EDMONTON — Calgary-raised Matt Dumba delivered a powerful message on the opening day of the Stanley Cup qualifiers.
On Saturday, however, he was holding a microphone instead of a hockey stick. A founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, the 26-year-old Dumba shared an emotional and impassioned speech about racism and social injustice.
“During this pandemic, something unexpected but long-overdue occurred — the world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society,” Dumba said prior to Saturday’s matchup between the Edmonton Oilers and the Chicago Blackhawks at an empty Rogers Place. “For those unaffected by systematic racism or unaware, I’m sure some of you believe that this topic has garnered too much attention during the last couple of months. But let me assure you, it has not. Racism is a manmade creation and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it.
“On behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, we vow and promise to stand up for justice and fight for what is right. I know, first-hand, as a minority playing the great game of hockey, the unexplainable and difficult challenges that come with it. The Hockey Diversity Alliance and the NHL want kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter an arena.
“So I stand in front of you today, on behalf of those groups, and promise you that we will fight against injustice and fight for what is right. I hope this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans. Because Black Lives Matter. Breonna Taylor’s life matters. Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater, and it starts with all of us.”
EDMONTON, ALBERTA – AUGUST 01: Malcolm Subban #30 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse #25 of the Edmonton Oilers place their hands on Mathew Dumba of the Minnesota Wild during the national anthem of the United States before the Game One of the Eastern Conference Qualification Round prior to the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place on August 01, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta. Dumba spoke before the game about the NHL’s support of Black Lives Matter and ending racism.
Jeff Vinnick /
During the pre-game ceremony, the video-screen at Rogers Place in Edmonton displayed two words in bold lettering: ‘END RACISM.’
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 U.S. national anthem. As he did, Oilers defenceman Darnell Nurse and Blackhawks backup goalie Malcolm Subban — both are Black — stood behind him, each with a hand on his shoulder.
Dumba is a grad of the Crowchild Minor Hockey Association — now the Northwest Warriors — and the Northwest Calgary Athletic Association’s AAA programs. He also attended Edge School before starring for the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and representing Canada at the world junior tournament in 2014.
Now in his seventh season with the Wild, Dumba is a team nominee for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy, an annual nod to the NHLer who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.”
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.
Added Kane: “Obviously, it took a lot of courage and strength for Matt to go out there in a game he wasn’t even a part of and make a statement on behalf of obviously the Hockey Diversity Alliance and, more importantly, the Black community and people of colour. Matt identifies as Filipino, and I hope people understand how difficult that was for him to take that lead and to be the first player within our league to take a stance so publicly. I’m very, very proud of him.”
Dumba and the Wild will be in action Sunday for Game 1 of their best-of-five play-in series against the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference bubble in Edmonton.
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