But the league's approach flipped Saturday afternoon when Wild defenseman Matt Dumba gave a stirring pregame speech about racism ahead of Oilers vs. Blackhawks and then knelt for the anthem.
Players from the Oilers and Blackhawks stood around the centre-ice circle for both anthems prior to the Edmonton-Chicago game. Needless to say, the NHL is trying to reform itself while also making hockey a sport that is inclusive for everyone, regardless of race.
While Dumba is not on either of the teams that played Saturday, he is part of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization that formed in June consisting of seven former and current NHL players. 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 can be a whole lot greater...and it starts with all of us". 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. Afterward, he received support from around the hockey community. "There's just no room for racism in our sport or any sports or just in general for that matter".
The Regina native made a speech about social and racial justice prior to Edmonton's first game of the National Hockey League restart - the second overall - before he kneeled for "The Star Spangled Banner". "We always show up for each other on the ice, this shouldn't be any different".
NBA players and coaches knelt and locked arms during the USA national anthem as the sport restarted on Thursday, some wearing messages like "Equality", "Education Reform" and "Say Their Names" on the backs of their jerseys.
What needs to be done is not going to happen immediately.
Asked about Kadri's comments, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told The Associated Press on Friday, "We're in complete agreement as to the ultimate goal".