Earlier today San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane unveiled the newly formed Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) with current and former NHLers Akim Aliu, Trevor Daley, Anthony Duclair, Matt Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and Joel Ward.
Check it out:
The HDA’s stated purées is to “eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey” and frankly, it doesn’t sound like the group is too satisfied with standing by while the NHL tries to eradicate racism from the sport. Aside from a few token “#BLM” posts on social media, the NHL has done very little to help support diversity amongst its fanbase.
“The NHL can put ‘Black Lives Matter’ all over the rink, shout ‘Black Lives Matter’ from the mountains,” Kane said earlier this week in a phone interview with TSN’s Frank Seravalli.. “No matter what they do or say, it’s all going to fall on deaf ears with me and every other person in the HDA because the league has made no effort to support its own Black players.”
When NHL players hit the ice for “real” games this weekend, the league will unveil its #WeSkateFor campaign in which players will be able to fill in the blank on their helmets as to what they stand for. When the NHL introduced the initiative last week, the examples the league cited were #WeSkateFor frontline workers, #WeSkateFor nurses, #WeSkateFor Colby Cave, #WeSkateFor equality and #WeSkateFor Black Lives Matter.
To Kane and the rest of the HDA, this only serves to complicate things.
“We support all of those issues and we always have,” Kane said. “But this is the NHL’s campaign to talk about our issue. They’re trying to wrap all of these separate issues – including mental health, LGTBQ, women’s rights, everything – into one, when our message is about racism. It completely yet again misses the mark and is so out of touch with what we’re talking about.”
Kane also says that the HDA was not consulted on the initiative.
“Seriously, one of the #WeSkateFor things in a presentation was '#WeSkateFor These Moments.’ I’m not even kidding,” Kane said. “It’s disappointing the lack of interest we’re facing in addressing systemic racism in our sport.”
“It’s a start,” fellow HDA member Matt Dumba said in a phone interview. “But each team is going to say and do something different. Does that address the issues behind it? I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
Dumba locked arms with Colorado Avalanche forward and fellow HDA member Nazem Kadri prior to the players’ exhibition game last night in a show of solidarity. Afterward Kadri spoke about the initiative saying, “We’re all trying to make it better. We’re trying to make the game more diverse and the diversity in the game doesn’t happen with racism still going on. So that’s an important thing for us to address. As players we have addressed that. From a league standpoint, you know, I think we’d like to see a little bit more acknowledgement and having them address the situation and know that they stand with their players.”
Kane and the HDA have proposed a number of reforms from the league’s head office including a $10 million annual operating budget to fund grassroots programs across the United States and Canada.