NHL defends diversity progress amid critiques

NHL defends diversity progress amid critiques

TORONTO — NHL executive Kim Davis says the league has made progress on the diversity front in response to criticism from a member of the Hockey Diversity Alliance.

Former player Akim Aliu told The Canadian Press he is disappointed in how Davis and the league have not taken advantage of their chances, echoing comments he and current player Nazem Kadri have said about the HDA’s fractured relationship with the NHL.

“I’ve been in the business of change work in major corporations for over 40 years,” said Davis, who was hired in 2017 as executive vice president for social impact and growth initiatives. “I don’t need to be affirmed by Akim. What affirms me is progress. The point at hand is young people and growing the game. I thought that’s what [the HDA] was about, not talking about what I am or am not doing.”

Aliu said it was “extremely disappointing” and added that the league has actively tried to silence the organization that was founded in 2020.

“They essentially bring you in and buy you, in a way, to silence you,” Aliu said. “We were a group that would not be silenced.”

Davis and the NHL pushed back on that sentiment, pointing out that, along with funding, there have been eight player-led initiatives since last summer, including learn-to-play clinics, ball hockey programs and mentorship sessions.

“Diversity is not a monolith,” Davis said. “Diversity has many tentacles. I honestly don’t know what the disconnect is.”