Minnesota’s Matt Dumba became the first NHL player to kneel during the US national anthem when he did so before Saturday’s opening playoff game between the Oilers and Blackhawks in Edmonton.
Dumba knelt at center ice while fellow Black players Malcolm Subban of Chicago, and Darnell Nurse of Edmonton each stood with a hand on one of his shoulders. Several teams this week stood together during the US and Canadian anthems, with some players locking arms to show solidarity.
With the message “END RACISM” on the video screens around him, the Wild defenseman made a passionate speech about racial injustice on behalf of the league and the Hockey Diversity Alliance.
Dumba and a handful of other Black hockey players formed the organization in June in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd in policy custody in Minnesota.
“Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it,” Dumba said. “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.”
Dumba wore a Hockey Diversity Alliance sweatshirt while making the speech and kneeling. Afterward, he received support from around the hockey community.
“I think everyone in the league stands with those guys,” Colorado forward Matt Nieto said. “There’s just no room for racism in our sport or any sports or just in general for that matter.”
J.T. Brown, who raised his right fist during the anthem before a game in 2017 when with the Tampa Bay Lightning, said on Twitter he applauded “this great start” from Dumba.
“Moving forward, teammates shouldn’t let teammates fight this battle alone,” Brown tweeted. “We always show up for each other on the ice, this shouldn’t be any different.”
Earlier this week, Avalanche center Nazem Kadri said standing together with Minnesota players before an exhibition game was a good sign of solidarity, but he called for more than just gestures.
“We’re trying to make the game more diverse, and the diversity in the game doesn’t happen with racism still going on, so that’s an important thing for us to address,” Kadri said. “As players we have addressed that. From a league standpoint, I think we’d maybe like to see a little more acknowledgement and having them address the situation and know that they stand with their players.”
Canadiens stun Penguins in overtime
Jeff Petry scored at 13:57 of overtime, Carey Price made 39 saves and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in Game 1 of their best-of-five qualifying round series in Toronto.
Petry picked up a loose puck in the right faceoff circle and ripped a shot past goalie Matt Murray.
The game was played at empty Scotiabank Arena in the NHL's return following a 142-day absence after COVID-19 ground the sport to a halt.
Jonathan Drouin had a chance to win it for Montreal in overtime on a penalty shot when he was held on a breakaway, but the puck rolled off the end of his stick and dribbled wide.
Pittsburgh’s Conor Sheary also failed on a penalty shot with 3:03 left in regulation, missing the net. The game was the first NHL postseason contest with two penalty shots since March 29, 1923.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Nick Suzuki scored to give 12th-seeded Montreal a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
The fifth-seeded Penguins rallied midway through the period with Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust connecting in a 2:39 span.
Murray stopped 32 shots.
Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Isles win as intense playoffs start
Players watching the opening minutes of the first NHL game in several months marveled at the familiar feeling from half a continent away. “Not necessarily laughing but just [noticing] how intense it was right away,” Vancouver’s Tyler Toffoli said. If the first game is any indication, hockey hasn’t missed a beat. The most unusual playoffs in league history got under way with games Toronto and Edmonton. The dynamics are far different than usual: It’s the middle of summer and all games are being played in empty arenas. But the big hits and fight from Game 1 provided ample evidence the Stanley Cup is still on the line. “It was a boxing match back and forth,” New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Toronto in the NHL’s first official game since March 11. Carolina’s Jaccob Slavin carved his name into history 61 seconds in with the first NHL goal ever scored in August. Teammate Justin Williams fought Ryan Strome a couple of minutes later, and the Hurricanes took a big step by taking a 1-0 lead in their best-of-five qualifying round series ... The Oilers and Blackhawks picked right up with five goals in the first 13 minutes of their Game 1 in Edmonton, with Chicago holding on for a 6-4 victory. Rookie winger Dominik Kubalik scored two goals and added three assists to lead Chicago, while Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews added two goals and one assist. Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists for Edmonton ... The wall-to-wall hockey on opening day also included the New York Islanders holding off the Florida Panthers, 2-1 in Toronto. Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier scored for the Islanders ... In the late game, the Winnipeg Jets took on the Calgary Flames in Edmonton.