Akim Aliu has message for NHL after feeling “betrayed and confused” by its latest decision

Akim Aliu has message for NHL after feeling “betrayed and confused” by its latest decision

This is going to create such a mess!



The Hockey Diversity Alliance claims the NHL is late to the party as Akim Aliu explained in a statement how the members of HDA feel betrayed and confused by the league’s decision to launch, or as HDA puts it, re-launch an inclusion committee to diversify the sport and make hockey more welcoming.

The NHL and its Players’ Association recently announced the formation of a 20-player committee of current and former players, chaired by NHL players Anson Carter and P.K. Subban, and earmarked $1 million to support grassroots organizations, player-perspective storytelling and other special projects. The NHL notes the coalition being formed in 2020, but never mentions the HDA, which was specifically referenced in a similar announcement made in September of that year.

In a scathing statement released on Wednesday by Aliu and the HDA, the Alliance wonders why the NHL is essentially duplicating what they’ve been doing by funnelling millions into programs at the grassroots level and introducing hockey to at-risk youths in under-served communities of color?

As the NHL has done so many times, they’re late to the party, and they still want to show that they want to be involved in the dance,” Aliu, a veteran who played in a handful of NHL games, told The Associated Press. “This is their way of showing that this is their bigger and better thing. But I think everyone that’s on the inside of hockey knows what’s really going on and really knows that this is just another façade.”

“Fundamentally, I think we have a very, very strong structure and a foundation in place,” HDA founder and Calgary Flames center Nazem Kadri also told AP. “We did that without the league. I don’t think they necessarily would’ve expected us to get to this trajectory by ourselves, but when you have a group of guys that are really passionate and really care about the cause, not necessarily just the media attention it’s going to get, you can get to the next level and we can really impact the minority communities.”

Aliu and Kadri's comments echo what was said in the statement published on Wednesday morning by the HDA, which also includes Evander Kane, Matt Dumba and Anthony Duclair.

“It’s a disappointment, but not a surprise that the NHL announced the formation of a `players inclusion coalition,’” the HDA’s statement reads.

“Laudable on its face, laughable in full context of the work we have been doing for three years without the league’s support,” it keeps reading. “The NHL’s players coalition’s mission statement does not echo the HDA’s goals so much as cynically attempt to appropriate them.”

Aliu, who believes the rift between the HDA and NHL stems from HDA members being unafraid to speak out and challenge the league to action, said the HDA’s criticism is directed at the NHL and not toward inclusion coalition members.

“I truly hope they do good work this time around, but I am tired of of hearing empty announcements and photo ops to check a box instead of actually doing the hard work,” Aliu said. “My only message is don’t allow yourselves to be used by the league because that’s really what’s going to stall our movement.”

The NHL and the players’ union did not immediately responded to a message seeking comment to the HDA’s statement.

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