In the wake of last week’s two-game players’ boycott that led to the postponement of two playoff games, the National Hockey League announced a series of anti-racism initiatives on Thursday.
They include mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all players at training camps as well as diversity training for league employees.
The NHL and its players’ union, the NHLPA will also partner with the Hockey Diversity Alliance to launch a grassroots program for young players of colour in the Toronto area along with a similar program in a U.S. city.
As well, an executive inclusion council–comprised of owners, former players and executives–will focus on “identifying opportunities for positive change and developing tangible action and benchmarks to advance inclusion and diversity.”
Three other committees will also be formed: the player inclusion committee–made up of current and former NHL and women’s players and co-chaired by P.K. Subban and Anson Carter–the fan inclusion committee, and the youth hockey inclusion committee.
They will be charged to 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.”
The NHL and NHLPA also announced they would join together to develop a hotline, operated by an independent provider, that would allow users to report unethical behaviour and misconduct.
Joint efforts will also be made to attract“Significant” financial investments to grow hockey at the youth level in communities of colour via the NHL/NHLPA Industry Growth Fund and to provide funding devoted to new “initiatives that bring more people of colour into our game.”
And, the NHL said, it plans to work with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund by offering financial support to research projects at the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University related to improving the American criminal justice system.
The initiatives follow mounting pressure from current and former minority players, who called on the NHL to take concrete steps to address systemic racism.
They also follow last week’s boycott when NHL players joined their professional brothers and sisters in sports leagues across North America to protest racism, police violence and, specifically, the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man gravely wounded in Wisconsin on Aug. 23.
On Thursday, Democratic Party presidential candidate Joe Biden met with Blake’s family and spoke with Blake, who remains in a Kenosha hospital and is reported to be paralyzed from the waist down.
His shooting sparked protests by professional and amateur athletes across North America, including the NHL players last week.
“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 in a statement.
“We look forward to working with all voices of change to fight for equality and broaden access to the game we all love.”
With files from CBC News, The Associated Press