Shared from the 9/4/2020 The Denver Post eEdition
By Stephen Whyno
The Associated Press
EDMONTON, ALBERTA »The NHL on Thursday unveiled a series of anti-racism initiatives more than eight months after Akim Aliu brought the topic to the forefront in the predominantly white sport.
The league and NHL Players’ Association are planning mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all players at camp; partnering with the Hockey Diversity Alliance to launch a grassroots program for young players of color in the Toronto area; and working together on several inclusion committees aimed at encouraging diversity among executives, pro and youth players and fans.
“We applaud NHL players for recognizing the importance of this moment and for coming together as part of a genuine movement for change,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We look forward to working with all voices of change to fight for equality and broaden access to the game we all love.”
The moves come amid mounting pressure from current and former minority players for the league to take concrete steps to address systemic racism. Colorado’s Nazem Kadri, a founding member of the alliance that was formed earlier this summer, reviewed the initiatives before they were announced and believes they show progress.
“Being a part of the HDA, we tried to lay out certain policies and initiatives that affect the grassroots program and the whole education process,” Kadri said. “One of the first things we need to do is start educating the youth, the players, the staff, so it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
The NHL agreed to establish committees for executive, player, youth and fan inclusion after Aliu met with the Board of Governors in December following his allegations that coach Bill Peters used racist language toward him in the minors. Peters resigned from his job with Calgary, and the league began moving toward addressing racism in hockey.
Aliu said recently he and other members of the HDA wanted to see the league do tangible things to make a difference. He brought up having NHL-controlled arenas serve as polling stations, something the NBA agreed to do.
“The other thing is a money commitment,” Aliu said. “The NHL has to come up with the money for the Black and Brown community.”
The Toronto-area program, and another pilot program in the U.S., is a step toward that, and the league also pledged financial support for the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University’s research program into improving the criminal justice system.
In addition to players and NHLPA going through mandatory inclusion and diversity training, league and team employees will take part in similar programs.
“Everyone should be able to live and work in an environment that is inclusive, and one that is free from racism and discrimination in any form,” NHLPA executive director Don Fehr said. “In our sport, from the NHL to youth programs, we must take actions to achieve that goal, and to make our sport available and accessible to all.”