The NHL is taking strides to be more inclusive. The league laid out its plans to fight against racism, and “the mandate to make our sport and our league more welcoming and inclusive.”
Commissioner Garry Bettman will co-chair the Executive Inclusion Council alongside Buffalo Sabres owner Kim Pegula. Bettman shared why the league is taking making the step to promote equality:
“We applaud NHL Players for recognizing the importance of this moment and for coming together as part of a genuine movement for change. We look forward to working with all voices of change to fight for equality and broaden access to the game we all love. Under the leadership of NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs Kim Davis, the League’s longstanding work in these areas has been refocused over the last three years and accelerated over the last six months. The initiatives we are announcing today are the result of that recommitment to making the NHL more inclusive and welcoming – and to using the privilege of our platform to fight racism. For nearly three decades, the NHL has funded organizations and instituted programs designed to make our game more diverse. We are proud of those efforts – particularly the work done by the legendary Willie O’Ree, who has used the values of hockey to positively impact the lives of thousands of girls and boys – but we know we can and must do more. And we will.”
As part of the initiative, the NHL and NHLPA will undergo mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all players during training camp before next season. Bill Proudman from White Men as Full Diversity Partners will lead training for the league’s employees.
Spearheaded by current NHL players, the Hockey Diversity Alliance formed in June. Evander Kane, P.K. Subban, Ryan Reaves and Nazem Kadri are all members of the HDA. The group took part in discussions with players before the league took a two-day pause after the police-involved shooting of Jacob Blake.
Subban and former player Anson Carter will co-chair the Player Inclusion Committee, which will include women’s hockey players. The group aims to give fans and youth hockey players more access to the game and provide people of color more opportunities on the business side. The NHL and NHLPA will also make more investments to grow the sport in communities of color.
The Los Angeles Kings hosted a “Hockey is for Everyone” event outside the STAPLES Center to celebrate Black History Month in February. Willie O’Ree — the first African-American NHL player — was part of the celebration.
Kings’ captain Anze Kopitar condemned racism in a May Twitter post: