The NHL was the only major North American sports league not to postpone any scheduled games on Wednesday night as a result of ongoing protests surrounding the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The NHLPA has now announced players will not play Stanley Cup Playoff games on Thursday and Friday, and some players have said this was thanks to their push, and not a league decision to do something on its own.
San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane is a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a player-based organization established this June that aims "to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey."
Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Video of the incident spread on social media, leading to a wave of protests across the country. While the NBA, WNBA, MLS and MLB postponed some or all games, the NHL elected to proceed with all three of its scheduled playoff games on Wednesday.
The league held a brief moment of silence ahead of the Bruins-Lightning game in Toronto, calling on fans to "stand up for social justice and the effort to end racism."
"The NHL is always late to the party, especially on these topics, so it's sorta sad and disheartening for me and other members of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and I'm sure other guys across the league," Dumba, who is of Filipino descent, said while doing an interview for Vancouver's Sportsnet 650 on Wednesday.
"But if no one stands up and does anything, it's the same thing — it's just that silence that you're just outside looking in on actually being leaders and invoking real change when you have such an opportunity to do so."
Dumba, who is also is a founding member of the HDA, has been a leading voice on race issues and was the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem but says the league's response to racial injustice shouldn't just fall on players of color.
On Thursday, he tweeted that the HDA asked the league to suspend all games.
"I hope guys find it in them to stand up. You can't keep coming to the minority players every time there's a situation like this, said Dumba. "The white players in our league need to have answers for what they're seeing in society right now, and where they stand."
Kane also expressed frustrations with the lack of initiative shown by the NHL.
"I'll be honest, I haven't really heard much in regards to Jacob Blake's attempted murder. It's unfortunate, we're obviously talking about another Black man unarmed being shot in the back in front of his children," Kane said on Sportsnet. "But again, we had these conversations earlier with the George Floyd killing of continuing the conversation, furthering the conversation, everybody wanting to be better and making sure that we're more vocal and we do better moving forward. Here's another example, unfortunately, but it's also another example of the lack of with regards to our league and our players and our media that cover our game.
"It's not just my responsibility as a minority player in the NHL to be talking about these issues... We need to be better."@evanderkane_9 joined @DavidAmber to discuss how the NHL can do more to support the Black Lives Matter movement. pic.twitter.com/wKFqxS0hav— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 26, 2020
Kane joined Dumba in asking for the league to suspend the games.
J.T. Brown, a teammate of Dumba's and another one of hockey's leading voice on racism, also seemingly criticized the league's lack of response with a tweet on Wednesday, saying it was "listening and learning about as good as my 1-year old."