Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba kneels during anthem after giving anti-racism speech

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba's team wasn't even playing in the opening game of the NHL's Western Conference qualifying round.

But representing the Hockey Diversity Alliance, he was given the platform to deliver an impassioned speech against racism before the Edmonton-Chicago game and then knelt during the national anthem as fellow Black players Darnell Nurse and Malcolm Subban put their hands on his shoulder.

"During this pandemic, something unexpected but long overdue occurred," Dumba said as the words "End Racism" appeared on the scoreboard. "The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society. For those unaffected by systematic racism or unaware, I’m sure that some of you believe that this topic has garnered too much attention during the last couple months. But let me assure you, it has not.

Powerful words from Matt Dumba ahead of puck drop between the Blackhawks and Oilers. ❤️@matt_dumba | #isupporthda | #hockeyisforeveryonepic.twitter.com/AWawuUWn19

"Racism is a manmade creation, and all it does it is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere, and we need to fight against it. On behalf of the NHL and the Hockey Diversity Alliance, we vow and promise to stand up for justice and fight for what is right."

Dumba, who's from Canada, plays in the metropolitan region where the death of George Floyd in police custody led to calls for reform. He has vowed to match up to $100,000 in donations to rebuild the area of Minneapolis destroyed by unrest after Floyd's death.

Dumba said he's personally aware of the challenges that minority players face in hockey and the goal of the alliance and the league is for "kids to feel safe, comfortable and free-minded every time they enter a new arena."

Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem while flanked by Edmonton Oilers' Darnell Nurse, right, and Chicago Blackhawks' Malcolm Subban. (Photo: JASON FRANSON, AP)

"I hope this inspires a new generation of hockey players and hockey fans, because Black lives matter, Breonna Taylor’s life matters," he said. "Hockey is a great game, but it could be a whole lot greater and it starts with all of us."

The speech drew praise from fellow Black player Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks.

Incredibly proud of @matt_dumba with the courageous gesture and leadership. A powerful message for the hockey community. #HDApic.twitter.com/Rzlz29lTNX

"Incredibly proud of @matt_dumba with the courageous gesture and leadership," he tweeted. "A powerful message for the hockey community."

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