In response to the murder of George Floyd by a white policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota last month, the NHL is increasing its efforts to establish racial equality for all with the formation of a ‘hockey diversity alliance’. Former Washington Capitals forward Joel Ward will be apart of the board’s executive committee.
Former NHL forwards Akim Aliu (who was subject to racial slurs by former Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters during the 2009-10 AHL season with the Rockford IceHogs) and Chris Steward, San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, and Buffalo Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds will round out the board. Aliu and Kane will both co-lead the group.
Ward, 39, is the elder statesman of the Alliance and joined Hockey Central on Monday to discuss what they hope to accomplish.
“We’ve been talking for a few months now,” Ward said. “Obviously, hockey’s been very important in the conversations around race and we’ve all seen and experienced racism ourselves at some level of the game and we just actually thought it was important now. With everything that’s going on right now it’s time for us to unite and try to improve our game for future generations.”
Although the Alliance is not currently partnered or officially affiliated with the NHL, Ward said “we definitely would love to work with the league” on issues of inclusivity and diversity while thinking of other ideas and policies that could improve the game.
“I think that we can bring that into the league office,” Ward said. “We’re also trying to promote the diversity all across (the sport) just speaking with the youth and making the game more accessible, more affordable.”
The group’s objective will be to eliminate racism from the sport, make not only the ice rink but the planet a better place, and make people of any race as comfortable as they could be lacing up the skates.
The group is not affiliated with the NHL but will work with the league to ensure race equality.
They will try to include clinics and other inclusive activities to open up the sport to more people and educate other NHL players about racism.
By Harrison Brown