The Hockey Diversity Group took aim at the National Hockey League over a puzzling decision they recently made.

The NHL and NHLPA announced the creation of the Player Inclusion Coalition at the end of June.

At the time, wrote, “The NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced the creation of the coalition of current and former NHL players and women’s professional hockey players to advance equality and inclusion in hockey on and off the ice. As part of the launch, the NHL and NHLPA have earmarked $1 million to support the coalition’s programs through contributions to grassroots organizations, player-perspective storytelling, and other special projects.”

On the surface, it appears like a good, genuine effort to stymie recent bad PR the league has had through self-inflicted wounds over LGBTQ+ Pride Nights, among other things. But the Hockey Diversity Alliance was not having any of it.

The HDA released a statement in which they blasted the league and the Players’ Association. They wrote that they felt confused, betrayed, and that the NHL essentially tried appropriating their own idea. Also, that they were late to the party.

“The NHL is neither involved with the HDA nor does it support the organization. When we approached the NHL 3 years ago for financial & strategic support with our initiatives, their rebuttal to us was ‘we don’t have history’ (notwithstanding that our group is comprised of current and former players of the League). In 3 short years history has already proven who is doing the real work & who is on the right side of it,” they wrote. But it didn’t end there.

“Thus, it’s a disappointment but not a surprise that the NHL announced the formation of a ‘players inclusion coalition’ in partnership with the NHLPA. We ask, how does this committee differ from the one the NHL announced in September of 2020. Per the NHL’s announcement, this ‘new’ initiative seeks ‘to advance equality and inclusion in the sport of hockey on and off the ice.’

“Laudable on its face, laughable in full context of the work we have been doing for three years without the league’s support. The NHL’s players coalition’s mission statement does not echo the HDA”s goals so much as cynically attempt to appropriate them.”

The HDA then went even further, as they blasted the league for the timing of the announcement as well.

“It’s galling that the NHL would publicize the formation of this group just days after announcing the abandonment of its last cursory inclusion initiatives: specialty jersey nights. Even this purely symbolic show of support proved to be too onerous. The league’s decision to do away with merchandise marking important inclusionary causes, such as Black History Month, Indigenous Celebration, Pride, and Hockey Fights Cancer, is an indication that these things were little more than marketing and merchandise opportunities and rings counterintuitive with the announcement of the inclusion coalition.”

The HDA does bring up valid points with regard to the timing and the NHL’s baffling decision to concede specialty jersey nights. But boy, did they call the League out.


About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022