Colorado Avalanche Release Statement against Racial Injustice

13 Oct 1999: An exterior shot of the Pepsi Center before the game between Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated Bruins 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport
13 Oct 1999: An exterior shot of the Pepsi Center before the game between Boston Bruins and the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated Bruins 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport /

The Colorado Avalanche released a statement regarding the racial tension, protests, and violence occurring across the US.

The Colorado Avalanche, and the NHL as a whole, have spoken out against racism while the United States is in the midst of ongoing protests and violence in the wake of the George Floyd murder at the hands of a police officer.

Hockey… is not the most diverse of sports. Indeed, the hockey culture is based on homogeneity. I don’t want to state outright that it’s racially intolerant, but rather that this is a sport that won’t even let players use colorful tape.

I think it would be a lot to expect such a sport to come out with fists in their handles and BLM emblazoned across their banners.

However, the majority of teams did release a statement in response to the ongoing protests taking place across the country and even the world.

Here’s the one from the Colorado Avalanche:

To be honest, this statement was one of the more in-depth and thoughtful ones released by the NHL. Indeed, it was far more thoughtful than the one released by the NHL itself:

I mean, that’s not bad, but it’s not nearly as insightful as the one the Avs released. But I appreciate that the NHL not only released a statement, but also retweeted statements both by teams and players.

The Nashville Predators’ statement was especially in-depth:

The Minnesota Wild were the first team to release a statement — the murder happened in Minneapolis. Next came the San Jose Sharks, where Evander Kane plays. After that came other NHL teams on May 31, yesterday.

At the time of writing, the following teams had not released a statement:

  • Boston Bruins (captain Zdeno Chara did on Instagram)
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Tampa Bay Lightning (retweeted a statement from Tampa player Mathieu Joseph)
  • Washington Capitals (retweeted statement from Monumental Sports & Entertainment)
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets (captain Nick Foligno tweeted a statement)
  • Winnipeg Jets (retweeted player Blake Wheeler’s statement)
  • New York Rangers (player Ty Ronning tweeted about George Floyd)
  • Florida Panthers
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Ottawa Senators (retweeted Senators player Anothony Duclair’s tweet)
  • Detroit Red Wings

As I was typing that list above, I noticed that only three out of seven Canadian teams didn’t make an official statement while 12 American teams did not, including teams in cities where major protests are happening.

Players such as JT Brown, Evander Kane, and PK Subban, all black players, unsurprisingly tweeted messages about racism and the current movement against police brutality on black people. We talked about in a previous post, though, how the perception is that white players need to speak out, too.

A few did, as noted above. Additionally, Avs player Colin Wilson released the following Instagram message:

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I’m not even remotely surprised Wilson released such a statement. Unfortunately, I’m not too surprised that no other Avs player has released a statement, though Nazem Kadri did retweet the Avalanche’s statement.

The image way above of the Colorado Avalanche’s statement came from their Facebook because that happens to be where I saw it first. Scrolling through the comments, there were a few “Stay out of politics” comments — I’m not sure how “Don’t be racist” is political, but ok — but the majority were positive. Twitter is a different matter and I want to draw attention to something fans there brought up.

On January 18, before the Colorado Avalanche hosted the St. Louis Blues, the team held a memorial for Kendrick Castillo, the Hispanic teenager who sacrificed his life during a school shooting to save his classmates. After the ceremonial puck drop, the team then flashed the Blue Lives Matter flag onto the ice:

The rationale was to honor some police officers who were killed in the line of duty — their names came up after the flag was shown.

The Blue Lives Matter flag is not, as some people think, meant to symbolize support of law enforcement. The Blue Lives Matter movement is a direct countermovement to Black Lives Matter. The flag is a literal counterpoint to Black Lives Matter. It’s also been incorporated by some groups to promote racial profiling and other racist policies — that’s not why it was developed, but it has come to symbolize such practices.

I’d like to think whomever organized the pregame ceremony was simply ignorant to what the Blue Lives Matter flag symbolizes and thought it was to support law enforcement.

Anyway, I wanted to bring it up because that was a misstep by the game entertainment organizer. The team as a whole made a different statement yesterday.

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Is it enough? Nothing is enough until we’ve ended racism and other disgusting -isms. However, the Colorado Avalanche did more than a lot of teams could be bothered to do. I wish more players would have stood up and said something, but I’m not surprised they didn’t.

That doesn’t mean we, as fans, cannot. So, I’m going to say it. Racism has no place in hockey. Racism has no place in the world.