The NHL laid out a comprehensive plan on Thursday to “fight against racism” and issue “the mandate to make our sport and our league more welcoming and inclusive.”
Among several initiatives, the NHL and NHLPA have planned mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all players during training camp for the 2020-21 season. Meanwhile, league employees will have their own inclusion training, led by Bill Proudman from White Men as Full Diversity Partners.
The league also formed an Executive Inclusion Council, co-chaired by Sabres owner Kim Pegula and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman — as well as three other committees. The Player Inclusion Committee is co-chaired by Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and NBC analyst Anson Carter, and will include current and former NHL players as well as women’s national teams players. The Fan Inclusion Committee and Youth Hockey Inclusion Committee “will each develop action-oriented solutions that positively impact the access, opportunity and experiences that underrepresented groups have in the game — and in the business — of hockey.”
“Under the leadership of NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs Kim Davis, the League’s longstanding work in these areas has been refocused over the last three years and accelerated over the last six months,” Bettman said in a statement. “The initiatives we are announcing today are the result of that recommitment to making the NHL more inclusive and welcoming — and to using the privilege of our platform to fight racism.”
The NHL is a predominantly white league. In January, Davis told WDET in Detroit that 43 players of color appeared in a game this season — which represents about five percent of total players in the league.
In June, several prominent BIPOC players in the league formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, whose stated mission is “to eradicate racism in hockey at all levels.” Members of the HDA were instrumental in holding conversations with players in the bubble, persuading them to take a two-day pause from the playoffs last month in solidarity with other sports leagues protesting racial injustices and police brutality.
On Thursday, the NHL and NHLPA announced they would work with the HDA to establish a “first-of-its-kind grassroots hockey development program” which would provide mentorship and skill development for BIPOC boys and girls in the Greater Toronto Area. The NHL said it would look to pursue a similar pilot program based in the U.S. as well.
Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, a member of the HDA, said he was able to review the NHL’s plan earlier on Thursday.
“That’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Kadri said. “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. 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 also said it plans to collaborate with two non-partisan organizations focused on increasing voter participation in the U.S.
The League will collaborate with two non-partisan organizations focused on voter education and increased participation in the U.S. which will connect with Clubs as appropriate. The NHL said it will designate 2020 U.S. Election Day and future general election days in both Canada and the U.S. as company-wide “off days.”