The Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba became the first NHL player to take a knee during the national anthem on Saturday afternoon.
Prior the start of the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup qualifying series, the NHL’s pregame ceremony featured players from both teams standing in a circle on center ice. After a short voice over honoring front line health care workers and social justice advocates, Dumba entered the rink in a Hockey Diversity Alliance sweatshirt.
Standing in a circle of his peers, Dumba, who is Filipino-Canadian, spoke on behalf of the HDA about racial justice and how he hopes hockey and its fans can rise to meet the moment.
“Black Lives Matter. Breonna Taylor’s life matters,” Dumba said. “Hockey is a great game, but it can be a whole lot greater…and it starts with all of us.”
As the opening strains of the American national anthem played, Dumba took a knee.
— Hemal Jhaveri (@hemjhaveri) August 1, 2020
Supported by the Blackhawks’ Malcom Subban and the Oilers’ Darnell Nurse, Dumba made NHL history in a powerful, moving moment.
Taking a knee might be looked at as a performative gesture in other places, such as the NBA or WNBA arena, where it is far more common, but in an NHL rink it is still a bold, controversial statement of protest.
— David Nestico (@davidnestico200) August 1, 2020
Dumba, a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, has spoken out recently about the need for the NHL and NHL players to do more to help achieve racial justice. As the Canadian national anthem started, Dumba, who plays in Minnesota, stood up.
Dumba taking a knee shouldn’t be minimized, yet it didn’t go unnoticed that no other players, especially white players, were willing to kneel with him. Despite the show of unity, Dumba cut a lonely figure out on center ice.