After a fan told Sharks winger Evander Kane to "stick to basketball" in an Instagram comment, the 28-year-old took to the platform to criticize hockey's blind eye to racism.
Kane, who is black, wrote that another fan had "shouted" that to him at Denver's Pepsi Center during Game 4 of San Jose's Stanley Cup playoff second-round series with the Colorado Avalanche.
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This is what I’m talking about, happens all the time just never publicly talked about and just ignored. This exact thing was shouted at me in the penalty box in Denver during game 4. It’s racially motivated, IT IS a problem in society and in SPORTS. There is focus on racism in football, basketball and baseball. But in the Hockey world it’s easier to ignore, dismiss and forget because let’s face the facts hockey is a white sport. But there are black players in the league and other minorities in our sport. Time to notice it, and give it the attention it deserves. The old way of thinking is done!
When a commenter wrote that Kane should not "let stupid s--t bother you and move on," the Sharks star replied that his post wasn't just about this instance.
The NHL was the last major sports league to integrate, and Sports Business Daily found that, at the start of last season, fewer than 5 percent of NHL players were people of color. Black players, such as former Shark Joel Ward and current New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, have faced racist abuse on social media. A few fans were banned from attending games in Chicago in 2018 after chanting "Basketball, basketball, basketball" at then-Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly, and current Devils forward Wayne Simmonds had a banana thrown at him during a preseason game in 2011.
The league has made efforts to root out racism in the sport. Willie O'Ree, the league's first black player, long has been at the forefront of the NHL's efforts to bring the sport into underserved and underprivileged communities. In 2017, the NHL hired Kim Davis as its executive vice president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs. Davis, a black woman who worked for over two decades at JPMorgan Chase, was a driving force behind a traveling museum that highlighted contributions of black players and coaches to the sport during a nationwide tour in February.
Davis told The Undefeated in March that she felt her hiring said "a lot about ... the sport's willingness to embrace differences and change." The racist comment Kane highlighted indicates just how far there still is to go.