Minnesota Wild defenceman Matt Dumba says he will continue to publicly protest racial injustice as the NHL returns to action in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.
On Monday, he was not alone.
Vegas winger Ryan Reaves, Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner and Dallas Stars forwards Jason Dickinson and Tyler Seguin, at the blue line together, knelt for the U.S. and Canadian anthems before their seeding game at Rogers Place.
“I talked to Reaves in warmups. He said him and Lehner were going to kneel, and asked if I’d like to join them. I said, ‘absolutely,”‘ said Seguin. “Before the game, went in the dressing room and told every one what I was doing. Told them there was no pressure to do anything. Dickinson grabbed me and said he’d like to be a part of it, and support his beliefs and my beliefs.”
“An easy decision for me.”
WATCH | Stars, Golden Knights players kneel for anthems:
Dickinson added: “I have some people of colour in my family, my dad’s from the Islands, one of my uncle’s is Black. I was nervous to think about doing it on my own. When [Seguin] said it, it was a no brainer.
Dumba was the first NHL player to kneel during the restart when he took a knee for the U.S. anthem before Edmonton took on Chicago on Saturday in the first restart game at Rogers Place. He also made a speech at centre ice before the game stressing the need for social and racial justice.
On Sunday, he raised his fist on the Wild’s bench during both the Canadian and American national anthems before Minnesota’s 3-0 win over Vancouver in the opener of their best-of-five playoff series.
“It’s time to start doing something, not just let this be a news cycle and forget about it and do it all over again,” Lehner said. “Everyone should have the same chance in society, everyone should be treated the same.”
‘I wanted to be a part of that movement’
Lehner is white and teammate Reaves is Black. Both the Stars players who knelt are white.
“Definitely being two white guys, to do what we did, I wanted to be a part of that movement if there was opportunity,” Seguin said. “I can’t say honestly that I was going to go out there on my own and take a knee. But with them having a Black player on their team and his beliefs and how I’ve said from day one I’m going to back it up in ways that I can, that’s why I chose to support that.”
The Regina native, who is half-Filipino, said he intends to do that for the rest of the NHL’s restart from the COVID-19 pandemic in homage to former Wild forward J.T. Brown.
WATCH | Matt Dumba raises fist during Canadian, American anthems:
Brown did the same during the American national anthem in 2017 as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning to protest police brutality and racism.
Previously, NHL players hadn’t been as visible as those in other pro sports leagues — particularly the NBA and Major League Soccer — in addressing racial injustice since the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers in May.
In the NBA, all players and staff of the Los Angeles Lakers and Toronto Raptors knelt for both the Canadian and American anthems when those teams met Saturday at the Walt Disney World complex near Orlando, Fla.
Teammates support Dumba’s protest
Wild players have said they support Dumba’s protest and are proud he is taking a stand. Forward Marcus Foligno led off his latest diary from inside the Edmonton bubble for The Athletic with an account of the team gathering to watch Dumba’s speech before the Edmonton-Chicago game.
Whether they join him on the ice remains to be seen, however. Wild coach Dean Evason said Monday that there has been no talk of having other Minnesota players raise a fist with their teammate before games.
“Nope, there’s been no discussions, and the only thing that we’ve discussed as a staff, as I’ve mentioned before, is that we want to eliminate racism for good,” Evason said to close Monday’s availability with reporters.