minority parents.”
Things are indeed changing at rinks across North America and around the world, and Karl Subban’s family is a major force helping to facilitate that
change. Young Pernell Karl simply goes by P.K. now and he’s grown into a Norris Trophy-winning, slick-skating superstar defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens.
Brother Malcolm is in the middle, a 2012 Boston Bruins first round draft pick who played his first year of pro hockey last season for the Providence Bruins, Boston’s American Hockey League farm team. Youngest brother Jordan is a defenseman and 2013 Vancouver Canucks fourth-round draft pick, who skated last season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Bellville Bulls – the major junior team that his older brothers played for.
Karl Subban can’t hide a patriarch’s pride that his sons are reaching hockey’s upper echelon. But then, that’s always been the plan.
“We had the dream for these boys to play hockey, not just house league, but at a high level,” the elder Subban said of he and his wife, Maria. “The hardest part is to make it their dream and make them want it more than mom and dad.”
Karl says he reminds P.K, and his brothers that they are “pioneers” who stand on the shoulders of players of color who went before them.
“I look at the work that so many people have done whether it’s Willie O’Ree, or Herb Carnegie and others – Mike Marson, the McKegney brothers, they also paved the way,” he said. “Maybe there was a gap in between. So whether it’s my boys or (Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell) Nurse, we’re starting to close that gap, especially at the professional level. I say to P.K. ‘You’re a pioneer, you’re an inspiration and hope for so many.’”
Getting three boys to the pro hockey level isn’t an easy task for any family. For Karl, whose family moved to Canada from Jamaica when he was 11, and wife Maria, whose family arrived in the Great White North from the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat, negotiating the sport initially had its challenges.
“Our connection to hockey is as far as the distances we traveled to Canada,” Karl told me. “That’s the way I sort of summarize it.”
Karl was bitten by the hockey bug as a kid. He learned to skate while growing up in Sudbury, Ontario, and enjoyed watching the Sudbury Wolves play. The team had a talented forward on its roster, Marson, who later became the NHL’s second black player when he was drafted by the Washington Capitals in the team’s inaugural 1974-75 season.
Karl went on to play basketball at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., and went into teaching upon graduation. But he still had hockey on his mind. He bought P.K. his first pair of skates when he was 2 1/2. By four, the tyke was playing in a house league. About that time, “Maria and I decided he’s going to skate every day,” Karl told me.
That often called for Karl to take P.K. to the rink late at night after he got home from work from two vice principal jobs in Toronto. It also meant that sometimes Maria would put an exhausted P.K. to bed after midnight still dressed in his snowsuit.
It’s a recipe that Karl followed with Malcolm and Jordan and with daughters, Natassia and Natasha, in their athletic endeavors. You see, Karl Subban is a firm believer in practice. He was “Outliers” author Malcolm Gladwell long before Gladwell wrote that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master a task.
With that philosophy, Karl Subban isn’t a fan of Allen Iverson. You could almost feel him shaking his head in disbelief over the phone as he recalled the Philadelphia 76ers star point guard’s infamous 2002 rant after being questioned about his practice habits.
“We’re talking about practice?” Iverson said, repeating the P-word 20 times during the course of his discourse. “I mean listen, we’re sitting here talking about practice, not a game, not a game, but we’re talking about practice? Not the game that I go out there and die for and play every game like it’s my last but we’re talking about practice, man.”
Fingernails on a blackboard for Karl, a retired public school principal.
“What a wrong message to give kids who are looking up to him. You don’t get better by playing, you get better by practicing,” he told me. “With my boys…I wouldn’t be as upset if they missed a game, but if they missed an opportunity to skate, or to practice, or to shoot pucks, that didn’t sit well with me, that bothered me a tremendous amount.”
Practice and hard work have paid off for Karl’s boys – and will pay off handsomely for P.K. He scored 10 goals and 43 assists in 82 games for the Canadiens last season, ranking fifth among NHL defensemen. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he tallied 5 goals and 9 assists in 17 games, finishing fourth among defensemen in scoring.
As a restricted free agent, P.K.’s 2013-14 exploits – including logging a whopping 33 minutes of ice time in a Game 4 loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference Final – will likely translate into a long-term deal that exceeds $7 million per-season from Montreal or another team that bids for his services.
“Obviously, everybody wants a long-term deal, in a place where they like to play,” Subban told The Montreal Gazette last month. “But there’s a lot of different things to consider in a contract negotiation. There’s stability for the family. There’s what’s in the best interest of the player and in the best interest of the team, for the organization moving forward.”
“And,” he added, “proper compensation.”
While P.K. waits for an adjustment of digits in his paycheck, Malcolm is adjusting to life as a professional hockey player. In shifting from the OHL to the AHL, Malcolm went from being the main Bull to a back-up Bruin in net. He appeared in 33 games for Providence, won 15 lost 10 and sported a 2.31 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage.
He played in six Calder Cup Playoffs games for Providence and came away with a 2-2 record and 2.96 goals-against average.
“It was challenging, to be honest,” Malcolm told NHL.com. “When it’s something you’re not used to, like I’m used to playing a lot of games and being the go-to guy, so it was kind of tough being the secondary guy. But I just had to stay focused mentally. I think that was the hardest thing for me mentally, just to stay focused and earn my way. And you know you don’t play as much, so you know when you get a chance to play you’ve got to play well, and that’s what I tried to do.”
Jordan is waiting for his chance to show what he can do as a pro. He recently attended the Canucks’ prospect camp and impressed the team’s brain
trust. He played 66 games for Bellvelle last season, scoring 12 goals and 30 assists.
“Jordan has high-end offensive skill and you can see, when they do the offensive drills, his ability to handle the puck and get his shot through to the net,” Canucks General Manager Jim Benning told The Ottawa Citizen. “He has really good lateral movement and he can also move the puck up the ice either with a good first pass or skating it out of his own end.”
With his three sons busy pursuing their hockey careers, Karl Subban is still busy building the family’s hockey legacy. He takes his 3-year-old grandson – Legacy Bobb , son of Natassia Subban-Bobb – ice skating often. Legacy’s baby twin brothers, Epic and Honor, will get the same quality time with granddad after Santa delivers them ice skates this Christmas.
“We go out, no hockey stick, no games, use what I did with the boys,” he said of his time with Legacy. “I’m on the ice with him, he never cries. It’s funny, I want him to skate but we never talk about skating. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.”
UP NEXT: Meet the Vilgrains.
The beauty of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban isn’t just his chocolaty brown skin, but the thickness of it.
It allows him to not only play in the intense hockey fishbowl that is Montreal but to thrive in the environment. It lets him deflect criticism in some media and National Hockey League circles that he’s nothing more than a flashy, mouthy, high risk-high, high reward defenseman who can’t be trusted with a game on the line.
It allowed the indignity of being the reigning Norris Trophy winner – the prize awarded the NHL’s best defenseman – but only playing 11 minutes for Team Canada Head Coach Mike Babcock during the entire 2014 Winter Olympics roll off his back and not prevent him from enjoying his experience in Sochi, Russia.
It allowed him to ignore the torrent of boos from Boston Bruins fans at TD Bank Garden Thursday night to score two goals, including the double overtime blast from the blue line that gave the Canadiens a 4-3 victory in the first game of their second-round their Stanley Cup Playoffs series against Boston.
The thickness of Subban’s hide is probably also allowing him to tune out what’s hopefully a sub-section of hockey fans who, infused with keyboard courage and maybe a beer or five, took to their electronic devices after Thursday’s game and let loose some racist emails and tweets aimed at Subban. The N-word, porch monkey, and other outdated racial epithets flashed onto social media no sooner did Subban’s goal hit the back of the Boston net.
The ugly episode had the same modus operandi as when Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward scored a playoff series-ending goal against the Bruins in 2012. That deluge of hate prompted Bruins management and National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman to issue statements condemning those so-called fans.
Friday, the Bruins oranization once again found itself admonishing the less-enlightened element of the team’s fan base.
“The racist, classless views expressed by an ignorant group of individuals following Thursday’s game via digital media are in no way a reflection of anyone associated with the Bruins organization,” team President Cam Neely said in a statement issued by the team.
Political leaders in Boston, a city that has had its struggles with race in the past, also voiced disdain about the racial hate directed at Subban.
“This is a disgrace. These racist comments are not reflective of Boston, and are not reflective of Bruins fans,” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said. “I’ve said before that the best hockey in the world happens when the Bruins and Canadiens play each other, and there is no room for this kind of ignorance here.”
Matt Larkin, an associate editor of The Hockey News tweeted: To the people tweeting racist crap about P.K. Subban: you are human garbage, living in the wrong millennium.”
Other tweets and emails raised interesting questions. What do these alleged Bruins fans say or do when black Boston forward Jarome Iginla scores a goal? What will they do if and when top Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban, P.K.’s younger brother who recently completed his rookie season with the American Hockey League’s Providence Bruins, plays for the big club?
When Willie O’Ree made history in 1958 as the NHL’s first black player, he did it wearing a Boston Bruins jersey. Ironically, O’Ree did it playing against the Canadiens in Montreal. Hockey has come a long way since then. But the racist messages hurled at Subban shows how much farther the game has to go.
With the 2013-14 season set to begin Oct. 1, National Hockey League teams are busy whittling down their training camp rosters, assigning not-quite-ready for prime-time players to the minor leagues or back to their junior teams.
Many of the young players of color taken in the 2013 NHL Draft managed to get a brief taste of NHL life before returning to their junior squads to get more playing time and buy time to grow both physically and mentally.
Jordan Subban enjoyed his training camp time wearing the Vancouver Canucks blue, white and green. But first-year Head Coach John Tortorella felt the 5-foot-9, 177-pound defenseman, the 115th player picked in the draft, could use more seasoning with the Ontario Hockey League’s Bellville Bulls.
“I’ve always said that if I don’t play in the NHL, it won’t be because I’m too small,” said the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and Boston Bruins goaltending prospect Malcolm Subban told Metronews.ca earlier this month. “I think that I can definitely use my vision and smarts. I’m not the biggest guy, so I’m not going to be able to muscle a lot of guys off the puck, so just try to think the game maybe a little bit more and make smarter plays.”
The Washington Capitals have high hopes for Madison Bowey – but not for the 2013-14 season. The 6-foot-1, 195-pound defenseman, the 53rd overall pick in the draft, was sent back to the Western Hockey Leagues Kelowna Rockets.
“Want to thank the @washcaps organization for giving me the opportunity to have an amazing experience at the main camp,” Bowey tweeted on Sept. 15. The next day he pronounced himself ready to go for a new season with the Rockets.
“Great to be back @Kelowna Rockets boys! Misses the fellas,” he tweeted.
When the Buffalo Sabres drafted Justin Bailey, he felt right at home. After all, the right wing from the OHL Kitchener Rangers grew up Williamsville, N.Y. – just a stone’s throw from Buffalo. After a stint in the Sabres camp, Bailey is a Ranger again.
Rght wing Nicholas Baptiste, chosen by the Sabres with the 69th overall pick in the third round of the draft, impressed the Buffalo brain trust at the NHL Prospects Tournament in Traverse City, Mich., earlier this month, registering points in three consecutive games. Still, he’s back with his junior team, the OHL Sudbury Wolves.
Left wing Anthony Duclair impressed the New York Rangers with his speed and skating ability. “REALLY like this kid’s game,” the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard wrote last July in his “Blueshirts Blog” following a Rangers development camp. “Very, very good skater who frequently arrives at the puck on the spot first…He needs to get stronger, but that’s normal for a young prospect who needs to grow and develop physically. He’s shifty, dips out of checks often, too.”
Duclair, taken with the 80th overall pick in the draft’s third round, is a few seasons away from his Broadway debut. The Rangers sent him back to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts where he scored two goals in the first game of the season.
The Nashville Predators someday may boast a twin-towers defense pairing of 6-foot-4, 206-pound Seth Jones and 6-foot-5, 223-pound Jonathan-Ismael Diaby. Jones, drafted fourth overall, is likely to make the Predators and is a longshot to make the U.S. Olympic hockey team that will compete at the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February. The Predators returned Diaby, the 64th pick in the draft’s third round, to the Victoriaville Tigres for another season in the QMJHL.
Meanwhile, defenseman Darnell Nurse is turning heads at the Edmonton Oilers’ training camp. The 18-year-old from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds had an impressive pre-season outing against the Vancouver Canucks recently, playing 23 minutes in a 4-1 Oilers victory. He blocked shots and broke up two-on-one rushes.
“I can’t believe he’s 18 years old,” Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk told the Edmonton Journal. “He has this maturity about him on the ice. I’ve been so impressed with him.”
Still, Nurse, picked 7th in the draft, seems destined to return to the Soo, though Oilers players and coaches can’t stop raving about the good in his game.
“He’s raw and he’s got some steps to take to get to the NHL level, but I have to tell you we’re really happy with what we’ve seen of him so far,” Oilers Assistant Coach Steve Smith told TSN.