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Growing the Game: BGHC, NHL Diversity and Inclusion Update and More

Ian Kennedy discusses the NHL's Diversity and Inclusion report with Kim Davis and reports on the launch of Black Girl Hockey Club in Canada, the PWHPA and more.
Toronto Six

Saroya Tinker is a Toronto Six defender who's also the executive director of Black Girl Hockey Club in Canada, launching Saturday, Nov. 12.

Growing The Game is Ian Kennedy’s weekly feature examining the global game, how social issues impact the sport, and how hockey’s important cultural shift continues to evolve.

NHL Diversity and Inclusion Report Expected To Be Every Two Years: Kim Davis

Last week, I had the chance to talk to Kim Davis, the NHL’s executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs. She confirmed that the NHL’s recent report on diversity and inclusion would be a biennial report. 

“It would be our expectation to do that same kind of reporting, and hold ourselves accountable every two years,” Davis said, stating the NHL was already working on their next report to come in 2024.

Davis acknowledged the league has a lot of work to do but said that leadership will continue to “lean in” to making change for fans, attracting newcomers to the game, to reduce barriers and shift culture.

“It is our responsibility to make sure we lean into that,” Davis said of the NHL’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

“System change requires a system approach,” she continued. “It’s very easy to look from the outside and say, ‘That’s not going right,’ and ‘They could do better,’ but turning big tankers around is not for the faint of heart – it takes real work and it takes it every single day. Some days are better than others, but you have to keep leaning into it.”

According to Davis, the NHL hopes to bring in more BIPOC players in the coming seasons by supporting initiatives aimed to create space for, and support these athletes.

“We have the responsibility to make sure we do everything, starting with inside of our own sport, to put the mechanisms in place to be able to create an environment where we can bring the best talent both on and off the ice,” Davis said.

Donating Sticks and Equipment To Reduce Barriers

The cost of hockey, specifically ice time and equipment, continues to rise. During the pandemic, inflation saw these costs tick even higher. In recent weeks, two major organizations in Ontario stepped up to donate sticks and equipment to organizations and individuals in need, to help reduce the economic barriers to the game.

Roustan Hockey, whose “mission is to grow the game of hockey by making hockey more affordable so that hockey is truly for everyone” donated 1000 Christian brand sticks and two sets of McKenney goalie equipment to Hockey Equality, a group run by former NHLer Anthony Stewart. Hockey Equality is working to diversify hockey by providing programming, mentorship, and support for BIPOC and women in hockey. (Disclosure: Roustan Hockey is owned by W. Graeme Roustan, who also owns The Hockey News.)

The Ontario Minor Hockey Association also stepped up announcing this month they’ll donate 170 CCM player and goalie equipment sets to support youth across the province. Through their Player and Goalie Assist program, the OMHA hopes to “make it easier for new hockey families to fall in love with the sport without facing any financial barriers or having to make the commitment to purchase new equipment.”

PWHPA Prepares For Third Dream Gap Stop

The PWHPA’s third event of the season will take place Nov. 26-27 in Pittsburgh. Recently, the PWHPA also played a Canada versus USA Rivalry Series game in the city.

“The city of Pittsburgh, as well as the Penguins, have been great supporters of the PWHPA so we’re thrilled to be heading back in November,” said PWHPA Operations Consultant Jayna Hefford.

“With the success of our Rivalry Rematch game earlier this year, we know there’s a huge appetite for elite women’s hockey in Pittsburgh, so we know this will be a great weekend for both the fans and our athletes. We’re also excited to be involved with the ‘Burgh Girls Fest’ tournament throughout the weekend— by providing young players visibility and access to the best hockey players in the world, we’re continuing our goal of growing the game.”

Black Girl Hockey Club Canada Set To Launch

This Saturday, Nov. 12, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart) will host an on-ice free skate at Scotiabank Pond to officially welcome the Black Girl Hockey Club (BGHC) to Canada.

“Black Girl Hockey Club, a non-profit organization, aims to make hockey more inclusive for Black women, their families, friends, and allies, and encourage more participation in hockey from Black youth,” said in a news release by Saroya Tinker, executive director of BGHC Canada and defender with the PHF’s Toronto Six. “The non-profit is now expanding into Canada, and we’re thrilled to partner with Jumpstart – a charity that provides access to sport for all kids – as our title sponsor for the next three years,” said Tinker.

According to the news release, BGHC “is launching in Canada to inspire and sustain a passion for the game of hockey within the Black community. BGHC will work to prevent exclusion in hockey based on race, gender, sexuality, or ability in the face of institutional racism, financial gatekeeping, and program access.”

Transition Game: A Deep Dive into GTHL Inclusion Efforts

This week, the Carnegie Initiative, NHL, NHLPA, MLSE, GTHL, and Toronto Metropolitan University collaborated to host an event called Transition Game in Toronto. The event was held on what would have been Herb Carnegie’s 103rd birthday and aimed to “engage players, parents, partners, coaches, sports leaders, and other stakeholders in important conversations around the growth of inclusion and acceptance in hockey.”

Keynote speakers at the event included Ted Nolan, Karl Subban, Anthony Stewart, Sheldon Kennedy and Scott Oakman.

In the words of Bernice Carnegie, Herb’s daughter and the co-founder of The Carnegie Initiative, the event was designed to faciliate “challenging discussions and create solutions for how to make significant change in the sport my father loved, and so many others loved, despite it not always being welcoming.”

In other words, Carnegie hopes the event will serve to grow the game for all.

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