NHL s next steps key in fight against racism, Davis says - NHL.com
|NHL.com 06 Jun 2020 at 19:27|
NHL players and teams have spoken out in various ways since George Floyd, a black man, died in the custody of a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, sparking protests across the United States.
But the key is what happens next, said Kim Davis, NHL senior executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs.
"The emotional moment of the words and the tweets and the videos are nice, and it makes people feel good," Davis said Friday. "What I care about are the actions that follow, and so that s what I m going to be paying attention to. That s what I m going to be focused on, and that s what I m going to be measuring.
"So, whether you say Black Lives Matter or you use George Floyd, that s great. But two weeks from now, two months from now, two years from now, what are you doing to change how we look and what we do and what we say and how we show up as a sport? That s what s important from my perspective."
Davis said 110 players have expressed their thoughts on social media, and she has been texting and speaking with a lot of players this week. She has had a number of conversations with San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and with J.T. Brown, a forward in the Minnesota Wild organization, and she was scheduled to talk to Sharks defenseman Brent Burns on Friday.
"All of this outreach has been initiated by the players, who have a lot of ideas about how to create stronger player-to-player opportunities," Davis said. "And I think that s what I m probably most encouraged by are the calls where players You know, not everybody s going to tweet. Not everybody s going to be comfortable using social media as the way that they express their point of view with the current situations. But lots of ideas bubbling up from players."
Davis, who joined the NHL on Dec. 4, 2017, said she has received "an unbelievable number" of calls from teams and people to whom she hadn t spoken before. An assistant general manager reached out to her Friday to offer help on a development program for front office management in the NHL.
"This can t be done by Kim Davis alone or just by the League," Davis said. "We have to have those kinds of allies, those people that are in positions of power and influence that are going to step up and take some leadership on these vital issues, and I think we re seeing that."
The NHL already was in the process of creating the Executive Inclusion Council, which will receive recommendations from three committees representing different stakeholders -- the Player Inclusion Committee, the Fan Inclusion Committee and the Youth Inclusion Committee.
The Executive Inclusion Council will consist of five owners, five presidents and two general managers of NHL teams. Davis said the members have accepted their invitations, and their names will be announced within a couple of weeks. Their first meeting will be in July.
The Player Inclusion Committee will consist of current and former NHL players, plus female players from Canada and the United States; the Fan Inclusion Committee of chief marketing officers of NHL teams and partners with which the NHL has worked in the multicultural space; and the Youth Inclusion Committee of parents and leaders of youth hockey organizations, including Hockey Canada and USA Hockey.
Davis said concurrently with the council and committees the NHL would create a task force focused exclusively on the development of coaches and officials. She and Stephen Walkom, NHL senior vice president and director of officiating, spoke Friday with Michael Hirshfeld, executive director of the NHL Coaches Association. She said the NHL gave the Coaches Association 14 names of black and brown coaches to be invited to a coaching development program next week.
"Great that this moment allows us to be able to have this dialogue in a substantive way about, How do we take this and develop these kinds of programs so that we can move coaches into positions where they can ultimately coach in the League?" Davis said.
The NHL has six assistant coaches of color. Four are black. One, New Jersey Devils assistant Mike Grier, is on the bench during games.
Asked where she hoped the NHL would be in five or 10 years, Davis said: "Numbers don t mean anything if you don t have the right culture and you don t have the right systems in place, and so my goal and my work, in my estimation, is to create the systems, the education, the advocacy, the policies, so that we don t have to have a firestorm but we have systems in place so that they know where these potential pipelines of talent are, front office pipelines, coaching pipelines, player pipelines.
"These are the things that are going to sustain our League for the long haul, and when fans and potential fans see that we re serious about this and that they see the action and the movement in this direction, I think that s when they are going to believe that we re serious, and that s how we re going to grow this game."