Friday, December 31, 2010

My Big Black Paper: An introduction to Herbert Carnegie

If you missed yesterday's post, I am basically saying that the reason there are so few black skaters in the NHL is because of demography, not racism, although racist incidents do exist. Where will I go from here?? Let's take a look at Herbert Carnegie...

An Introduction to Herbert Carnegie

There exists scholarly works which have made, with varying degrees of success, the argument that the biggest reason there are so few black players in the NHL is due to racial discrimination. Perhaps one of the most explicit examples is the case of Herb Carnegie’s exclusion from the NHL. Herb Carnegie was a black hockey player who played for a number of Quebec-based minor league hockey teams over a career that spanned from 1944 to 1954. The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame lists him on its website as “likely one of the best ever players to never play pro-league hockey”. It should be clarified that the CSHF is referring to the lack of an NHL career for Carnegie, as he did play professional hockey in other leagues. Toiling away in the minor leagues, a breakout season at the age of twenty-nine earned him an invitation to training camp with the New York Rangers in 1948. He was offered a contract with their farm club; however it paid much less than what he could have made in the Quebec leagues, and he ultimately made the decision to continue to play hockey in Quebec.

Herb Carnegie was born on November 8th, 1919 in Toronto, as a member of the only black family on the west side of the city. As an infant, he and his family moved to a rural part of Toronto known as Willowdale. This move allowed his father, a janitor for a Toronto utility company, to earn supplemental income by growing produce and raising livestock in the country. While living in Willowdale, he and his brother Ossie played hockey on frozen ponds around the community for hours a day. Before he cracked the Quebec Professional Hockey League (QPHL), he played on a team in Timmins, Ontario, on a line with Ossie and another young black skater from New Brunswick named Manny McIntyre. As the first all-black line in professional hockey, the media was quick to coin nicknames with vivid imagery attached, such as the “Dark Destroyers” and the “Dusky Speedsters”.

Carnegie himself insists that the reason he did not make the NHL was “…not because of a lack of talent or a willingness to work hard, but because of racism”. Such a statement is a bold one, especially when it comes from a former professional athlete. It is easy enough to read this statement and conclude that this was in fact the reason why Carnegie did not make the NHL. However, when one takes a look at his career statistics, there are some very interesting numbers that surface.

Where will I go from here? Just what is so interesting about Carnegie's career stats? The man himself said he didn't make the show because of racism, how will I disprove this?? Tune in tomorrow to find out!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Big Black Paper

I wrote a 30-page paper on why there are so few black skaters in the NHL as compared to other professional leagues. From today on I will post parts of it as to not lose people's interest. It's a lot easier to read one page a day for three weeks than thirty pages all at once. Here is part one!!!!

High-Contrast Hockey
One of the most celebrated sports events in the last century is considered to be when Jackie Robinson took to the baseball field wearing the blue and white uniform of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1948. The significance is evidenced in the fact that no MLB player can wear Robinson’s number 42 on the back of his jersey; it has been retired by every team. This move of course represented a colossal shift in attitudes towards minorities in major league sports. For the first time in its history, a Major League Baseball team would dress a black player without being dissuaded by the opinions of other members of the team or members of upper management. Such a feat, even a few years earlier, would have seemed unlikely or impossible. But with the defeat of the Nazis in WWII came the supposed defeat of the concept of racial superiority. No longer was it reasonable for a man to be denied the opportunity to play professional sports based on the color of his skin.

Certainly Robinson’s entrance into MLB paved the way for the statistics we see today. According to a 2007 article published by ESPN, non-white baseball players make up approximately 40% of the MLB. This is a trend that continues into other sports. A study done by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport recently found that as of the 2008-09 NBA season, 82% of players were black. Furthermore, USA Today reported that as of 2008, almost two-thirds of NFL players were black. These numbers certainly say something about the state of ethnic diversity in major league sports today. There is, however, one glaring exception to these numbers: only three percent of NHL players are black.

Out of the seven-hundred current skaters on NHL teams, a mere thirty of them are of African-American descent. Some names are household, such as Jarome Iginla or Chris Stewart. Some are younger players, considered to be up-and-comers of their respective franchises, such as PK Subban, Evander Kane, or Wayne Simmonds. The mere presence of these fine players begs the question: where are the rest of them? Why are there so few black hockey players in the NHL?

There are two potential reasons that I intend to investigate. The first is the issue of racism in hockey. I will examine the case of Willie O’Ree and Herbert Carnegie. I intend to disprove the assertions that these men were never given the opportunities they deserved because of racism, by backing up my arguments with a thorough look at their careers and statistics. Although there exists evidence that several other retired black NHL players were subject to racism during their careers, particularly Mike Marson and Bill Riley, their cases will serve as a foil to O’Ree’s and Carnegie’s. The second potential reason that I intend to prove is that the reason there are so few black players in the NHL is an issue of demography. There are a number of reasons young black athletes do not choose to participate in hockey; among them, cost to play and lack of outreach will reign as the two which are most prevalent.

Tune in tomorrow for the next part or whatever.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Forgotten Member of The Oilers Octane Cheer Team!

With the announcement of the first NHL cheer team in Canada, the Oilers Octane, the other night we at Oiler Spill noticed that when constructing the website for the team one member was left out. I assume it is an age thing; at 34 Shelly is the oldest member of the team (though not by as much as you'd think. I'm no expert but at 29 years old would you consider yourself a lifer in the cheerleading industry?). We took it upon ourselves to give Shelly her own bio page, because let's not forget, she is a member of this team too!

Age: 34

Occupation/Post-Secondary program: I am a professional hockey player but unlike a lot of American Hockey League players I don't need a summer job, I make way more money than my peers ;) I'm not studying health care like most of the Octane girls, but you could say I have a lot of experience in that field, especially physical rehabilitation.

Hometown: Elk Point, AB.

Hobbies: Riding buses, punching helmets, taking slap shots, having constant, like every second, communication with team officials while I sit in a hospital bed watching old Baywatch reruns.

Why you love hockey: I guess you could say I love hockey, I mean even though I'm way better than everyone on my team I continue to play even though I know I will not be back in the NHL this season. So maybe it's not that I love hockey, it's that I like getting paid. To be honest I'm still shocked someone was willing to pay me this much ($5.4 million NBD) to play 40 games a season!

Life Lesson: Word is bond. Contracts may be guaranteed but that doesn't mean you can't find ways around them!

Favourite thing about Oil Country: I love how passionate the fans are! I mean when I first arrived they treated me like I never left since I did grow up in Oil Country, now they treat me like they never wanted me to come home. I still don't get what I did wrong :(

Dancing/Cheerleading since: Age 3

Highlights of your dance/cheer experience: Ummm definitely the 2007/08 and 2009/10 seasons. I only got to play 26 and 37 games in those seasons so that gave me a lot of time to practice and work on my moves. Oh yeah and of course making the Oilers Octane Cheer Team. Muuuuuuah!

Cool fact about Shelly: I played Junior hockey in Prince George (bbbbbrrrrrrrrr!). Me and my friend Marty own a restaurant in Montreal. I have a really hard slap shot. I was once married to a former Baywatch hottie. On December 3, 2008, the Stars' broadcast team called me a "Studly Wonderbomb," so yeah I know I'm a hottie! KTHXBYE!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

In response to Eric Francis

This was Eric Francis' tweet last night after the Flames squandered a two-goal first period lead and eventually came out on the positive side of a 3-2 overtime decision. Quite frankly, I see where he is coming from, but it is a little immature. It's no secret that just about anybody who watches more than 25 Flames games a season has been calling for someone's head. Because we all pay to watch the Flames, we're all hockey experts, but our opinions differ. Some want Darryl fired, some would prefer Brent. Some would like to see Ken King get the axe. Personally I think Harvey has got to go.

From the article published today (link here) it is hard to tell which Francis would prefer. But at the root of the tweet is the thought that winning games will only hurt the Flames, because this is not a team that is built to be competitive. Realistically, I'd have a hard time defending that.

You can see its pretty ugly. Obviously Calgary is at the bottom of the Western Conference. If you only looked at this, it might be reasonable to think that Calgary could have a shot at a lottery pick. To those who don't know, a "lottery pick" is considered to one of the top five picks in the draft. The bottom five teams in the league all enter a "lottery" at the end of the season. The team who wins the lottery gets the first overall pick, then the second, and so on. The worse your team does, the better chance they get at winning the first overall pick.

Calgary is (as good as) last in the West. Two points up on the Oilers, but the Oilers have two games in hand etc. It might be reasonable to speculate that because of their standings in the West, this would transfer to a league-wide status. The case is otherwise:

These are the standings for the bottom half of the league. As you can see, Calgary would need to finish between 25-30 to get a lottery pick. They are currently in 22nd place, but more importantly, you need to consider the facts. Realistically, although the bottom five teams all have a shot at the first overall selection, its only the bottom two teams that actually get a chance as the lottery is weighted. I think 30th has a ~44% or something like that, then 29th has around ~20%. Really don't feel like Googling it.

The Devils and Islanders are done. Nobody is going to touch the mess that is going down on Long Island.

My point is: the Flames aren't going to finish below either of these two teams, and therefore won't really have a shot at the top pick. If you're not going to shoot for the top pick, why would you try to lose? They might as well come out and be competitive every night and at least give people a reason to watch the team play.

This is now on Youtube:

(so is this one)

I agree that management needs to be held accountable for their actions. But until there is a real plan in place, in terms of what direction and what kind of structure this franchise is going to have, nothing should be done. I'll still watch Calgary play every night. Does that make me an irrational consumer? Maybe. I won't let that bother me though. I still know that night in and out the Flames have a chance to win every game they play. Its the hope that keeps me coming back for more.

 I'm going to Flames/Leafs on Thursday night. I am really unsure what to do about Phaneuf. The first thing I thought was to boo him. But then I sat back and thought about it. He didn't really do anything to Calgary, or to the Flames, to hurt them. I mean, Darryl Sutter straight up lied to his face. He issued a press release that said Dion Phaneuf would not be traded, then traded him like ten days later. Looking back at that trade is absurd now. Mayers is gone, Stajan is a healthy scratch, and White got traded for Babchuk and Kostopolous. So that trade was pretty much Phaneuf and Keith Aulie for Nik Hagman. My god.

I'll be posing the question on Twitter, so tweet at me with suggestions (@rshillin). Also make sure you follow @TheRealDanMoser too. When he's not writing about corsi and qualcomp stats he says some funny shit. The guy can't help it, he loves the stats.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Leenus Oh Leenus Omark

Basically I am being lazy. These videos are fun and easy to make. I find the robotic voices awesome, and I think this is how the Black Eyed Peas make music now. Really the only downside is that if you watch too many of them you start to think in that voice. It is getting weird. Enjoy.

The video was getting too long but really I have no idea how Linus Omark will do when he gets some game action. Here are some other reasons I'm not too excited:
  1. The guy makes Sam Gagner look like a giant
  2. The only reason he is on the big club right now is because more important players are hurt
  3. Some Oiler fans are using this H.O.P.E. thing where each letter stands for one of the kids names, Hall, Eberle, etc. If hope is really four rookie forwards these fans are in for a shock. For me hope includes some d-men and a goalie.
Blog over.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Flames win game; 2004 Stanley Cup

I think we might be romanticizing that run a little bit...
Remember Alyn McCauley??

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Flames: An Introspective

You didn't think I was gonna let Moser have all the fun on his own did you?

I could see these videos getting out of hand. Especially now that it's exam break.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Candid Conversation Between an Oilers Fan and a Flames Fan

Something I whipped up quickly.
Let's call it Shilling vs Moser V1

State of the Union

Hoooo boy, that is a long way down for the Calgary Flames.

Allow me to put things as such: The Edmonton Oilers have declared that they are a rebuilding club. They have asked for their fanbase to have patience while they blew up the team, decided to build through the draft, etc. In the interests of full disclosure, the Oilers made the decision to announce to their fans that things just weren't working out.

The Calgary Flames have gone on the record, time and time again, saying that they believe that they are
1. a playoff team
2. expecting to compete for the Stanley Cup.

The Edmonton Oilers are in 14th place. The Calgary Flames are in 15th place. And nobody seems to see anything wrong with this.

Even though the Flames are in dead last place in the entire Western Conference, there is a way to spin things. Calgary is only five points out of the 8th playoff spot. Accounting for the teams ahead of them winning some games as well, Calgary is only one four or five game winning streak from clawing their way back into the playoff scene. Certainly that isn't impossible.

Also, if you've been watching these games, the Flames haven't looked too too bad on that many nights in a row. I feel like there have been some games that simply got away from the team, as well as what is the worst road trip of all time, ever, that really didn't help out the situation. Even so, they came out with some points against teams they probably didn't deserve to beat.

Calgary plays tonight, in Chicago, and a win would be fantastic obviously. Tuesday there is a home game against Tampa Bay, then they hit the road for back-to-back road games in LA and Anaheim (watch this entire video). Four games in a week, three on the road. If Calgary beats the Ducks and another team (hopefully one of LA or Chicago) and loses the other two games (TB and LA/CHI)...things don't get much better, but at least they'll be floating, more or less.

The week of the 12th is pretty much make or break, in that case. Home games against Columbus, Toronto, and Minnesota all need to be won in order to have a chance in hell of staying alive this season.


 Do not blow up this team.

When I watch Flames games, I do not feel the same sense of helplessness I do when I watch other rebuilding clubs such as the Oilers. Yes I am aware the Oilers have won four in a row and that I am probably going to end up having to buy Dan Moser a Taylor Hall jersey. Seriously, the Flames are not that bad. They still have the best goaltender in the league. Their defense is pretty damn good until you get to the Fab 4 of Staios/Sarich/Mikkelson/Babchuk. And the offensive players aren't complete shit either. Hagman is starting to get it together, Iggy doesn't look completely lost, hell even Backlund is skating really well. Alex Tanguay could not record a point the rest of the season and he would already be worth his contract. 

And doesn't your mouth salivate at the prospect of watching a line of Jokinen/Kotalk/Kostopolous?
(I hadn't made a joke in a while).

To blow up this team would be a mess. Who is going to be in charge? Jay Feaster? The guy who decided to give Lecavalier $10 million a season? Please. If ownership decides to blow this thing up, there needs to be a definite plan in place. Don't roll out naked, bring an uzi.

This team should be good enough to win games. Quite frankly, I still feel like there is a 40% chance that the Flames can still make the playoffs. And I would rather take a 40% chance every year of making the playoffs than take the risk of toiling away at the bottom of the league for years. Everybody talks about how Chicago drafted Kane 1st overall in 2007 then won a cup in 2010. Do people just forget that Chicago was atrocious for years before that? I don't have the patience to put up with that BS in Calgary. 

Here are some Henrik Karlsson .gifs to take your mind off what is happening on the ice (courtesy of Lorne Tucker's kid):

Some kinda backup.