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Happy eighth night of Hanukkah everyone.
As we sit here, two days before Christmas, and all through the house … Jewish boys (like yours truly) and girls will have their menorahs lit – full with all eight candles!
But alas, with 11 games in the NHL schedule some Jewish hockey players will be unable to spin the dreidel and eat latkes.
After doing some digging, we found that, well, there aren’t a whole heck of a lot of Jewish players in the NHL.
Maybe some are Jewish, but haven’t exactly announced their faith yet? Or maybe there just aren't a lot in the NHL ... at least on the ice.
I remember as a young boy, being given “Great Jews in Sports” for Hanukkah by my grandmother – and the book was more of an homage to Sandy Koufax. There was not a ton of hockey represented. This very much motivated me to become a hockey ... writer.
With this blog post, it is our solemn goal to bring awareness to this issue – kind of like Adam Sandler’s quest in the Hanukkah Song to give a ‘list of people who are Jewish … ‘
Below is our ‘Hanukkah All-Stars’
(Side note: We asked the NHLPA if it had a list of players who are Jewish. There was not. Our research came from scouring interviews from online publications. Players who were referenced as Jewish were quoted via the below linked websites.)
The Devils forward is probably the most offensive of the group. According to the website Haaretz, he is the Jewish all-time leader in NHL goals. Yup, this is a thing. Last season he eclipsed the ‘mark’ held by former Montreal Canadien Mathieu Schneider. Cammalleri currently has 247. But he has a long way to go to Schneider’s 743 points, which leads all Members of the Tribe. Cammalleri currently has 517 points.
The Predators forward would provide energy and leadership to the group. According to an April 2013 story in the Canadian Jewish News, Nystrom was a coach for the United States team in that summer’s Maccabiah Games in Israel. Said Nystrom in the story about coaching in Israel, “It’s a great opportunity to do something so unique, something connected to hockey.”
The Minnesota forward has Hebrew tattoos on his body. And at least as of 2012, he wore a Star of David around his neck, according to the Jewish Herald-Voice. Said Zucker, “I’ve worn it for four years now, and I never take it off … I haven’t come across too many Jewish hockey players, so I know it’s not the biggest community. But, I’m proud to be Jewish and hopefully it is something Jewish kids can look up to.” Currently he’s having a career year with 16 points in 31 games.
We may have to move the Maple Leafs forward to defense, simply based on supply and demand. However, according to the Canadian Jewish News, Smith’s father was an assistant coach for Team Canada in the Maccabiah games in 2013. Smith, however was hurt and just signed a contract with Toronto. So he decided to not be Canada’s ringer. Smith once went to the country on a Birthright trip. “What a beautiful country,” he was quoted in the story. “I’d love to go back.”
The Sharks forward has 345 games under his belt and 679 penalty minutes. Translation nobody is going to push this team around. Said Brown to jweekly.com in an article published last April, “My family wasn’t too religious … but I did have my bar mitzvah. Both of my parents are Jewish.”
We need a defenseman in this group. The Stars blueliner has declined an interview requests from Canadian Jewish News and jweekly.com in the past to talk about his heritage. Either way, he needs to embrace it if it exists, because you can’t win with five forwards and no defensemen.
‘Sounds like a tribesman’
(A celebration of players who, for stereotypical last name's sake, should be Jewish)
This group lacks a true scorer outside of Cammalleri. Even if the Blues forward isn’t Jewish, he can at least pass as one because of his last name … and since his 27 points in 31 games is pretty awesome.
The New York Rangers defenseman is not Jewish. But this team needs two-way defensemen and he’s having an awesome year with seven goals and a plus-12 rating.
The St. Louis Blues forward is one 'i" away from Stein, which would increase our Jewdar to DEFCON 1.
The Devils goaltender is also not Jewish according to the website jewornotjew.com. Seriously, such URLs exist? That. Is. Awesome. Schneider can at least fit the goaltending bill until a real MOT comes along.
Is there a more obvious choice than the Washington Capitals goaltending coach?
Commissioner Gary Bettman, NHLPA head Donald Fehr and Mathieu Schneider, who is now a PA exec will have to collectively bargain who will be the general manager, assistant general manager and director of player personnel. Our money is on Fehr, who kind of like Moses, united his band of people (players) to fight a powerful overlord (Bettman) and parted the Red Sea (owners) to bring Israel (again #theplayers) to the land of Canaan -- or a better CBA.
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