Former Flyer Wayne Simmonds among Hockey Diversity Alliance founders

Dave Uram
June 09, 2020 - 11:47 am
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray (30) and Buffalo Sabres right wing Wayne Simmonds (17) look for the puck during the second period at KeyBank Center.

Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) -- Former Flyers fan favorite Wayne Simmonds, and current Flyer Chris Stewart, are two of seven current and former professional hockey players who formed the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an independent group whose goal is “to eradicate racism and intolerance in hockey.”

“As minorities who play professional hockey, we have come together to create the Hockey Diversity Alliance (HDA). We have appointed Akim Aliu and Evander Kane as our co-heads, and our executive committee include Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart and Joel Ward,” the official statement said.

Their plan is to promote diversity at all levels of hockey through community outreach and engagement, educating the community about racism and pushing for equality. In the coming weeks, they will start a charitable division as well. 

Simmonds, who currently is on the Buffalo Sabres, told NBC Sports Philadelphia’s John Clark, “I think my message has been more just education. Ask one of your minority teammates what they’ve gone through to get to this point.”

In 2011, during an exhibition game in London, Ontario, a banana peel was thrown towards Simmonds. During the 2012 NHL lockout, Simmonds was playing in the Czech Republic and heard racist chants during one of his games.

“It gets kinda lonely when you’re the only black face on the team or minority face on the team. So, to me, it’s important, if you’re trying to help the cause, you kinda gotta know where we’re coming from and, at the same time, not be silent, and kinda help us push this forward. Because, at the end of the day, we’re all one, and we’re all striving for the same thing, which is equality in our social world,” Simmonds told Clark.

Simmonds says he believes that “silence is violence.”

“We know it’s going to be an uncomfortable situation, conversation, but I think for us to advance these talks, we’re gonna have to have tough talks.”