Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba became the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem when the postseason kicked off Saturday.
Dumba wasn’t playing in the game, but walked out to center ice to discuss his work with the Hockey Diversity Alliance before the puck drop.
Video screens throughout the arena said “end racism” and “we stand for black lives” while Dumba spoke.
“During this pandemic, something unexpected but long overdue occurred. The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society. For those unaffected by systematic racism or unaware, I’m sure some of you believe that this topic has garnered too much attention during the last couple months. But let me assure you: it has not,” Dumba began his remarks.
The Minnesota Wild player was one of a handful of NHLers to create the new Hockey Diversity Alliance in June.
“Our mission is to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey. We will strive to be a force for positive change not only within our game of hockey, but also within society,” a press release said of the new group.
Dumba, who is Filipino-Canadian, said later in his speech that “racism is everywhere.”
“I stand in front of you today on behalf of those groups and promise you that we will fight against injustice and fight for what is right. I hope this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans because black lives matter,” he continued. “Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater and it starts with all of us.”
Dumba then took a knee when the U.S. national anthem began to play. Every other player on the ice remained standing. During the first official game of the postseason earlier in the day, every player on the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers remained standing, The Daily Caller reported.
Matt Dumba gives a speech and takes a knee during the US National Anthem before the games begin in the Edmonton Hub pic.twitter.com/1DvKAl2Q8Y
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) August 1, 2020