The National Hockey League returned to the ice on Saturday touting support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Before the puck drop at the Chicago Blackhawks-Edmonton Oilers game, one of the firsts of the postseason, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba said that hockey, while already a great sport, can be “a lot greater” if players and fans work to end racism.
“During this pandemic something unexpected but long overdue occurred,” Dumba said on the ice at Rogers Place. “The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is in our society.”
The defenseman, who spoke on behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, went on to directly address to those who feel that the Black Lives Matter movement and calls for justice for victims of police violence have gone on for too long.
“Racism is a man made creation and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere and we need to fight against it,” he continued. The Minnesota Wild player then took a knee during the national anthem, becoming the first NHL player to do so.
Dumba’s speech and the NHL’s powerful Saturday moment came days after the NBA had a similar showing of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. During Thursday’s NBA season restart, players of the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans took a knee during the national anthem.
In early July it was announced that NHL games and training camps will be held in the sport’s two “hub cities” of Toronto and Edmonton, AB as part of the sport’s reopening plans. In addition to having players in either of the two designated cities, reopening the sport also includes new protocol such as limiting teams to 50 personnel in the selected cities.