The first NHL player to kneel in the name of social justice, the Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba says he didn't mean any disrespect with his actions on Saturday.
Dumba dropped to one knee for the "Star-Spangled Banner" before the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks played each other in the first game of the Western Conference qualifying round. Before doing so, the 26-year-old delivered an impassioned speech on racism and acceptance in the sport while wearing a Hockey Diversity Alliance sweatshirt.
"I know why I knelt and it wasn’t a sign of disrespect by any means," Dumba said on a conference call with reporters Sunday, according to Sportsnet. "It was to shed light on the people who’ve lived through injustice and oppression, especially in my home state of Minnesota."
Malcolm Subban of the Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Oilers, both Black players as well, placed their hands on Dumba's shoulders while he knelt.
Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba takes a knee during the national anthem flanked by Edmonton Oilers' Darnell Nurse, right, and Chicago Blackhawks' Malcolm Subban before an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff game. (Photo: JASON FRANSON, AP)
Dumba's lone regret, he confessed, was not remaining on a knee for the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada."
"There needs to be a lot of light that has to be shed on what is happening in Canada and the oppression First Nations have felt for hundreds of years," he said. "I have First Nations and Aboriginal families that have lived it and I was disappointed looking back on it."
Going forward, Dumba will no longer be kneeling and will instead raise his right arm in the air — for both anthems.
"Something that I can stay consistent through," he told reporters. "Talking with (teammate J.T. Brown), if you’re not on that starting lineup you might be on the bench and if I take a knee on the bench you might not see me."
Three years ago, Brown, who was on the Tampa Bay Lightning, raised his first during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racism.
And prior to the Wild's 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, Dumba was in line with a fist toward the sky.
Matt Dumba (@matt_dumba) raises his fist during the National Anthems tonight. #WeSkateFor Equality pic.twitter.com/c9Kc12Fwk4
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
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