William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past seven years. Douglas joined NHL.com in March and will be writing about people of color in the game. Today, he profiles Ryerson University hockey player Kryshanda Green and her grandfather, former NHL forward Bill Riley.
Kryshanda Green already made one comeback. Her grandfather persuaded her to make another.
Green, a forward for Ryerson University in Toronto, was considering not playing this season, thinking she was too old at 26 for Canadian college hockey.
“I was just a little concerned about whether I would be able to keep up, what my impact was going to be, the dynamic in the dressing room,” she said. “My grandad spoke to me and made me see the light a little bit better.”
Riley’s message to his granddaughter: Get a grip.
“I said, ‘Listen, Kryshanda, Pop-Pop was in his 30s when Steve Larmer, Steve Ludzik and all those guys came in as 19-year-olds, played for us in the American Hockey League [for the New Brunswick Hawks], and looked up to me in the highest kind of way because of the leadership skills I displayed for them,'” he said, “I said, ‘These girls that are coming in, they will look up to you for eternity for all the things that you will help them with, so don’t think you’re too old to play.'”
Green took her grandad’s advice, and she’s glad she did. She’s captain of the Ryerson team this season and she’ll end her collegiate career as the university’s all-time leader in goals and points.
She has 74 points (33 goals, 41 assists) in 85 games. Green will also finish among the university’s leaders in assists, game-winning goals and power-play goals.
“Pretty proud, makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck,” Riley said. “I’m over the moon with what’s going on with her life right now and her career.”
Green’s success didn’t come easy. She quit hockey after playing her freshman season in 2012-13 at Western University in London, Ontario, where she finished with 21 points (nine goals, 13 assists) in 26 games and earned Ontario Athletics All-Rookie Team honors. But her on-ice performance didn’t carry over to the classroom. Hitting the books wasn’t a priority, and Green left the university after that season, breaking her 69-year-old grandfather’s heart.
“He was flabbergasted. He couldn’t believe it,” she said. “He wasn’t too happy. “Every time we spoke to each other he said, ‘You gotta get back to the game, you gotta get back to the game.'”
Green didn’t play hockey for two years. She filled the void by collaborating with Toronto-area hip-hop artists and becoming the rapper known as Krash. She performed around town and even released a video and extended play recording titled “Bankrupt For Quality” four years ago. But as much as she tried to deny it, Green missed hockey and wanted to give college another try.
“I think it’s the [most fun] game in the world, and I missed all the bonds, the connections I made and just playing the game,” she said. “It was very hard for me to accept the way I left the game. What made my decision in wanting to go back to school is an opportunity to just try to finish the story in a different way.”
Ryerson coach Lisa Haley remembered seeing Green play junior hockey and contacted her about a second chance. Green enrolled at Ryerson as a redshirt transfer in 2015. She didn’t play a single game that season so she could focus on her studies.
“I think both Krash and I would agree that we were optimistic that this could be the outcome, but we were both realistic that this was a risk,” said Haley, who was an assistant for Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics. “She’s coming back to school much older than a lot of her teammates. It didn’t go very well for her the first time with the student-athlete life. It was definitely a roll of the dice on both ends.”
It was a roll Green wanted to take, especially when she learned that she could wear the No. 8, the number Riley wore with the Capitals from 1976-79, decades before Alex Ovechkin earned the nickname “The Great Eight.”
“When I came back, I was thinking going back the number I had at Western  but I suddenly changed my mind because I was just looking at a picture of my grandfather one day at my mom’s place and it struck a chord with me,” she said. “My grandfather is like a huge influence on me, he’s very inspiring. I know he dealt with a lot of adversity. His situation is something that I can be very proud of.”
Riley, who had 61 points (31 goals, 30 assists) in 139 NHL games for the Capitals and Winnipeg Jets, jokes that he left a lot of goals in that Washington jersey for Ovechkin.
He said he was choked up about Green wearing his number but also issued a grandfatherly challenge to her.
“‘He said, ‘You better earn that number. You better do something with that number if you’re going to wear it,'” Green said.
She responded by putting up 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 2016-17 and finishing 10th in the OUA in scoring. She had six multipoint games and led Ryerson with three power-play goals that season.
Green was an OUA Second-Team All-Star last season after finishing with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in 24 games. She was also a finalist for Ryerson’s H.H. Kerr Female Athlete of the Year award.
“I’ve learned that I’m resilient and that I’m not a quitter, and that’s important to me,” Green said. “That no-quit attitude that’s the biggest thing for me because there are a lot of challenges in life in every area and I want to make sure that I’m not going to quit in those moments.”
Green hasn’t figured out what she’s going to do when she completes her studies at Ryerson. She has already earned her undergraduate degree in politics and governance from the university and is working toward a graduate certificate in criminal justice.
Whether she continues in hockey as a professional player or coach or puts her degrees to use, Haley is certain that Green will succeed in whatever she chooses.
“I think she’s a tremendous success story of someone who needed a second chance, was given it and has made the most of it,” Haley said. “If it’s being a rapper or being the next prime minister of Canada, I think she’s capable of either one of those things.”
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)