While much of the rest of the collective sports world shut down Wednesday night, Aug. 26, as various teams protested the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wis., the NHL pressed on with its regular slate of playoff games.
It started with the Philadelphia Flyers playing the New York Islanders, continued with the Boston Bruins squaring off against the Tampa Bay Lightning, and ended with the Colorado Avalanche taking on the Dallas Stars.
Meanwhile, the NBA postponed all of its playoff games for the day, the WNBA did the same with its regular-season games, and the MLB had a few teams postpone games.
The contrast of responses was enough to make Wild defenseman Matt Dumba speak up. He vented for about 10 minutes on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver and condemned the NHL for not doing more.
“We are always last to the party on these topics,” he said. “It’s kind of sad and disheartening for me and for members of the (Hockey Diversity Alliance), and I’m sure for other guys across the league. If no one stands up and does anything, it’s the same thing. It’s just that silence. You’re just outside looking in on actually being leaders and evoking real change when there’s such an opportunity to do so.”
Earlier this month, Dumba gave a moving speech about fighting racism within his sport, and then became the first player in NHL history to kneel for the playing of the U.S. national anthem. He did so to raise awareness about the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis with hopes of pushing the conversation forward.
While everything Dumba did was met with league-wide praise at the the time, most in the NHL have done little to vocalize support since then.
“I hope guys find it in them to stand up,” Dumba said. “You can’t keep coming to the minority players every time there’s a situation like this. The white players in our league need to have answers for what they’re seeing in society right now and where they stand in making a change.”
The frustration continued to build as Dumba wrapped up Wednesday’s interview.
“What would really make the most impact is to have strong white leaders from teams step up and have their two cents heard,” he said. “All the other white kids who grow up watching them, who might be their biggest fans, can look up and say, ‘Wow. If he’s seeing this, and understanding, and trying to listen, then why am I not as well, and why am I continuing to hold on to this ignorance or hate that I feel towards a subject that I maybe don’t know everything about?”