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Links, News and Notes: Ryan’s Masterton Nomination, Performative Allyship, and More

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It’s the Thursday edition of Links, News and Notes!

New York Islanders v Ottawa Senators Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images

Despite the ongoing pandemic, there is no shortage of stuff to talk about in the hockey world!

Here’s my first attempt at the Thursday edition of Links, News and Notes:

  • As many of you may have heard already, Bobby Ryan is the Sens’ nominee for the Masterton trophy. Ryan took time off recently to deal with an alcohol addiction, and returned to play this season. Many fans will remember his explosive comeback, in which he scored a hat trick in his first home game back. The Masterton, of course, is awarded for “sportsmanship, perseverance, and dedication to hockey,” and each team nominates one player every year.
  • On Monday, Akim Aliu and Evander Kane, along with a few other Black NHL players, announced the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, which aims to eliminate racism and intolerance in hockey.

This alliance sounds like a really positive step forward for the game, and I commend these players for taking the initiative to form it. However, I feel it is necessary to point out the absence of any Black women on the list of members. Any movement for racial equality needs to include BIPOC women. Saroya Tinker and Blake Bolden, for instance, have both been quite vocal about racial justice recently.

J.T. Brown’s absence is also notable, as he has arguably been the most passionate advocate for racial justice in the NHL, not just in the last few weeks, but dating back to when he put his job on the line by raising his fist during the anthem in 2017. I’m trying not to read too much into it, though, because I think it represents a huge step forward that there’s now an alliance of active NHL players fighting to eliminate racism from the inside. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what the alliance ends up doing.

  • I’m going to plug the latest edition of the Stick to Sports podcast, in which host Jashvina Shah discusses Black Lives Matter and racism in hockey with Chris Walker. There’s a lot of good stuff in this, including talk about unlearning unconscious biases, recognizing privilege, and how to call out and be called out. Jashvina is one of the best in the business, and this is well worth listening to.
  • While we’re talking podcasts, I’d also recommend this episode of Sans restriction, in which Shireen Ahmed talks about Black Lives Matter and the role of athletes in social movements.
  • In case you missed it, the NHL briefly put out a video praising Tyler Seguin for showing up to a Black Lives Matter protest. The video was deleted after the NHL was widely - and justifiably - criticized for being overly performative, as it painted a white player as a hero just for showing up to a protest, when several Black players, including J.T. Brown, have been doing the same and more. Hemal Jhaveri wrote a fantastic piece about it, and I would highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’re still a bit confused about the problem with performative allyship and white saviourism.
  • Jhaveri wrote another great piece yesterday about the NHL’s stance on protests. The article goes into more detail about the hypocrisy of the NHL’s recent support of Black Lives Matter protests. While it is wonderful to see the league finally taking a stance, it is important to talk about what it took to get to this point. Notably, the fact that the NHL didn’t care until white players started speaking out and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement became the popular stance.
  • What does your favourite hockey team have in common with your favourite childhood author? Both have chosen the absolute worst moment in history to distract you from what’s important by being the worst. We’ve already covered the drama with the Sens foundation and with Melnyk’s charity, so I won’t re-hash it here, but I have two things to add to the saga:

It’s kind of incredible, what the NHL will let Melnyk get away with. Everything he says, every new bit of information uncovered about him, makes him seem like a worse human being. Every time he comes back into the news, I think this will be the time he’s finally forced to sell. And yet, it seems like he can get away with anything. Amazing.

And finally, in more lighthearted news:

For context, Gibbons’ article revealed that Melnyk’s charity, The Organ Donation Project, had raised nearly $1 million, but only invested about $5,000 of that million on actual organ donor awareness. Graeme Nichols put out a call for Sens fans to donate to Trillium Gift of Life, a government agency responsible for organ and tissue donation. The goal was to simultaneously raise money for a good cause, and prove just how easy it is to raise $5,000 for charity.

Within about two hours, Sens fans had matched Melnyk’s $5,000, and, as you can see from the Tweet above, the total surpassed $20,000 in 48 hours. Sens fans raised more than four times what Melnyk did, in two days, and without spending a single cent on fundraising.

The takeaways:

  • The Organ Donation Project was hilariously mismanaged
  • Sens fans are more than willing to shell out money for a worthy cause
  • Sens fandom is full of great people