Two wingers with Flyers ties are among the newly formed Hockey Diversity Alliance, which is attempting to fight racism in the sport.
The seven-man alliance was announced Monday, and it includes Buffalo’s Wayne Simmonds, a former Flyer, and Chris Stewart, who has played with the Flyers and AHL’s Phantoms this season.
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The alliance was formed two weeks after the death of George Floyd, an African American, who was pinned to the ground by a white Minneapolis police officer who had his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. The killing started global protests about racial disparities in policing and other matters.
San Jose’s Evander Kane and former NHL player Akim Aliu were named co-heads of the hockey diversity group, which also includes Minnesota’s Matt Dumba, Detroit’s Trevor Daley, and the recently retired Joel Ward.
In a news release, the group said the members came together as minorities and wanted to “eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey. We will strive to be a force for a positive change, not only with our game of hockey, but also within society."
The group, which plans to promote diversity at all levels of the game, is independent of the NHL, though it said it hoped to work productively with the league to accomplish important changes.
Simmonds, one of the best black players in NHL history, got interested in hockey as a youngster because he was inspired by Willie O’Ree. O’Ree broke the NHL’s color barrier in 1958, and Simmonds said he used to write book reports on him when he was in school.
The Hockey Diversity Alliance said it wanted to inspire a “new generation of hockey players and fans.”
Hockey is back. Sort of.
A handful of Flyers returned to their Voorhees practice facility Monday for small-group workouts, another step toward resuming the season, which was paused March 12 because of the coronavirus outbreak.
Sean Couturier, Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Samuel Morin were believed to be among the players at the Skate Zone for voluntary workouts. All have been in the area during the season’s delay.
The Flyers would not give the names of the participants. The NHL and the players association recommended teams not divulge the participants, apparently believing it would cast a negative light on those not there.
Most of the Flyers remained at home in Canada and Europe, where they are skating and working out. Those players are expected to return to the area as the start of training camp gets closer. The NHL has not given a date for when camps will start, saying only that they will begin July 10 at the earliest.
Fans and the media were not permitted in the building Monday, and coaches and front-office members were allowed only to watch but were not permitted on the ice.
The players’ temperatures must be checked daily, and they will be tested at least twice a week for the coronavirus.
The season is expected to resume at some point in August, and the Flyers will compete in a three-game, round-robin format against Boston, Tampa Bay, and Washington.