In any normal grammar, the following Hockey Diversity Association statement would be viewed as blackmail with a lower-case b.
What the Hockey Diversity Association (HDA for short) would prefer is blackmail where the letter b is in capital case.
The top hockey league in the world, the National Hockey League (a.k.a. the NHL), decided not to stoop as low as the Hockey Diversity Association demanded, and the HDA is upset.
“The NHL,” thus the HDA in all seriousness, “focused on performative public relations efforts that seemed aimed at quickly moving past important conversations about race needed in the game.”
All that because a convicted criminal, apprehended by law enforcement officials while committing several more crimes, died, allegedly because of the arresting police officer’s actions.
(The reality seems to differ wildly from the accepted racial story-telling.)
What followed was an incredible wave of violent looting, with bands calling themselves Black Lives Matter and Antifa terrorizing innocent citizens and destroying local businesses, while putting American cities ablaze.
The NHL answered all this by making sure its fans, glued to their television sets during the so-called Return To Play, saw distinct signs such as We Play for Black Lives.
That the hockey players make their outrageous salaries thanks to the interest of fans of other skin colours, too, seemed to be perfectly irrelevant.
The NHL even responded in agreement to its Player Association’s (NHLPA) demand that it postpone for a day the proceedings, to get in line with what the richest athletes on earth, basketball’s NBA stars, called a boycott.
That they obviously are not aware of the real meaning of the word is another matter.
Defenceman Matt Dumba, one of the HDA founders, spoke eloquently during the opening broadcast of the NHL playoffs, saying, “We fight against justice.”
He caught himself in that Freudian slip, waited, just like a professional broadcaster would, a few seconds, and corrected himself: “We fight against injustice.”
Sure enough, subsequent replays of the touching scene hit the air without the howler.
(Technically speaking: where was the seven-second-delay button when Hockey Night in Canada needed it?)
The HDA has also asked the NHL to make sure a certain percentage of their management ranks (as well as a certain percentage of management ranks within individual clubs) be filled with what they call People Of Colour (it has already achieved a status symbol: it has got its own abbreviation, POC). Simply speaking, qualifications be damned. It’s the colour of your skin that matters.
There hasn’t been any official talk about quotas for dark-skinned players on NHL rosters (similar to Quebec nationalists’ demands for French-speaking players skating for Montreal Canadiens and, in the past, Quebec Nordiques). What hasn’t happened yet can easily happen in the future.
What the HDA has been demanding: have the NHL support young dark-skinned players so they can make the step into the top league ranks eventually. That it would be best to leave such decision to these kids (and their parents) somehow never struck the HDA as a most logical option. And never mind that the youth leagues are run by somebody else. The national hockey associations (Hockey Canada, USA Hockey), and their subsidiaries, such as the youth leagues, would certainly look askance at the NHL whenever it or its teams try to interfere with the programs in any shape or form.
Of course, the NHL hired Kim Davis, appointing her to the post of Executive Vice President, Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. Based in the League’s New York office, she now reports directly to Commissioner Gary Bettman. She will also be in constant touch with what the league described as its clubs and stakeholders.
Top North American companies have been taking her advice on corporate responsibility and inclusive leadership practice, the NHL said.
That, of course, is not enough, so far as the HDA is concerned.
This is what the group said in its newest statement: “We have waited many months for a response to the common sense HDA pledge we proposed and it is clear that the NHL is not prepared to make any measurable commitments to end systemic racism in hockey.”
Where’s the beef?
Of course, the HDA has yet to define with any semblance of precision what it views as systemic racism. Judging by its co-founder Matt Dumba’s words during the infamous league re-opening, what we’re dealing with is systematic racism rather than systemic. The two expressions can hardly differ more, but let’s not be sticklers for detail. Neither the HDA nor the BLM (yes, even the Black Lives Matter have achieved the status of abbreviations) and nor the Antifa have yet come up with any kind of definition that couldn’t be successfully challenged, but that doesn’t matter, obviously.
So, the HDA informs all and sundry, “While we are disappointed, the HDA will operate separate and independent of the NHL and authentically implement necessary education programs and changes to the sport and seek to be role models for the youth in Black and Brown communities who want to play hockey.”
Former NHL player Akim Aliu, whose allegations that his former coach Bill Peters insulted him using a racist remark about the music he played in the locker room started the flood of “me-too” accusations, is one of the heads of the HDA. San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane is the other one.
Founders of the group include players such as Trevor Daley, Anthony Duclair, the abovementioned Dumba, Nazem Kadri, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and Joel Ward.
The NHL has but one way to proceed: shrug the fierce HDA proclamation off and try to restore its business to make it a viable proposition again.
If the HDA has problems with it, the NHL should congratulate it: the HDA’s got something the NHL doesn’t.
And that should be the end of the story.