Evander Kane, NHL Stars Talk Racism, Discrimination in Hockey on UNINTERRUPTED

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistJune 29, 2020

San Jose Sharks left wing Evander Kane (9) during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

The recently created Hockey Diversity Alliance held a public meeting on UNINTERRUPTED on Monday and detailed their experiences with discrimination during their time in the NHL.

San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and former NHLer Akim Aliu announced the creation of the organization, featuring several veteran minority hockey players, earlier in June. The Hockey Diversity Alliance announced its mission was "to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey."

In the video, they discussed the organization's purpose while also providing personal perspectives on racism.

"As minorities in the NHL and coming through hockey, we've been undervalued, and we've been overlooked," Kane said. "... It's gone on ever since I've been in the league."

He noted a push for diversity in the NHL could help generate more revenue for the league with better marketability.

Kane specifically focused on improving accountability at the youth level, noting he was the only Black athlete in his entire league in British Columbia, Canada. He believed he needed to be "10 times better" than white kids to get the same opportunity.

"I've experienced this kind of thing first hand," Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri said. "I've seen it with my own eyes. Heard it with my own ears."

Ottawa Senators forward Anthony Duclair added: "This has been going on since the start of hockey—the racism stuff."

As Kane recalled, Wayne Simmonds had a banana thrown at him during an NHL game

Two-time Stanley Cup champion Trevor Daley also detailed racism within his family, noting some stopped speaking to his white mother after she married his Black father.

Several players on the call broke down the difference in perception between players of different races, including everything from outfits to off-ice controversies. Aliu referenced Jarret Stoll's signing after being arrested while in possession of cocaine, while Kane noted the response after offensive comments from Brendan Leipsic.

Aliu helped kick off the creation of this group with a personal essay for The Players' Tribune in May entitled "Hockey is Not for Everyone." He specifically detailed bullying he received when he was 16 from future NHL player Steve Downie.

More than 100 NHL players spoke out against racism on social media following the death of George Floyd.

The members on the conference call wore sweatshirts that read "Change Hockey Culture."