Minnesota Wild defenceman Mathew Dumba has become the first National Hockey League player to kneel during the U.S. national anthem.
As thousands took to their couches to watch the unprecedented return to hockey Saturday, the National Hockey League took the moments before Edmonton’s first game of the NHL restart to acknowledge the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dumba, 26, took to center ice to speak on behalf of fellow members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance on systemic racism.
“During this pandemic, something unexpected but long overdue occurred,” he said. “The world woke up to the existence of systemic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society.”
He went onto say that the alliance, as well as the NHL, want kids to “feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter an arena,” vowing to fight against injustice.
“I hope that this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans,” he said. “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 his speech, Dumba kneeled for the Star Spangled Banner as Chicago Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Edmonton Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse could be seen with one of their hands on his shoulders.
Michael Buble sang ‘O Canada’ on a video recorded at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena. Dumba stood for that anthem.
Dumba, born in Regina, Sask., played for the Red Deer Rebels in the Western Hockey League from 2009 to 2012, before being drafted by the Wild.
Fellow Wild right winger J.T. Brown was the first to protest during the U.S. anthem while signed to Tampa Bay Lightning when he raised his fist in 2017 – roughly a year after former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand during the national anthem at a preseason game.
Edmonton and Chicago will also be playing on Monday.
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