Seven current and former NHL players announced Monday they have formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which has a mission “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.”
The group appointed San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu as co-heads of the organization. Named to the group’s executive committee were Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, Buffalo Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris Stewart and former NHL forward Joel Ward.
The group will operate independently of the NHL, but Kim Davis, the League’s senior vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs, said she hopes the NHL and alliance can work together.
“We are supportive of all efforts that are intended to advance the role of our sport in society,” 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.”
The Hockey Diversity Alliance is the latest example of current and former NHL players speaking out against racism and racial injustice since George Floyd, a black man, died May 25 while in police custody in Minneapolis. A white police officer has been charged with second-degree murder, and the other three officers on the scene have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
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NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined a number of players and other members of the hockey community, including Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl in a video titled “In Union There is Strength,” to support racial equality. The video was created by former NHL forward and current NBC Sports hockey analyst Anson Carter.
Davis recently said more than 100 players have expressed their thoughts on the subject on social media, and she has been texting and speaking with a lot of players.
“All of this outreach has been initiated by the players, who have a lot of ideas about how to create stronger player-to-player opportunities,” Davis said. “And I think that’s what I’m probably most encouraged by, the calls where players … You know, not everybody’s going to tweet. Not everybody’s going to be comfortable using social media as the way that they express their point of view with the current situations. But lots of ideas bubbling up from players.”
The NHL was already in the process of creating the Executive Inclusion Council, which will receive recommendations from three committees representing different stakeholders — the Player Inclusion Committee, the Fan Inclusion Committee and the Youth Inclusion Committee.
The Executive Inclusion Council will consist of five owners, five presidents and two general managers of NHL teams. Davis said the members have accepted their invitations, and their names will be announced within a couple of weeks, with the first meeting to be held in July.
The Player Inclusion Committee will consist of current and former NHL players, plus female players from Canada and the United States; the Fan Inclusion Committee of chief marketing officers of NHL teams and partners with which the NHL has worked in the multicultural space; and the Youth Inclusion Committee of parents and leaders of youth hockey organizations, including Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.
Another goal of the Hockey Diversity Alliance is to promote diversity at all levels of the game.
“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.”