EDMONTON, Alberta — Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba became the first NHL player to kneel during the United States’ national anthem when he did so prior to Saturday's game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Oilers in Edmonton.
Blackhawks goaltender Malcolm Subban and Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse, who are both Black Canadians, each put a hand on Dumba's shoulders during the anthem. Dumba is also Canadian.
"During this pandemic, something unexpected but long overdue occurred: The world woke up to the existence of systemic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society," Dumba, 26, said in a passionate speech. "Racism is a man-made creation and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere. Racism is everywhere and we need to fight against it.
"On behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, we vow and promise to stand up for justice and fight for what is right. I know first-hand as a minority playing the great game of hockey the unexplainable and difficult challenges that come with it. The Hockey Diversity Alliance and the NHL want kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter an arena. I stand in front of you today on behalf of those groups and promise you that we will fight against injustice and fight for what is right."
The Hockey Diversity Alliance is a contingent of current and former NHL players with a mission "to eradicate racism and intolerance" in the sport. The organization was formed in June in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.
Akim Aliu and Evander Kane serve as the co-founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, while Dumba, Trevor Daley, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and Joel Ward are members of the executive committee.