Minnesota's Matt Dumba on Saturday became the first NHL player to kneel during the USA national anthem when he did so before the opening playoff game between the Oilers and Blackhawks in Edmonton, Alberta.
Social justice has been a theme in sports restarts. "But let me assure you, it has not", Dumba said prior to kneeling.
The Minnesota Wild player who was born in Saskatchewan called on players and fans to fight racism within hockey and beyond.
Hockey has long been a game with a small percentage of Black players, and it subsequently holds a reputation for not always welcoming minority athletes. The Hockey Diversity Alliance and NHL want kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter an arena. "We will fight against injustice and fight for what is right". Dumba stood for that anthem, played after "The Star Spangled Banner".
The Regina native made a speech about social and racial justice prior to Edmonton's first game of the National Hockey League restart - the second overall - before he kneeled for The Star Spangled Banner.
Dumba's speech and demonstration caught the attention of players in Toronto, at the NHL's Eastern Conference bubble.
Throughout the recent National Hockey League season, there have been various discussions surrounding racism in the sport and how many black players have felt like the environment isn't always inclusive.
During the pre-game ceremony, the video-screen at Rogers Place in Edmonton displayed two words in bold lettering: 'END RACISM'.
NBA players and coaches knelt and locked arms during the US 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.
Dumba is a grad of the Crowchild Minor Hockey Association - now the Northwest Warriors - and the Northwest Calgary Athletic Association's AAA programs.
As the opening strains of the American national anthem played, Dumba took a knee.
Dumba wore a "Hockey Diversity Alliance" shirt for the ceremony, which also paid tribute to front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Added Kane: "Obviously, it took a lot of courage and strength for Matt to go out there in a game he wasn't even a part of and make a statement on behalf of obviously the Hockey Diversity Alliance and, more importantly, the Black community and people of colour".
"I think everyone in the league stands with those guys", Colorado forward Matt Nieto said.