Minnesota Wild defenseman takes a knee during the American National Anthem
(Screenshot: Sportsnet)

Minnesota Wild blueliner Matt Dumba became the first NHL player to kneel during the national anthem when he gave a speech and took a knee before a qualifying round playoff game between the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday afternoon.

Dumba was speaking on behalf of the hockey diversity alliance, which was formed by seven NHL players with the goal to “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.” San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu are the co-heads of the organization, while Detroit Red Wings defenseman Trevor Daley, Buffalo Sabres forward Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers forward Chris Stewart, former NHL forward Joel Ward and Dumba are part of the executive group committee. 

Before the NHL playoff qualifying round games got underway in Edmonton, Dumba came onto the ice and gave a powerful speech about ending racism and promoting diversity in the sport of hockey.

“Hockey is a great game, but it can be a whole lot greater…and it starts with all of us.”, said Dumba. You can view his full speech below.

Here are some photos from the powerful moment. Blackhawks goalie Malcolm Subban and Oilers blueliner Darnell Nurse put their hands on the shoulders of Dumba as he took a knee during the US National Anthem.

Evander Kane and JT Brown took to social media to share their support for Dumba and his message for the hockey community.

TSN’s Frank Seravalli posted a transcript of Dumba’s speech.

The NHL still has a long ways to go when it comes to diversity in the sport, but Dumba’s powerful speech is a step in the right direction.