Brandon Manning

Boko Imama fought Brandon Manning in first AHL meeting since racist incident

Bokondji “Boko” Imama and Brandon Manning dropped the gloves during their first AHL meeting since Manning was suspended five games for uttering a racial slur at Imama. As you can see from the video above, Imama ended up winning that fight with Manning.

Imama wins fight with Manning, has quite the night

Imama didn’t just win that fight; his team also won the game. In fact, Imama’s Ontario Reign set a franchise record by beating Manning’s Bakersfield Condors 10-3.

Imama generated a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, assist, and that fight. With all of that in mind, it’s not too surprising to see Imama beaming (and distracted) in a postgame interview:

Imama didn’t directly address the Manning fight there, but perhaps he felt that his Jan. 22 statement was enough? Manning apologized via a statement on Jan. 21, noting that he had a chance to speak with Imama after the incident.

Of course, no win (in a fight or a game) erases what Manning said to Imama. It also won’t silence critics who believe that a five-game suspension wasn’t enough. Racism remains a problem in hockey, at the AHL and NHL levels, and beyond.

How NHL, AHL has handled past incidents, and potential future approaches

After all, we are only a few months removed from Bill Peters resigning as Calgary Flames head coach after Akim Aliu shared details about Peters’ racist remarks from their AHL past.

There have been several incidents that became public at the NHL level, too. Chris Simon was suspended three games for using a racial slur toward Mike Grier in 1997. The league suspended Krys Barch for an alleged comment toward P.K. Subban (one Barch denied). Players have also faced plenty of ugly racist incidents involving fans.

Back in December, the NHL detailed how it may handle future moments that “cross the line.” Time will tell if those changes end up being meaningful — Aliu seemed optimistic after a talk — but hopefully Friday gave Imama a measure of closure.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

AHL suspends Brandon Manning 5 games for using racial slur

Brandon Manning
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The American Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has suspended Bakersfield Condors defenseman Brandon Manning five games for using a racial slur toward an opponent during their game against the Ontario Reign on Monday night.

The Condors are the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers.

Manning, currently in his second year with the organization, appeared in nine games with the Oilers this season and has played in 10 games for Bakersfield.

Both he and the Oilers organization released statements on Tuesday.

First, here is Keith Gretzky, the current general manager of the Condors and assistant general manager of the Oilers:

“We are aware of an unacceptable comment directed toward an Ontario Reign player by Bakersfield Condors defensemen Brandon Manning during last night’s game. This is a very serious matter, we are disappointed by Brandon’s comment and we fully support the American Hockey League’s decision. The Oilers and Condors organizations wholeheartedly believe in a respectful workplace and will work to better educate our players on appropriate conduct on and off the ice.”

And from Manning:

“Last night I made comments to an opposing player that were stupid and offensive. After the game I spoke with the opposing player in person, which I’m very grateful for. He allowed me to apologize and I took full responsibility for what I said.”

“To say I’ve learned from this situation is an understatement and I promise to be better.”

The incident apparently happened early in the second period of Bakersfield’s 3-0 loss. The Edmonton Journal‘s post-game recap on Monday night noted the physical nature of the game and the altercation that resulted in Manning being ejected.

It was a hard-hitting, at times dirty affair that featured a number of heavy hits and plenty of after-the-whistle altercations. Three of them resulted in the departure of Bakersfield veterans, notably Brandon Manning who received a game misconduct six minutes into the second period after an altercation with abrasive winger Bokondji Imama, who spent much of the night getting under the skin of various Condors. Manning took the bait, and according to the official gamesheet was ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct under AHL Rule 75.5(ii), which states:

Any player who uses obscene gestures on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game. The Referee shall report the circumstance to the President of the League for further disciplinary action. Any player assessed a game misconduct under this section shall automatically be suspended for the next two (2) regularly scheduled games of his team.

Now the question that has to be asked: Is five games enough of a punishment for this? It’s obviously more than the automatic two-game ban that AHL rules call for, but given the ongoing fight to combat racism in professional hockey it seems like it is barely a slap on the wrist. We are just a couple of months removed from Bill Peters resigning as coach of the Calgary Flames after it was revealed that he used a racial slur against Akim Aliu when Peters coached him in the AHL. Now this happens during a game.

In the past, former Washington Capitals forward Chris Simon was suspended three games at the NHL level for a racial slur directed at Mike Grier during the 1997 season, while Krys Barch received one game for a similar incident during the 2011-12 season.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was suspended one game for directing a homophobic slur toward an opponent during the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf was fined $10,000 for a similar incident during the 2017 playoffs.

UPDATE: On Wednesday the Kings released the following statement from Boko Imama.

“I have taken some time to reflect on what transpired on the ice against Bakersfield on Monday night,” Imama said. “What happened is unfortunate for everyone. No matter how intense or heated a game gets, there is no room for this in our game and no excuse. I am very proud to be an African Canadian hockey player and to stand for all other players that are in the same situation as me.”

“I would like to thank the Los Angeles Kings and Ontario Reign, Edmonton Oilers and Bakersfield Condors for their professionalism in helping me handle this situation. Last but not least, I cannot thank my family and friends for their continued love and support.”

“At this time, I will not make any further statements or comments and I would very much appreciate if those wishes were respected.”

UPDATE 2/8/20: Manning and Imama dropped the gloves in Manning’s first game back. Here’s the story.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Oilers not happy with Hertl’s hit on McDavid

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Even in late 2019, it’s a little bit odd to see Brandon Manning stand up for Connor McDavid. You know, after that.

The two have been Edmonton Oilers teammates for a while now, and Manning did just that on Tuesday, dropping the gloves with Barclay Goodrow of the San Jose Sharks after Tomas Hertl delivered a controversial neutral zone hit on McDavid.

You can watch Hertl’s hit, McDavid’s reaction, and the ensuing fight in the video above this post’s headline.

The early signs are that McDavid avoided an injury (at least one significant enough to make him miss immediate action), as he finished the game. McDavid logged four third-period shifts after that incident in the second period, so that’s a decent sign that the Oilers my have avoided the bullet of a lower-body injury.

Then again, he seemingly left in a hurry after the Sharks beat the Oilers 6-3, so we’ll see.

What do you think of Hertl’s hit, though? For what it’s worth, Hertl received a minor penalty for interference on the play.

MORE:
• Pro Hockey Talk’s Stanley Cup picks.
• Your 2019-20 NHL on NBC TV schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Flyers sign Swiss defenseman Marti

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The Flyers have added another young defensive prospect to the mix, signing Swiss blueliner Christian Marti to an entry-level deal.

Marti, 22, joins the Flyers after two seasons in the Swiss National League A with club side Geneve-Servette. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he’s got good size and showed some offensive flair during his one and only season of junior hockey in Quebec two years ago, scoring 35 points in 46 games for QMJHL Blainville-Boisbriand.

Marti also represented Switzerland at the 2012 World Juniors in Alberta.

It’ll be interesting to see where Marti fits in the Flyers system. The club has seven NHL d-men under contract for next season — Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Nick Schultz, and Radko Gudas — while Michael Del Zotto is a pending restricted free agent.

Highly-touted draftees Samuel Morin, Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg could also push for roster spots.

Flyers re-sign Manning — what will Philly’s blue line look like next year?

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The Philadelphia Flyers have re-signed defenseman Brandon Manning to a one-year contract extension, the club announced today.

It’s a one-way, $625,000 deal for the 24-year-old, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.

Manning, who’s spent most of 2014-15 in the AHL, has played 10 games for the Flyers this season. He has no goals and three assists.

The Flyers now have seven NHL d-men under contract for next season — Manning, Mark Streit, Andrew MacDonald, Luke Schenn, Nicklas Grossmann, Nick Schultz, and Radko Gudas — while Michael Del Zotto is a pending restricted free agent.

The Flyers also have a handful of defensive prospects who could push to make the team next season, so don’t be shocked if we see a trade or two this summer.