Dumba Becomes First NHL Player To Kneel
Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba started the NHL's Western Conference playoffs with a speech against racial injustice on Saturday, then took a knee during the national anthem as players from the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks stood around him.
Dumba is the first NHL player to kneel in demonstration during the anthem of the United States. The Canadian defenseman stood during the Canadian national anthem.
The NHL officially resumed play Saturday in Toronto and Edmonton, the two neutral-site hub cities chosen due to the coronavirus pandemic, by going straight into the postseason.
The opening game of the best-of-five first round series between the Oilers and Blackhawks began with a pregame ceremony honoring front-line workers and those standing up in the fight against racism.
Dumba entered the rink in a sweatshirt promoting the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization started this year by players to promote social justice and racial equality in the sport, before delivering his speech.
Dumba then kneeled at center ice on while fellow Black players Malcolm Subban of Chicago and Darnell Nurse of Edmonton stood with a hand on each of his shoulders.
In early June, the defenseman launched Rebuild Minnesota, an organization dedicated to giving back to the community.
He has also promised to match up to $100,000 in donations to rebuild the area of Minneapolis destroyed by unrest following George Floyd's death.
All five games Saturday featured a pregame message of racial equality, with "We Skate For Black Lives" videos playing on screens around the rink finishing with a graphic that read "End Racism."
For the season restart, the NHL has included initiatives to promote social justice. Players have the ability to customize stickers for helmets and clothing with "We Skate For" slogans.
After the game, Dumba received support from the hockey community for his actions:
Dumba and the Wild begin their own five-game Western Conference playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.