Black players in the National Hockey League have organized to form the Hockey Diversity Alliance, according to Frank Seravalli of TSN Sports.
It is being led by Akim Aliu and Evander Kane and it aims to promote diversity in a sport that often struggles with diversity.
The HDA has prepared itself to enact change with them recently speaking to former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who began kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
“All of us on the Zoom call just stared into the screen,” former NHLer Akim Aliu told The Athletic’s Dan Robson. “He knew about the history of the game. He said, ‘You guys created this game. That’s something that people need to know.'”
Kaepernick helped brainstorm ideas and provided support while talking to the group last week, according to Robson.
“He’s a beacon of strength,” Aliu said of the former San Francisco 49er. “Look at how long it took for him to finally be the hero and not be the villain.”
“You see how long he’s been blackballed by the NFL and how long he’s been alienated from everything,” Aliu said. “And now he’s a true hero. I feel that’s what he really deserves.”
The HDA sent out a press release announce its formation.
“We love our sport,” the players said in the release. “We believe that hockey is the greatest game in the world. … 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. Although we will be independent of the NHL, we are hopeful that we will work productively with the league to accomplish these important changes. We believe in the importance of accountability in developing inclusivity and diversity for all involved in our sport, including fans and the league office.
We will promote diversity at all levels of the game through community outreach and engagement with youth and will endeavor to make the game more affordable and accessible. We will also focus on educating the hockey community about the racism issues confronting the sport, while advocating for acceptance and equality. We have partnered with a charitable fiscal sponsor and we will be launching a charitable division in the coming weeks to assist us in achieving our objectives.”
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