Calgary’s Matt Dumba delivers powerful speech on racism in hockey

Tanya Simon
August 2, 2020

"Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater, and it starts with all of us".

But at the NHL's other hub city of Edmonton, the Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks formed a circle as a "WeSkateForYou" tribute played, and Minnesota Wild defenceman Mathew Dumba, one of a handful of Black players in the National Hockey League, gave a speech and knelt during the USA anthem. "The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is in our society".

Hockey has long been a game with a small percentage of Black players, and it subsequently holds a reputation for not always welcoming minority athletes. Toronto Maple Leafs alternate captain Morgan Rielly said that the NHL's response to the Black Lives Matter movement is "an ongoing process" but that Dumba's actions impressed him.

As he did, Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse and Blackhawks backup goalie Malcolm Subban - both are Black - stood behind him, each with a hand on his shoulder.

Dumba wore a "Hockey Diversity Alliance" shirt for the ceremony, which also paid tribute to front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dumba, who is Canadian, stood for the Canadian anthem.

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Throughout the recent National Hockey League season, there have been various discussions surrounding racism in the sport and how many black players have felt like the environment isn't always inclusive.

"I'm all in on that stuff", Tocchet said. "As players in this league, we just want to give him support and the movement support and be a part of it. I think it's important that we realize how fearless he was and make sure we give him support and try to fix this". "I thought it was terrific".

Michael Buble sang the Canadian national anthem in Vancouver and the U.S. one was broadcast over the speakers before the game got underway in Edmonton.

A similar ceremony was planned for Saturday night's game between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto.

Prior to the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament, players took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck. A founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, the 26-year-old Dumba shared an emotional and impassioned speech about racism and social injustice. During Thursday's NBA season restart, players of the Utah Jazz and the New Orleans Pelicans took a knee during the national anthem.

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