Like all major professional sports, hockey is paying serious attention to the impact of George Floyd’s death on a global level.
The National Hockey League says it’s already taking affirmative action, developing an inclusion program and adopting a better working environment initiative.
In a racent interview with Matt Larkin of The Hockey News, NHL executive vice-president of social impact Kim Davis said a movement already began some five months ago to get things going in the right direction.
“We have now pulled together, and will be ready to announce in the next couple weeks, the formation of the Executive Inclusion Council,’’ Davis told Larkin. “It will be made up of five owners, five presidents and two general managers. And those invitations have been accepted by these leaders.
“That council is going to be supported by the voices of three constituent groups: A players’ committee that’s going to be made up of current and former players, including female players, that will bring voices to their particular issues; a youth advisory board that will bring voices to parents in the system as well as youth leaders; and a fan inclusion committee that will help us understand how to make our sport more welcoming from a fan perspective.’’
It sounds like a great plan and one which will make an honest effort to bring the NHL up to speed with the current times.
Hopefully it will be embraced by team owners, managers, coaches, players and fans alike.
>Still questions about restart to be answered
The NBA has a starting date and a location to resume play.
The NHL has neither.
What’s the delay?
Please don’t tell us hockey officials are waiting to see how things go with training camps, which are scheduled to start on Friday, July 10.
And, by the way, why is it taking so long to make a decision on the two “hub’’ cities – out of a list of 10 candidates – to host the 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs?
If there are special 14-day quarantine issues involving travel into the three Canadian city nominees (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto), is it worth the trouble to try to make an end-run around governmental restrictions?
One could view announcing a date for the start of training camps as bringing the NHL closer to making this year’s makeshift playoffs a reality.
Or, on the flip side, there could be a perception putting on a blindfold and throwing a dart that lands on July 10 might signify nothing.
Especially not after it was announced on Friday a member of the Boston Bruins tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s all well and good to say the Bruins player was immediately put into quarantine, supposedly before he was scheduled to take part in Phase 2 informal workouts. And that he was asymptomatic.
This just a week after a player on the Pittsburgh Penguins tested positive, bringing the grand total to 10 NHL players infected dating back to mid-March.
If nothing else, these cases produce bad headlines and probably did nothing to calm the fears of NHL players who are nervous about returning to play their sport.
Meanwhile, about 80 NBA players took part in a conference call on Friday night and discussed their own concerns about possible issues surrounding what their league is doing about the Floyd protest movement as well as a two- or three-month “bubble existence’’ for their own tournament at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
While the topic of how the NBA should address the recent national protests concerning racism led the agenda, there also has been talk about safety worries and separation from families for long periods of time.
Don’t think for a minute the NHL Players’ Association isn’t paying attention to what’s going on across town.