It's no secret that hockey is the least racially diverse among the four major American sports, as NHL rosters only featured 5.7 percent Black, Indigenous or people of color per Yahoo Sports. The NBA (83.1 percent), NFL (69.4 percent) and MLB (39.8 percent) all have much more representation among those groups.
In speaking with NBC Sports California's Brodie Brazil on Monday, NBC Sports NHL analyst Anson Carter explains how the predominantly white sport and its fans can be better allies to the Black community.
"It all comes down to listening," Carter said on "Sharks Pregame Live." "I always tell my friends, diverse networks and diverse groups will lead to diverse solutions. You're there in the valley, in Silicon Valley, there's nothing more diverse than Silicon Valley, and the brain power you have there with people from all different walks of life, and all the amazing things they've been able to build because of that.
"People like yourselves that are allies, that are stewards of the game, and are willing to listen and understand that it might not be something that affects you, but if I tell you something Brodie, and it affects me, at least give me the courtesy to listen to what I'm saying and try to understand my point of view so you might understand where I'm coming from and my point of view."
The discussions might be uncomfortable, but Carter knows change doesn't truly manifest unless there is some uneasy dialogue.
"The more we have these conversations, it's like developing a muscle, the easier these conversations become. But we weren't having these conversations before, so we didn't know what was right from wrong. You take it back to when you were a child going to school Brodie, you weren't afraid to raise your hand if your teacher asked a question, that's how you would learn.
"But when we have these conversations about diversity and inclusion, nobody was raising their hand. We weren't having these conversations. So yes you're going to make some mistakes along the way, but can we learn from those mistakes in order to see that growth. I think that's where we're at right now, we're willing to have these conversations but they're not going to be comfortable."
Sharks winger Evander Kane is one of the current NHL players pushing to have more of these exchanges, as he is the founder and co-head of the Hockey Diversity Alliance alongside former NHL player Akim Aliu. The HDA aims to "eradicate systemic racism and intolerance in hockey" according to the group's website.
In order to continue the growth of the great sport of hockey, it needs a more diverse group of players, executives and fans following and supporting. As Carter emphasized, this process only can continue through open and honest communication.