The NHL‘s postseason began Saturday with an impassioned speech by Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba that called for support of the Black Lives Matter movement and justice for victims of police violence.
Before the puck drop at the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Edmonton Oilers game, Dumba, who is of Filipino descent, spoke about the need to address systemic racism and the need for diversity in hockey, saying that while the sport is great, it can be “a lot greater” if players and fans unite and join the fight to end racism.
“During this pandemic something unexpected but long overdue occurred,” Dumba said. “The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is in our society. For those unaffected by systematic racism or are unaware, I’m sure some of you believe that this topic has garnered too much attention these last couple of months. But let me assure you that it has not.”
Speaking on behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, the defenseman said, “Racism is a man-made creation, and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it.
“We vow and promise to stand up for justice and fight for what is right,” he continued. “I know first-hand as a minority playing the great game of hockey, the unexplainable and difficult challenges that come with it. The Hockey Diversity Alliance and NHL want kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter an arena. So I stand in front of you today on behalf of those groups and promise you that we will fight against 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’s life matters. Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater — and it starts with all of us.”
Following the speech, Malcolm Subban of the Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Oilers placed their hands on Dumba as he became the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem.
Dumba’s speech follows the NBA’s July 30 opening game, where both the New Orleans Pelicans and Utah Jazz donned Black Lives Matter shirts and took a knee ahead of tip-off. Elsewhere, in the MLB, the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals both took a collective knee before their July 23 game to honor the BLM movement.
View Dumba’s speech in its entirety above.