Wild’s Matt Dumba is the first NHL player to kneel for the National Anthem

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Matt Dumba of Minnesota became the first NHL player to kneel during the United States National Anthem when he did so before the first playoff game between the Oilers and the Blackhawks in Edmonton, Alta.Dumba knelt down in the middle of the ice on Saturday as fellow black players Malcolm Subban of Chicago and Darnell Nurse of Edmonton each held one hand on one of his shoulders. Several teams this week came together during the US and Canadian anthems, with some players locking their arms to show solidarity.

With the message “END RACISM” on the video screens around him, Defenseman Wild delivered a passionate speech on racial injustice on behalf of the league and the Hockey Diversity Alliance.

Dumba and a handful of other black hockey players formed the organization in June following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minnesota.

“Racism is everywhere and we have to fight against it,” Dumba said. “We will fight injustice and fight for what is right. I hope this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans because black lives matter, Breonna Taylor life matters. Hockey is a great game, but it could be a lot better, and that starts with all of us.

NHL
Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wilds takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by Darnell Nurse (right) of the Edmonton Oilers and Malcolm Subban of the Chicago Blackhawks.AP

Dumba, who is Filipino-Canadian, wore a Hockey Diversity Alliance sweatshirt while delivering the speech and kneeling. Subsequently, he received the support of the entire hockey community.

“I think everyone in the league is with these guys,” Colorado forward Matt Nieto said. “There is just no place for racism in our sport or in any sport or just in general for that matter.”

JT Brown, who raised his right fist in the anthem ahead of a 2017 game with the Tampa Bay Lightning, said on Twitter that he applauded Dumba’s “good start”.

“Going forward, teammates shouldn’t let their teammates fight alone,” Brown tweeted. “We always show up for each other on the ice, it shouldn’t be any different.”

Earlier this week, Avalanche center Nazem Kadri said standing alongside Minnesota players before an exhibition game was a good sign of solidarity, but called for more than just gestures.

“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 deal with,” Kadri said. “As players we have solved this problem. From a league perspective, I think we might like to see a little more recognition and ask them to face the situation and know that they are supporting their players.

Asked about Kadri’s comments, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press on Friday: “We are in complete agreement on the ultimate goal.”

The league is made up of over 95% white players and does not have people of color as coaches or general managers. The recent national debate on racism has prompted many of these white players to speak out on the subject.

“I said how I felt, and the other players are just as comfortable saying how they feel,” said Stars forward Tyler Seguin, who demonstrated peacefully in Dallas.

When the playoffs began on Saturday, a banner at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto read: “#WeSkateFor Black Lives”. Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said he received a call from Vegas forward Ryan Reaves ahead of the Coyotes-Golden Knights exhibition game about players blocking their arms and qu ‘he was happy to see the league prioritize diversity.

“I’m all for this stuff,” Tocchet said. “I thought it was great. I watched all the other teams do different things. Show that consciousness is formidable. ”

Reaves wanted to do something to raise awareness during the anthem, and his teammates told him they would support him. He chose not to kneel down because he wanted to do something the whole team could be a part of.

“For a lot of guys kneeling isn’t the way they would want to show their support, and if we wanted to do something as a team my big problem was that I didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. in what they wanted to do. Reaves said. “I know if I said I wanted everyone to kneel at least one guy was going to feel uncomfortable and I didn’t want it. So I think that was the best way to be able to include everyone and to make everyone feel comfortable with what we were doing.

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