*This current world reckoning on race sparked by the police killing of George Floyd has led to perhaps the most serious effort to date by the National Hockey League to address racism within the predominantly white sport.
The league and NHL Players’ Association are planning mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all players at camp; partnering with the Hockey Diversity Alliance to launch a grassroots program for young players of color in the Toronto area; and working together on several inclusion committees aimed at encouraging diversity among executives, pro and youth players and fans.
“We applaud NHL players for recognizing the importance of this moment and for coming together as part of a genuine movement for change,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We look forward to working with all voices of change to fight for equality and broaden access to the game we all love.”
Colorado’s Nazem Kadri, a founding member of the alliance that was formed earlier this summer, reviewed the initiatives before they were announced and believes they show progress.
“Being a part of the HDA, we tried to lay out certain policies and initiatives that affect the grassroots program and the whole education process,” Kadri said. “One of the first things we need to do is start educating the youth, the players, the staff, so it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
These corrective moves come eight months after Nigerian born Canadian former player Akim Aliu brought the topic to the forefront with allegations that his former Calgary Flames coach Bill Peters used racist language toward him in the minors. Peters resigned from his job with Calgary, and the league began moving toward addressing racism in hockey.
Aliu told The Associated Press recently that he and other members of the HDA wanted to see the league do tangible things to make a difference. He brought up having NHL-controlled arenas serve as polling stations, something the NBA agreed to do. The two leagues share some buildings.
“The other thing is a money commitment,” Aliu said. “The NHL has to come up with the money for the Black and brown community.”
Below, the Hockey Diversity Alliance has its first public meeting. All nine members sat down virtually to explain why the group is necessary and talk about being minorities in a predominantly white sport. Participants include co-founders Aliu and San Jose Sharks forward, Evander Kane. Also joining were Kadri of the Colorado Avalanche, Buffalo Sabres forward, Wayne Simmonds, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Minnesota Wild defenseman, Matt Dumba, Philadelphia Flyers forward, Chris Stewart, Ottawa Senators forward, Anthony Duclair, and retired NHL player, Joel Ward. The conversation is moderated by Canadian film director and former pro hockey player, Charles Officer.