Given the current climate, now seems like a good time for introspection. We should look within ourselves, and within the sport of hockey that we love so much, to try to figure out ways that we can be more understanding, and empathetic. It seems as if we have some serious work to do on both fronts, but there appear to be reasons for optimism in all facets.
Here’s the Monday edition of Links, News, and Notes:
- While the amount of white NHL players that have voiced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement has been encouraging - if not surprising - there are, of course, Black players that have been inspiring in the way that they’ve used their collective voice to call for change.
One of whom, is Anthony Duclair:
There’s not really much more I can add to this, other than it’s great to see Duke being a leader off the ice, and standing for what he believes in.
- When it comes to racism in hockey, fewer have done more to further the sport than the NHL’s first Black player, Willie O’Ree.
The league’s civil rights pioneer gave an interview to Donna Spencer of the Canadian Press, giving his thoughts on the current racial tension:
“Racism . . . it’s not going to stop overnight,” O’Ree said.
“I experienced it when I was playing and a lot of these boys and girls I come in contact with the Hockey Is For Everyone program, they’ve had racial remarks directed towards them on the ice, on the bench or in the dressing room.
“I think it’s just terrible you just can’t look at a person for who they are and forget about the colour of their skin.”
The legend also gave his thoughts on George Floyd’s murder, and his musings are always worth a read. Few can say it better than Willie O’Ree.
- Brock McGillis once told me that changing hockey culture needs to be a “top down bottom approach”. This is exactly what he was referring to:
From @rwesthead: Current and former NHLers are calling for greater transparency as the GTHL keeps secret its data on penalties called for discriminatory slurs.— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) June 4, 2020
More: https://t.co/7dmINhhIBm pic.twitter.com/FKVaFkMqtO
This is, once again, some great reporting from Rick Westhead, on a problem that doesn’t get nearly enough coverage. If you don’t believe that we need to address hockey’s culture, I would strongly encourage you to read this:
“I’d probably say, like, half of the games someone said something, but no one ever heard,” said Myles Douglas, a 16-year-old Black player from Georgetown, Ont.
“They always say it when the refs backs are turned, or when they know the refs or no one else will hear them.”
I personally refereed minor hockey in Sudbury, Ontario for five years, and I can tell you from experience, this kind of thing happens way more than you think. And even then, I can only speak to the instances that I actually heard.
- Sticking with Rick one more time, there also appears to be some positive steps taken in terms of minor hockey.
"Actions speak louder than words. I don't see what is there to hide? What’s the problem? Just make all of this information public." - Joel Ward, former NHL player. https://t.co/KZRFsyoI37— Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) June 5, 2020
In direct response to the GTHL controversy, Hockey Canada will implement a plan to track reported racist incidents:
“While we have never specifically tracked incidents of verbal taunts, insults or intimidation based on race, recent events have indicated a need to do more, and we will do more,” Hockey Canada spokeswoman Esther Madziya wrote in an emailed statement to TSN.
“This includes immediately taking the steps to develop an incident-tracking system that will allow Hockey Canada and our members to track reported incidents of racism, bullying and harassment.”
Hockey Canada disclosed its plans in response to questions from TSN about the Greater Toronto Hockey League, the largest minor hockey league in the world with more than 40,000 registered players.
This is a really positive step. Gaining an idea of these types of infractions will help to teach referees how to look for them, and coaches how to prevent them. Good stuff.
- Finally, on a really positive note, hockey is beginning to fight back against COVID-19:
UPDATE | National ban on sanctioned activities lifted; 13 regional Members to work with local authorities to make final return-to-hockey decisions. https://t.co/ngsIDCWwEX— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) June 4, 2020
In a statement, Hockey Canada revealed that they are lifting sanctions on banned activities, beginning to pave the way for hockey to return:
Hockey Canada said in a statement the best approach for a resumption plan was for each member to work with regional public health authorities to determine the appropriate steps to return in areas that fall under their jurisdiction.
The sport’s national body said it expects the timing for a return to the ice will differ among its members. Certain regions of the country are further along with plans to reopen and roll back restrictions related to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Hockey Canada’s 13 members are: BC Hockey, Hockey Alberta, Saskatchewan Hockey Association, Hockey Manitoba, Hockey Northwestern Ontario, Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Eastern Ontario, Hockey Quebec, Hockey New Brunswick, Hockey PEI, Hockey Nova Scotia, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, and Hockey North.
We’re all tired, and frustrated. We’re all aching for some semblance of a return to normalcy, and personally, the thought of minor hockey returning, and kids having the time of their lives, warms my cold, cold heart. I hope this works out well for everyone.