Photo credit: Sportsnet
The NHL had a real chance to show that they stand with people of color everywhere and that they condemn social injustice but instead whiffed gigantically on Wednesday night.
On a day that saw the Milwaukee Bucks take their stand against injustice by deciding to use their platform for peaceful protest and boycott game 5 against the Orlando Magic, the NBA then decided to follow suit and cancel the two remaining games on the docket to stand in support of their players. The WNBA also decided to follow suit and cancel all their games on Wednesday night to show solidarity against racial injustice. Meanwhile the NHL and MLB (sans the Milwaukee Brewers, San Francisco Giants, and LA Dodgers) decided to carry on with business as usual.
The NHL even doubled down on their stupidity ahead of puck drop of the Lightning-Bruins game 3 tilt to have Bill Daly say they haven’t even considered to cancel their remaining games. It truly doesn’t get anymore clueless than that and the problem is this isn’t the first time that the NHL has appeared tone deaf on a situation that revolved around social justice.
Sadly, this isn’t the only time the league appeared to just not get it. As of recent, when Matt Dumba stood up and gave an amazing speech before at the beginning of the return to play, it seemed that he was doing it alone. When he stood with his fist raised in the air, he again stood alone even though his teammates were there on the bench with him. The fight for equality in the NHL shouldn’t just be on the backs of Matt Dumba, Ryan Reaves, Evander Kane, the players who have been the most outspoken striving for change not only in the world but the NHL as well. Neither should this responsibility rest on other black hockey players however it largely has.
Dumba did a radio hit just before game 3 of the Tampa-Boston series and said “the NHL is always last to the party on these topics” which is a pretty huge statement condemning the NHL’s response or lack thereof. It’s always great to say that you’re about equality and want to show support for those in need but when the league had the chance to actually back their words with action they again failed miserably.
The NHL and hockey in general has had a checkered history when it comes to racial equality in the game and just flat out racism. Look no further than the Bill Peters comments that came to light and caused his firing in Calgary. Or just the way that players of color have been treated by fans throughout the years, or if you want pretty recent history the whole K’Andre Miller Zoom call debacle just a few short months ago. It is truly alarming just how badly the NHL fails to not only understand their own fans but the way that they alienate potentially new fans by failing to understand what’s going on in the world. Statements are all fun and grand but the only thing that actually matters in life is action and by failing to postpone the games on Wednesday it just sends a message that the league either A. doesn’t care about what’s happening or B. just doesn’t know how to take a affirmative course of action.
Players in your own league are calling you out for the way you poorly handle these issues, fans have called you out for years on the way these issues get handled, what will it cause to finally get real change? The game of hockey demands that a player should sacrifice themselves and their individual accomplishments for the greater good of the team, then why is it that the NHL can’t seem to sacrifice itself to a higher calling of standing in solidarity against racial injustice?