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Lightning Round: Akim Aliu opens up about hockey’s racism in Players’ Tribune article

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Sometimes a big hockey event happens on a quiet Monday during a pandemic.

Toronto Star via Getty Images

It’s mid-May, and in that alternate universe where this pandemic isn’t happening, Tampa Bay Lightning fans would be reading about Cedric Paquette punching a Metro player in the ECF. Instead we have two kinds of sports articles right now: deep dives into the past, and tentative steps into the future.

In a piece that dove into the past to help hockey step into a better future, Akim Aliu spoke to the Players’ Tribune yesterday about his experience with racism in the OHL. His piece is very much worth a read, and this paragraph stood out to me especially.

Out of everything I felt that day in Windsor — the rage, the crippling pain, the sadness — the worst part was the feeling I had right when the fight ended and I got a look at my teammates, my peers, standing in a circle, watching this go on. It felt … tribal. Or like I was an animal in the circus. I was with all these people who were supposed to be my brothers, right? That’s what hockey is all about. Brotherhood. Togetherness. Teamwork. And they just stood there. I was surrounded by the types of players I had dreamed of playing with, and I had never felt more alone.

I don’t think I have to contextualize this much, because we all know this feeling. We all understand what it’s like to be singled out like you’re an outcast rather than embraced like family. It’s a horrific shame to see it happen to youngsters, in the sport we love, for racist reasons, and all in the name of the team.

Let’s all learn from this. Let’s all reach out to people who we don’t understand, but who love what we love. Let’s actively fight bigotry when we see it and let’s make our sport as amazing to be a part of FOR EVERYONE as we know it is.

~

Now on to the rest of the news!

Victor Hedman and the Tampa Bay Lightning have unfinished business [The Hockey News]

For Hedman, it has been business as usual this year, with 55 points through 66 games. That’s actually a slightly better points pace than he ended up with in 2017-18, the year he won the Norris Trophy. While no one currently knows how voting will go in 2019-20, Hedman would at least be in the mix once again with peers such as Nashville’s Roman Josi and Washington’s John Carlson. Needless to say, getting that first nod was quite the affirmation for the big Swede.

NHL hopes extended U.S.-Canada border closing won’t hurt return to play chances [NHL on NBC]

Travel restrictions could provide a barrier to getting NHLers back to their playing cities in hopes of holding three- to four-week training camps. Those restrictions currently include a 14-day period of self-isolation for anyone returning to Canada from abroad

Yeah, um, that sounds like a no-go if it’s (say) Leafs vs. Bolts in the first round, or anything involving Canada.

Bryan Burns, Tampa Bay Lightning beat writer, hung out on WDAE to discuss where he thinks the Lightning are heading next. (Into their back yards? I dunno.) [WDAE]

This Date in Bruins History: Tim Thomas shuts out Lightning in East Final [NBC Boston]

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas made 31 saves on 31 shots for his first of four shutouts in the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. B’s center David Krejci opened the scoring just 1:07 into the game with a nice move in front of the net, and defenseman Andrew Ference tallied an insurance goal at 8:12 in the third period.

God I hate these guys. But you know who we snitched from New England?

Tom Brady, Bucs players take the field at Tampa’s Berkeley Prep: exclusive photos [TB Times]

The NFL said there was nothing wrong with Brady working out with teammates as long as they followed recommendations and guidelines set by the state, local authorities, medical experts and the league. Last Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida was open for business to pro sports leagues. NFL teams re-opened facilities to some employees as early as Tuesday. Coaches and players still are not permitted to return unless rehabbing an injury.

Anyway. Happy Wednesday! Stay healthy, y’all.