The NHL and the NHLPA on Tuesday announced the launch of the Player Inclusion Coalition that will aim to diversify the sport.

The program includes 20 members with “a range of perspectives across players of color, LGBTQ+ Players, and allies” who will “work to advance equality and inclusion in the sport of hockey on and off the ice,” the league said.

“Every member of the NHL Player Inclusion Coalition shares a passion to bring diversity and inclusion to the forefront of the hockey community. It has been incredible to work together to amplify the role of Players as advisors, ambassadors, and catalysts for real change, which benefits underrepresented groups in the game,” said co-chair Anson Carter, who played in 674 NHL games. “As we enter the coalition’s next phase, we are excited to grow our impact by sharing more of our work with fans to invite everyone who loves hockey to join the movement with us.”

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“It’s no secret that this is a sport that struggles with diversity and inclusion sometimes,” retired U.S. star Meghan Duggan, a member of the coalition who is gay, said at an event in Nashville, Tennessee. “That’s why this group is here: to continue to push, to continue to make recommendations, to continue to have players step up and be public allies.”

“Ignorance is just not an excuse anymore,” Duggan continued. “We have so many resources at our fingertips to understand: ‘What is the terminology for the queer community? What is the acronym? What are different, politically correct ways to address certain groups?’ The education is out there for people to understand, not necessarily exactly how to relate to someone from a marginalized community, but just how they can be an ally.”

Gary Bettman in March 2023

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman speaks at a press conference prior to a game between the Florida Panthers and Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on March 27, 2023 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Chris Tanouye/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

The forming of the program comes just days after the NHL opted to no longer where Pride, or any other themed jerseys during warmups due to the “distractions” brought upon with LGBTQ+-themed uniforms during warmups. However, Commissioner Gary Bettman said themed nights will still take place, and players could still model said jerseys – it just won’t be happening on the ice.

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“We’re not going to roll over and not celebrate Pride nights and not welcome that community into hockey,” Duggan said. “We’re just going to do an even bigger event.”

Gary Bettman at Target Field

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman addresses the media during a press conference for the NHL Winter Classic between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild at Target Field on Sept. 27, 2021 in Minneapolis. (David Berding/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Bettman said the goal of the coalition was to “provide the NHL with insights regarding equality and inclusivity that only the players can give us.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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