Before a goal was scored, before the puck was even dropped, history was made in the second game of the NHL’s restart.
Matt Dumba, a defenceman for the Minnesota Wild and executive committee member for the Hockey Diversity Alliance, delivered an impassioned speech about social and racial justice. Then he did what no NHL player before him has done and kneeled for the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
It’s rare to live through a moment and know, as it unfolds, that you’re watching the real-time writing of history. Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly recognized it — and the bravery needed to author such a moment.
“What he did was incredibly powerful and I think he should be very proud,” Rielly told reporters during a Zoom availability. “We just want to give him support, and the movement support. What he did today was outstanding. And I think it’s important that we realize how brave he was.”
As the hockey world has continued its efforts to reckon with racial and social injustice — both within the game and in the world at large — the Maple Leafs have been visible supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement and the fight for equality.
When training camps resumed, Toronto gathered, reunited at last and unified in a message made clear by the words on their t-shirts: Black Lives Matter. That support continued today as hockey made its long-awaited return.
“I thought [Dumba’s] speech was extremely powerful and very well said,” Auston Matthews told reporters, echoing Rielly’s sentiments. “Obviously it takes a lot of courage to get up there in front of lots of people and deliver something like that.”