On Monday, seven current and former NHL players announced the formation of the much-needed Hockey Diversity Alliance.
While this necessary group will doubtlessly be met with the usual guffaws and snide remarks from the usual suspects on social media and beyond, hockey’s need to address issues of racism and intolerance is well-documented.
The group will be led by Evander Kane and Akim Aliu. On the executive committee are Detroit Red Wings defenceman Trevor Daley, Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba, Buffalo Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris Stewart, and former NHL forward Joel Ward.
While the group operates independently of the NHL, it has the full support of the league.
“We are supportive of all efforts that are intended to advance the role of our sport in society,” NHL senior vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs Kim Davis said. “We are hopeful that this alliance will collaborate with our NHL structured council and committees – particularly the Player Inclusion Committee – to bring ideas for change.”
Aliu has been among several NHLers to voice concerns about racism in the game, but the protests in the United States and around the world following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers has brought the issue to the fore – again.
This time, it seems action is underway in various aspects of the world and the sport of hockey is seeking to address the issue as well. More then 100 NHL players have spoken up since the passing of Floyd, but issues of racism have long plagued hockey. There are many reasons for that.
“I think hockey, unfortunately, has a different culture than some of the other sports in terms of speaking out and using your voice and speaking your mind,” Kane said during an appearance on ESPN’s First Take. “I think, for me, I’m one of the anomalies when it comes to NHL players and doing that. That’s another part of our problem is guys being scared to really speak their mind and stand up for what is right.”
The NHL, to its credit, is in the process of creating the Executive Inclusion Council. This organization will liaison with different groups like the Player Inclusion Committee, the Fan Inclusion Committee, and the Youth Inclusion Committee. Five owners, five team presidents and two general managers will be on the Executive Inclusion Council.
“In creating our alliance, we are confident we can inspire a new generation of hockey players and fans,” it said in a statement. “We are hopeful that anyone who puts on skates or sits in the stands will do so without worrying about race, gender or socioeconomic background (and) will be able to express their culture, identity, values and personality without fear of retribution.”