Matt Dumba speaks up for Hockey Diversity Alliance, kneels for U.S. national anthem

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 01: Malcolm Subban #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers place their hands on Mathew Dumba of the Minnesota Wild during the national anthem of the United States before Game One of the Western Conference Qualification Round between the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Place on August 01, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)
EDMONTON, ALBERTA - AUGUST 01: Malcolm Subban #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers place their hands on Mathew Dumba of the Minnesota Wild during the national anthem of the United States before Game One of the Western Conference Qualification Round between the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks at Rogers Place on August 01, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the exhibition phase of the league’s restart, the NHL took deserved heat for lumping support of Black Lives Matter into the #WeSkateFor campaign. Whether it was in response to that criticism, that the league was saving its message for the meaningful games, or likely a combination of both, the NHL has taken a few positive steps since, working in collaboration with the Hockey Diversity Alliance on signage, messaging, and action plans.

But what the NHL needed to happen for it to feel anything but hollow was a demonstration or a message from one of the players.

Matt Dumba provided both.

The Minnesota Wild defenseman and founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance delivered a powerful message at centre-ice before the opening game of the qualification round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Edmonton Hub.

Then Dumba knelt, becoming the first NHL player to call attention to racial injustice and the mistreatment of Black people during the U.S. national anthem.

Dumba’s words and actions were sorely needed, but it needs to lead to something greater, and not exist just as a single demonstration. More players need to step up and use their platform to call attention to systemic racism and the continued mistreatment of Black people in order to help influence change, while the league must sharpen its focus and simply do a whole lot better in order to prove that hockey really is for everyone.

What needs to be done is not going to happen immediately. But it can’t happen at all without a starting point.

And today Dumba provided it.

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