The National Hockey League Players’ Association has condemned the “racist, hate-filled speech” that has been directed at Nazem Kadri during the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, saying in a statement Tuesday that those comments have “no place in our society.”
The rebuke comes in the wake of Kadri being subjected to numerous threats and racist comments on social media over the weekend, which became publicly known after Game 3 of the Colorado Avalanche‘s series against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday.
During that game, a collision between Kadri and Jordan Binnington left the Blues goaltender injured and unable to play for the rest of Round 2. The ensuing vitriol directed at Kadri prompted the Avalanche to work with the St. Louis police department to investigate the callous discourse and strive to ensure Kadri’s safety off the ice, employing enhanced security procedures at his hotel and at the Blues’ arena ahead of Game 4.
“I guess someone had contacted them about some hateful messages and I was able to read those messages and they were very extreme,” Kadri said after Monday’s game. “So, you know, I just tried to shake it off. They did a good job of assuring me and making me feel safe. I just had to worry about coming (to the rink) and showing up.”
On Tuesday, Kadri’s wife, Ashley, took to Instagram to share screenshots of racist messages he and his family had received over the past 48 hours, calling the collection of messages “just a small example” of the comments they’ve endured.“
“I wanted to shine light on what the last 48 hours has looked like for us as a family,” she wrote. “This is just a small example. There are many more. This behaviour doesn’t belong in sports, or anywhere. If you are not condemning racism, then you are tolerating it.”
Many across the hockey community have done just that. However, even as St. Louis law enforcement became involved in the situation, the Blues franchise has maintained its silence on the matter.
The team did not issue a statement when the racist threats first came to light, nor did they make a comment in unison with the NHLPA’s message. Craig Berube, the team’s head coach, said he had no comment Monday when asked directly about the threats Kadri had received.
“Hockey culture at its finest, ladies and gents,” Akim Aliu, the founder and chair of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, tweeted, referring to a video of Berube. “Head Coach of a National Hockey League team has no comment on a fellow player receiving death threats and Islamophobic slurs. Same guy that called a black player a monkey as a player. No issues here, as you were.”
In November 1997, while playing for the Washington Capitals, Berube called then-Florida Panthers forward Peter Worrell, who is Black, “a monkey” — a slur widely known to be racist. Berube later apologized to Worrell, who said he accepted the apology.
“Being the target of racism is traumatic and awful, but condemning it? That should be easy,” JT Brown, the former NHL player who is Black, tweeted on Tuesday. “Everyone should be denouncing the racism Nazem Kadri is facing right now. No one deserves racist violent threats.”
Kadri, who is a Muslim of Lebanese descent, has long used his platform as a professional hockey player to advocate for equality and expose the areas the game has fallen short on being a place where all people can feel welcome.
Among the stated initiatives of his foundation, the Kadri Foundation, is “to support youth who can not afford expenses to play hockey.” Kadri was also a founding member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, a group of current and former players of colour who are seeking to eradicate racism from the game through systemic change.
“People need to be aware that this still happens and it’s hurtful. It’s hurtful,” Kadri after Game 4. “I know a lot of people don’t have to deal with that and they might not understand what it feels like, but people are trying (to understand). Which I appreciate.
“At the end of the day, I’m a good hockey player and I just try to provide for my team and try to put all of that aside. I just worry about some people — and maybe some kids — that aren’t as mentally tough as I am and have to kind of go through that scrutiny and that criticism. So, I want to do the best that I can to help.”