Matt Dumba makes speech condemning racism, kneels for U.S national anthem

Ross Houston
August 2, 2020

"For those unaffected by systematic racism, or those unaware, I'm sure that some of you believe that this topic has garnered too much attention during the last couple months", he said. "I know firsthand as a minority playing the great game of hockey, the unexplainable challenges that come with it".

He went on to say racism is a "man-made creation" that deteriorates "our collective prosperity".

Following the speech, Malcolm Subban of the Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Oilers placed their hands on Dumba as he became the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem.

As the New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes took the ice at Toronto's Scotiabank Arena for the first game since March 11 there was little evidence that the NHL was part of the Black Lives Matter movement that has swept global sport from England's Premier League to NASCAR.

NBA players and coaches knelt and locked arms during the USA national anthem as the sport restarted on Thursday, some wearing messages like "Equality", "Education Reform" and "Say Their Names" on the backs of their jerseys.

Players from the Oilers and Blackhawks stood around the centre-ice circle for both anthems prior to the Edmonton-Chicago game. "Hockey is a great game, but it can be a whole lot greater...and it starts with all of us".

Supported by the Blackhawks' Malcom Subban and the Oilers' Darnell Nurse, Dumba made National Hockey League history in a powerful, moving moment.

"Breonna Taylor's life matters", Dumba said. All three players are Black.

"I think everyone in the league stands with those guys", Colorado forward Matt Nieto said. Dumba stood for that anthem, played after "The Star Spangled Banner".

On Sportsnet's coverage of the Oilers-Blackhawks game, Akim Aliu and Evander Kane - co-heads of the Hockey Diversity Alliance - praised his courage and leadership.

A similar ceremony was planned for Saturday night's game between the Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins in Toronto.

During the pre-game ceremony, the video-screen at Rogers Place in Edmonton displayed two words in bold lettering: 'END RACISM'. A founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, the 26-year-old Dumba shared an emotional and impassioned speech about racism and social injustice.

Nearly all National Basketball Association players have kneeled for the American anthem since the league resumed play Thursday in Orlando, Fla.

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