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NHL announces initiatives to combat racism; accelerate its inclusion efforts


The League and its Member Clubs, along with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) have committed to a number of other specific initiatives.

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Sept. 3, 2020)  At this moment, which calls on all of us not only to be clear about our engagement on social issues, but to take action, the National Hockey League announced a series of significant initiatives focused on the fight against racism and the mandate to make our sport and our League more welcoming and inclusive. In addition, the League and its Member Clubs, along with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) have committed to a number of other specific initiatives.

“We applaud NHL Players for recognizing the importance of this moment and for coming together as part of a genuine movement for change,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We look forward to working with all voices of change to fight for equality and broaden access to the game we all love.

“Under the leadership of NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs Kim Davis, the League’s longstanding work in these areas has been refocused over the last three years and accelerated over the last six months. The initiatives we are announcing today are the result of that recommitment to making the NHL more inclusive and welcoming  and to using the privilege of our platform to fight racism.

“For nearly three decades, the NHL has funded organizations and instituted programs designed to make our game more diverse. We are proud of those efforts  particularly the work done by the legendary Willie O’Ree, who has used the values of hockey to positively impact the lives of thousands of girls and boys  but we know we can and must do more. And we will.”

“Everyone should be able to live and work in an environment that is inclusive, and one that is free from racism and discrimination in any form. In our sport, from the NHL to youth programs, we must take actions to achieve that goal, and to make our sport available and accessible to all,” said Don Fehr, NHLPA Executive Director.


  • The NHL and NHLPA will work jointly with the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA) to establish and administer a first-of-its-kind grassroots hockey development program to provide mentorship and skill development for BIPOC boys and girls in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Additionally, the parties have agreed to pursue a similar pilot program based in the U.S. that will be announced at a later date. These pilot programs will represent a unique opportunity to partner with the HDA to use the power of their representation to inspire the next generation.
  • The NHL and the NHLPA are planning mandatory inclusion and diversity training for all NHL Players, to be conducted during training camp and the first part of the 2020-21 season. NHLPA staff members will receive the same inclusion and diversity training as the Players.


  • All League employees will participate in an inclusion learning experience, conducted by Bill Proudman from White Men as Full Diversity Partners (WMFDP). Their education will be focused on anti-racism, unconscious bias, dimensions of identity, micro-aggressions and cultural competency. The pilot for this work will begin with executive-level leadership immediately. WMFDP is an innovative global learning and development firm that pioneered a provocative approach to engaging white, male business leaders in inclusion efforts. For over 35 years, WMFDP has counselled countless organizations and executives around the globe on issues surrounding race, leadership, team effectiveness and inclusion.
  • The League will work with its long-standing partners at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund to empower the next generation of racial justice leaders through a relationship with the Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University. In solidarity with the Center for Justice Research’s mission to create a “procedurally just criminal justice system,” the NHL has pledged financial support to the Center for Justice Research’s student research projects specifically related to improving the criminal justice system.
  • At the Club level, the League will continue to host a series of “Courageous Conversations” related to race, equity, diversity and inclusion. Courageous Conversations provide a forum where Club personnel can delve into subject matter such as privilege, embracing difference, becoming even more of an ally and unconscious bias. At their core, Courageous Conversations are the beginning of the process of self-reflection, and they can help Club personnel navigate situations when interacting with others along different dimensions of diversity. These 1-hour sessions are being led by Kim Davis and Brian Blake, NHL Senior Director of Diversity & Inclusion. The League will be initiating a similar program for our Coaches and General Managers.
  • The League will also continue to educate our fans and stakeholders about the importance of anti-racism work through extensions of our “Committing to Change” resource guide and amplification of NHL Players, prospects, and alumni who use their voice to call for change.
  • Additionally, the League has initiated conversations directly with Mellody Hobson and John Rogers of Ariel Investments in regard to building a more diverse business pipeline and identifying strategies to engage more minority-owned organizations with the League office and the Clubs. As the NHL explores a collaboration with Ariel Investments’ regarding its capabilities as a fund manager, we will continue seeking their expert counsel and work to expand our network of Diversity and Inclusion specialists through their established connections.


The League has formed the Executive Inclusion Council (EIC), comprised of Owners, former Players and Club and League executives. The Council, co-chaired by Buffalo Sabres’ Owner Kim Pegula and NHL Commissioner Bettman, will be committed to spearheading more inclusive thinking and more inclusive outcomes throughout the hockey ecosystem by candidly assessing its current state; identifying opportunities for positive change; and developing tangible action steps and benchmarks that will advance both the inclusion and diversity of the sport. This Council will focus on the importance of metrics and accountability.

The original article can be found here

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