A basement full of hockey players snacking on pizza doesn’t typically make for an intense environment. But this humid August evening is an exception.
Strewn across the considerable couch space at the beautiful home of Mike Wilson, famous Toronto memorabilia collector: Joel Ward, Devante Smith-Pelly and Anthony Stewart. They represent a small chunk of the NHL’s growing black population. Also on hand: retired trailblazer Mike Marson, one of the game’s first black players. Some other NHLers, such as Mike Hoffman and Michael Latta, have tagged along, too.
And there’s tension in the air. We all wait as intrepid documentarian Damon Kwame Mason tinkers with the audio of a giant home theatre setup. He’s about to unveil a rough cut of his labor of love, Soul On Ice: Past Present & Future, and he wants everything to be absolutely perfect. The sound system isn’t quite on point for the first few seconds of his film, and that just won’t cut it. He starts it from the top several times until he knows it’s just right.
And from the minute the opening credits of Soul On Ice arrive, bathed in edgy hip-hop, everyone in the room understands how important this screening is. Mason has spent the last several years pouring his energy into documenting the history of black players in hockey, what hardships the pioneers overcame to break into the sport and why our perception of black players in the game is changing. He’s on a mission to show that black hockey roots run deeper and longer than so many of us realize, and he wants to shatter stereotypes of what it means to be a black hockey player today.
The seeds of Mason’s project were planted in his childhood, playing road hockey on the streets of Toronto in the late 1970s. Every kid pretended to be his favorite player, and Mason loved Guy Lafleur. “No, you can’t be Lafleur,” he remembers one kid telling him, because Lafleur was white.
“I wasn’t upset about it, because it’s a fact that he’s not black, you know?” Mason said. “So I had to deal with that. You grow up thinking that: ‘We don’t play hockey. This is one of the games we don’t play.’
Down 3-0 to the Colorado Avalanche in the second period, it looked as though the Minnesota Wild were well on their way to starting the 2015-16 campaign with a loss. Even after Zach Parise scored Minnesota’s first goal of the season to make it 3-1 with 13 minutes left in the second frame, things looked bleak. It looked even worse when John Mitchell put the Avalanche up 4-1.
But then Parise scored his second of the night early in the third, which was followed shortly thereafter with a goal by Nino Niederreiter and another by Thomas Vanek. In less than half a frame, the Wild had dug out of a 4-1 hole and brought the season-opening contest against the Avalanche level.
With the game tied 4-4, Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog was whistled for interfering with Jason Pominville, giving Minnesota a power play while they had all the momentum. And on that power play, Parise capped what was an incredible opening night on for both he and the Wild: Read more
Well, that didn’t take long.
Buffalo Sabres first round pick Jack Eichel has already found the back of the net. In the seasoning-opening game against the Ottawa Senators, Eichel buried the first tally of his career.
In the third period, the 18-year-old Eichel took a pass from behind the net and notched his first career tally by blowing a wristshot over the shoulder of Ottawa Senators netminder Craig Anderson. Read more
Throughout the pre-season, Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley admitted he wasn’t quite sure who his starting goaltender was. He had two choices: run with veteran Jonas Hiller or hand the reins to Karri Ramo. For opening night, he gave the nod to Ramo and early on, Ramo made Hartley look like a genius.
Midway through the first frame, with the Flames and Vancouver Canucks deadlocked at zero, a broken play in the neutral zone resulted in a 2-on-1 for the Canucks’ two most lethal players, the Sedin twins. With Henrik coming down the right wing and Daniel streaking down the left, Henrik laid a perfect saucer pass over the stick of Flames defenseman Kris Russell that landed right on Daniel’s tape for a one-timer.
In one motion, Ramo darted to his right and swung his blocker in windmill fashion to deflect the puck out of harm’s way and into the seats: Read more
During the late years of Hockey Night in Canada on CBC, Tim Thompson’s video montages were works of art.
Set perfectly to bands like The Foo Fighters, Tragically Hip and Smashing Pumpkins, Thompson’s montages were awe-inspiring and produced goosebumps on the arms of even the most hardened of hockey fans. With a new hockey season right around the bend, Thompson, who didn’t join the Hockey Night in Canada crew at Rogers, has produced a brand new video titled Maple Leafs Forever.
Even if you’re not a Maple Leafs fans, the video is worth watching: Read more
The NHL may be getting underway tonight, but the best goal you see all day might be this tally from Champions League action in Sweden.
In a Tuesday evening contest between Sweden’s Frolunda HC and Germany’s ERC Ingolstadt, Ryan Lasch, a 28-year-old American-born right winger, scored an absolutely gorgeous goal to lift Frolunda into the Round of 16.
After picking the puck up in his own end on a delayed penalty, Lasch flew through the neutral zone and proceeded to use an outside-inside move on two consecutive defenders before roofing a backhand from a seemingly impossible angle. Not only was the goal absolutely brilliant, it was the overtime winner in the second of a two-game set between Frolunda and Ingolstadt. Check it out: Read more
When you’re one of the top netminders in the KHL throughout your career, it’s expected that you’ll make some unthinkable stops. But even Konstantin Barulin had to be surprised by his lunging paddle stop on Yuri Babenko in KHL action Monday.
In third period action between HC Sochi and Dynamo Moscow, with the score deadlocked at two apiece, Babenko was the recipient of a glorious opportunity. A shot from the blue line was deflected on its way in and ended up coming to a stop right on Babenko’s stick with Barulin scrambling to regain position in his net. With Babenko thinking he had an entire cage to shoot at, he fired a backhand along the ice which was turned away miraculously by Barulin: Read more
When Alex Ovechkin stepped into the NHL as a 20-year-old, he found his way onto highlight reels with his cannon of a slapshot and blazing speed. Now 30, Ovechkin isn’t showing even the slightest signs of age. If anything, his one-timer may have even picked up some speed over the years. And Sunday night, he used his lethal one-timer to terrorize New York Islanders netminders Thomas Greiss and Stephon Williams.
Of course, both of Ovechkin’s tallies came on the power play, with him finding his position at the top of the left-wing circle in the offensive zone. On the first of his two tallies, Ovechkin took a perfect cross-ice feed from Evgeny Kuznetsov. Listen to the sound of Ovechkin connecting with the puck, which sounds like a firecracker went off: Read more