The NHL launched four committees to “examine and take action on diversity issues facing the league and sport,” becoming one of the first major professional leagues to take action on these topics following the nationwide protests around racial justice and equality. Along with the committees, there will be a task force focused on development for minority coaches and officials.
The committees include:
- Executive Inclusion Council with five owners, five team presidents, and two general managers
- Player Inclusion Committee with current and former NHL players and U.S. and Canadian women’s players.
- Fan Inclusion Committee with NHL chief marketing officers and league partners within the multicultural space.
- Youth Inclusion Committee with leaders from USA Hockey, Hockey Canada, parents, and youth hockey organizations.
The league’s initiatives have reportedly been in the works for months but come during the national uproar following the death of George Floyd in police custody. In the wake of Floyd’s death, every NHL team except the New York Rangers has released statements supporting the protest.
The predominantly white sport has one minority owner – Arizona Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo – and no minority head coaches at the NHL level. In recent years, the NHL has not participated in The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport’s Racial & Gender Report Card, unlike the other major professional U.S. leagues.
Minority players have also spoken out over racist injustices that they have faced while playing hockey, such as New York Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller, who was targeted with racist slurs during a public Zoom call in April. Former NHL player Akim Aliu reported abuse from coaches and systemic racism within the sport, writing in a Player’s Tribune article that “hockey is not for everyone.”