A founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, the 26-year-old Dumba shared an emotional and impassioned speech about racism and social injustice.
"Black Lives Matter. Breonna Taylor's life matters", Dumba said. He is the first National Hockey League player to kneel for the anthem this year in protest of racial inequality and police brutality. Starting Aug. 1, the NHL and Fanatics will offer a collection of #WeSkateFor Equality apparel available for purchase at NHLShop.com and NHLShop.ca, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the NHL Foundation. On Major League Baseball's Opening Day last month players from all four teams in action took a knee while holding a 200-yard swath of black cloth.
After his speech, which also included a thank-you to all those "making a positive difference in the world right now", Dumba became the first NHLer to kneel during the USA national anthem. We appreciate you. I know none of us have to be reminded right now about how our day-to-day lives have been affected by the outbreak of COVID-19.
On Sportsnet's coverage of the Oilers-Blackhawks game, Akim Aliu and Evander Kane - co-heads of the Hockey Diversity Alliance - praised his courage and leadership. "But let me assure you, it has not", Dumba said prior to kneeling.
"Racism is a man-made creation, and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity".
The Minnesota Wild player who was born in Saskatchewan called on players and fans to fight racism within hockey and beyond. Whether it was in response to that criticism, that the league was saving its message for the meaningful games, or likely a combination of both, the NHL has taken a few positive steps since, working in collaboration with the Hockey Diversity Alliance on signage, messaging, and action plans.
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 the NHL want kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter the arena.