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Lightning Round: NHLers announce formation of Hockey Diversity Alliance

And NHL Awards ballots have been sent to the PHWA.

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames
CALGARY, CANADA - APRIL 7: Akim Aliu #29 of the Calgary Flames skates to the bench after socring his first NHL goal against the Anaheim Ducks on April 7, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images

Hockey Diversity Alliance

A group of seven black current and former NHL players have announced the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization separate from the NHL whose mission is to ”eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.” Founded by Alim Aliu and Evander Kane, with Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart, and Joel Ward on the executive committee.

The group will “promote diversity at all levels of the game through community outreach and engagement with youth and will endeavor to make the game more affordable and accessible.” The insurmountable cost of playing the game, especially in Canada, cuts out many in society and has often created an insular community that is vulnerable to racism. This, among many other aspects of systemic racism, have been the focal point of the statements made by these founding players, some of their teammates, and people in and out of sport alike.

“In creating our alliance, we are confident we can inspire a new generation of hockey players and fans. We are hopeful that anyone who puts on skates or sits in the stands will do so without worrying about race, gender, or socioeconomic background and will be able to express their culture, identity, values, and personality without fear of retribution.”

This quote above echoes from Aliu’s Players Tribune article where he tells his story of being inspired by hockey, but falling victim to socioeconomic struggles and anti-black racism. If you haven’t yet read his story, you should.

The HDA has strong support in the hockey community and has plans to grow their members with the inclusion of black and other minority women. Saroya Tinker of the NWHL has publically expressed interest and “moves are being made y’all, don’t fret!”

And yes, I have high hopes that JT Brown will be among those names joining the Alliance.

NHL Awards

Ballots were sent to all the participating members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association (PHWA). Without surprise, fights and factions began to form over who will win various awards this year.

During this melee, many quirks about the voting base came to the fore. In the past, many (older) members have said don’t pay attention to players outside their local team until the last quarter or so of the season. Seeing as that quarter of the season didn’t happen, I wonder how they’re going to vote. Like most years, it’s probably going to come down to politics and lobbying, where one player arbitrarily “gains traction” and “runs away” with the trophy.

Another quirk revealed yesterday was that Pierre LeBrun believes being among the top half of the teams in the league instantly puts you in or out of the Hart Trophy race, even though it is an individual award.

I cannot fathom for a second why this logic passes. Unless you’re a goalie — and no one ever votes for goalies, which I still don’t get why — no matter how strong of a season you’ve had, you won’t be dragging a terrible team into the playoffs on your own. Edmonton from the past decade should be example enough. Buffalo and Jack Eichel this year! Artemi Panarin and the Rangers (who still haven’t made a statement against anti-black racism) from this year is another example!

This kind of team bias where a situation out of the control of a player is weighed against them is unfathomably stupid and I’d be unsurprised if this is how most of the Awards voting bloc thinks. Yet another reason to not take PHWA awards seriously. The Ted Lindsay (best player as voted on by the players) will always carry more weight than the Hart, or any other trophy for that matter.

Around the League

The NHL still has a long way to go before it is ready to play hockey games again. Despite the introduction of Phase 2 on Monday, Phase 3 has been delayed until August at the earliest. Chris Johnston has all the hangups in his story:

When play ultimately resumes, the Vancouver Canucks don’t know whether to be young and fast or old and slow. In my unbiased opinion, old and slow works great, trust me.

The Buffalo Sabres are trying to drum up interest in their overrated defenseman, Rasmus Ristolainen. So naturally they looked north to Toronto.

Long story short, Eugene Melnyk has been stealing money from his Foundation and that is why they’re running away from him. “What would you think if a charity raised nearly a million dollars but spent less than half a cent of every dollar raised on the causes it was supposed to support? Hold that thought.”

They’re over $15,000 at last count.

The Arizona Coyotes announced Xavier A. Gutierrez as their new team President, CEO, and Alternate Governor yesterday. Gutierrez is the first Latino team President & CEO in NHL history. The changes comes after Alex Meruelo, a Cuban-American billionaire, bought the team in July of 2019.

“Mr. Meruelo and I share the same vision to make the Coyotes a world class organization that is innovative in our efforts to connect with and grow our fan base, continue to be a leader in our community, and develop great relationships with our business partners.”

Last But Not Least

A challenge: FIND THE CAT!