Ontario Reign

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.

Bissonnette signs a one-year deal with Kings’ affiliate

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Paul Bissonnette has assured himself this summer won’t be like last year.

The 30-year-old has signed a one-year contract with the Ontario Reign – the new AHL affiliate of the L.A. Kings.

“I’m happy about it. It’s good to be returning back to some familiar faces,” Bissonnette told PHT on Wednesday. “I’m very happy and excited to be headed to California.”

At this time last year the Welland, Ontario native was without a contract and considering an offer to play with the Cardiff Devils of the British Elite Ice Hockey League.

He admitted last month that the stress of not having a contract to play in North America at the start of the hockey season caused him to deal “with a bit of depression”.

Bissonnette eventually signed a professional tryout agreement with the AHL’s Portland Pirates.

After being released by the Pirates in December, Bissonnette signed a deal with the Manchester Monarchs – the L.A. Kings affiliate. The veteran of 202 NHL games scored one goal and six assists to go along with 167 penalty minutes in 48 games with the Monarchs.

He also appeared in 11 playoff games as Manchester captured the Calder Cup.

“It was pretty special, especially after a tough start to the year,” Bissonnette said. “It was a good way to finish out and kind of look at it in a positive light.”

Photo courtesy of Paul Bissonnette.

Kings’ Clifford joins ECHL Ontario Reign

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L.A. Kings forward Kyle Clifford got tired of not playing hockey but didn’t want to go far away to play during the lockout. Luckily for him, the Ontario Reign play in California and were happy to welcome him into the fold.

The Reign announced they’ve signed Clifford to play for them during the NHL lockout. Coincidentally enough, they’re the ECHL affiliate of the Kings so he’s not even straying from the organization, never mind Southern California.

At 21 years-old, Clifford wouldn’t seem like a natural candidate to be locked out of playing in the AHL, but he’s spent the last two seasons with the Kings as their tough-guy forward racking up a total of 264 penalty minutes over 157 games. He likely won’t have a hard time looking for people to dance with in the ECHL if the mood strikes him.