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Color of Hockey

Minority hockey programs getting assist after Floyd death

NHL players, teams among those contributing in efforts to eradicate racism in sport

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog for the past eight years. Douglas joined NHL.com in March 2019 and writes about people of color in the game. Today, he examines individuals and groups assisting minority hockey and racial justice efforts following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

 

The Goalie Guild has routinely marshalled hockey's goaltending community to assist in causes from highlighting mental health awareness to helping ease financial hardships on coaches caused by rink closures due to the coronavirus.

But following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, guild founder Justin Goldman realized that he and his group had been largely absent from a major cause: eradicating racism in hockey and society.

"I'm in the same boat as a lot of other white hockey analysts, white hockey directors, in the sense that I have a lot to learn, and I'm not afraid to admit that," said Goldman, who is an emergency backup goalie for the Colorado Avalanche. "By no means have I been a part of the problem, but I also haven't been part of the solution."

Goldman and other individuals, groups and businesses in the hockey world are trying to change that. They are contributing their time, money and expertise to minority hockey groups and community organizations that focus on diversity, inclusion and stemming racial injustice.

The Goalie Guild recently donated $200 each to the Flint Inner-City Youth Hockey Program in Michigan and the Banners, a minority youth hockey program in Baltimore. The guild also plans to donate $200 to Washington, D.C.'s Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club, the oldest minority-oriented youth hockey program in North America.

"What I'm seeing now is that corporate America, organizations and people are trying to figure out, 'How can we do our part?'" said Rico Phillips, the founder of the Flint program and recipient of the NHL's Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award last year. "From my standpoint, people looking at our program and what we stand for and what we're doing here, it's an incredible feeling."

In addition to making the donations annually, Goldman said the three hockey programs will have access to the Goalie Guild's GearGivers program that provides used equipment to underprivileged goalies. The guild is also establishing a scholarship program for underprivileged Black goalies in the United States that would cover expenses for them to attend elite camps.

"This would be a scholarship program that I would develop over the next couple of months and have ready to go for the summer of 2021," he said. "Our budget is set for 2021 where we can definitely add at least one or two scholarships for Black goaltenders to go to a high level or really good goalie camp."

Like Goldman, the operators of Bring Hockey Back were shocked by the death of Floyd, a Black man who died in custody of the Minneapolis Police Department on May 25. The incident, captured on video, triggered demonstrations worldwide.

To show its support, the hockey apparel company made "Puck Racism" T-shirts and jerseys to raise money for hockey programs that serve minority communities.

"The hockey community hasn't been very vocal on issues like these in the past and we want to let everyone know we stand for what's right and just," Ryan Cruz, a marketing specialist for Bring Back Hockey, said in a text message. "More importantly, we want to make sure the money goes directly to aiding impoverished, disenfranchised communities that are at the crux of everything going on right now."

The company sold more than 200 shirts and jerseys and gave $980.66 each to Phillips' Flint program, Ice Hockey in Harlem and the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation.

Snider Hockey -- established by Ed Snider, the late owner of the Philadelphia Flyers - matched Bring Back Hockey's gift 2-to-1.

"It was a nice windfall, totally unexpected," said Scott Tharp, Snider Hockey's president and CEO. "I see it as people really just wanting to do the right thing and do good for good people."

NHL players and teams are also doing their part. Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba launched a fundraiser to help rebuild Minneapolis' Lake Street, an area that was damaged during protests following Floyd's death. The effort, which ends July 1, has raised more than $57,000 so far.

Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand contributed $25,000 to the Boston NAACP chapter and $25,000 to the Centre Multiethnique de Quebec.

Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby and his wife, Brandi, raised $39,400 for Black Lives Matter DC and the Leadership Council on Civil and Human Rights through their "Get Off the Bench for Racial Equality" auction earlier this month. His teammate, forward Tom Wilson, made donations to the Fort Dupont hockey team and to the East of the River Mutual Aid Fund.

The San Jose Sharks' Sharks Foundation raised $10,000 for the city's African American Community Service Agency from the sale of more than 250 Juneteenth T-shirts that were designed by Mohamed Fofana, an account manager for the team and an artist, and an auction. Fofana's design featured the iconic shark logo biting through chains.

"The shark biting through the chains represents the San Jose Sharks taking a stand against systemic racism," Fofana said in an Instagram post, "and it also symbolizes the importance that professional sports organizations play in taking a stand and recognizing that change starts within."

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