“It made me cry”: former Oiler shocked to see NHL stars supporting fight against racism

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Former NHL defender Mark Fraser has struggled with his emotions for the past two weeks.

Fraser said he watched in horror last Monday as George Floyd struggled for almost nine minutes as a Minneapolis police officer put his knee on Floyd’s neck while in detention.

Floyd, 46, died in police custody.

Like millions of others, Fraser has been watching the fallout on television and online since.

He was also surprised by the response of some of the biggest NHL superstars who spoke out against Floyd’s death on their social platforms and made statements urging people to end racism.

“First of all, it made me cry, I’ll say it. That’s how it hit me, “Fraser told CBC from his home in Ottawa.

“Reading their words, it felt like someone understood my pain, it was like someone outside my race understood our pain. “

For the first time, players like Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Patrice Bergeron went to Instagram to share their thoughts on what’s going on in the United States and on racism.

Fraser said he had never felt comfortable talking about his experience with racism in the game – until this week.

“To hear privileged white hockey players speak passionately about this issue, hear how upset, disgusted or outraged … it was totally inspiring.

“Because it is something that black hockey players, and blacks and people of color, have always known, have always lived,” said former Oiler.

Growing up and playing hockey in Ontario, Fraser, who is biracial, said he realized he was different from everyone else when he was 13 at a tournament in Quebec.

While serving a penalty during a game, Fraser says that two men looked at the window and said, “Go back to the bush.

“We can’t take these likes to the bank”

McDavid, who shared the ice with Fraser once, shared an Instagram post on Wednesday about Floyd’s death.

“I believe the time has now come for all of us to step out of our comfort zones, not sit idly by and be part of the solution to make sure we end racism in our society”, excerpt from an article by McDavid. said.

A few hours later, the position had been liked almost 45,000 times.

Fraser wants the Oilers captain and the other NHL players to go one step further.

Silas Kamis, left, and Kuddus Woubete are big fans of the NBA but they know that Connor McDavid is the face of the NHL. (Min Dhariwal / CBC)

“We cannot take these likes to the bank, we have to see continued action and support,” he said.

It’s a sentiment shared by a group of black teens north of Edmonton.

Silas Kamis and his friend Kuddus Woubete can usually be found shooting hoops on an outdoor basketball court in their Cumberland neighborhood.

“A huge impact”

Woubete is not an NHL fan, but he thinks McDavid’s words will help.

However, the Oilers captain must support him when entering the community, said Woubete.

“By doing things in the real world, by impacting children, by impacting people, by showing that he really means it and that it is truthful and authentic – that is thing number one. . “

Silus Camus and his friends play basketball on the basketball courts in the Cumberland community in north Edmonton. (Min Dhariwal / CBC)

“I think it’s going to have a huge impact, there are people who admire it,” added Camis, 17, who named basketball star Lebron James his favorite athlete.

He says that when the face of the NHL speaks, people listen.

“When like the biggest players in the NHL, who don’t talk about it a lot, when they talk about it, it’s going to be huge,” he said. “If someone can help make an impact, they are definitely going to have a real impact. “

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