Phase 3 of the National Hockey League’s Return To Play plan began on Monday, July 13. In many ways, the insights from practice were much the same as they ever were. Forwards rushed against the defenders, goaltenders were in net for penalty practice, and players were available for post-practice media. However, there were some differences, small and not-so-small, that made this training camp different from that of years past.
Staff, including Rick Bowness, wore masks behind the bench and throughout the rink. Interviews with players and coaches were done via video conference instead of the locker room huddle. And players spoke on subjects that didn’t involve sticks and pucks.
Tyler Seguin was one of those athletes. When asked about Black Lives Matter, Seguin shared his thoughts behind his post, his presence at the protests and vigil, and his plans going forward:
Tyler Seguin spoke today about Black Lives Matter. Here is one of his responses during his conversation with reporters today. pic.twitter.com/hx0n36YD8f— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) July 14, 2020
At the beginning of June, Seguin was among the first NHL players to share on his platform his thoughts on his privilege as a white man in a predominantly white sport. He followed that three days later by attending the silent vigil for George Floyd and Black Lives Matter protest held in downtown Dallas.
Now that hockey is back, Seguin is adamant that the issues of racial inequality and continued support for Black Lives Matter not fall by the wayside. Seguin acknowledged, “I have a platform, no matter how small that platform is, to make a difference.” Based on his comments, it appears that he plans to capitalize on that to effect a change. Seguin has talked over the years to the media about his involvement in the Dallas community and desire to give back to the city that has become his home. That local involvement will continue, in addition to involvement with nationwide initiatives.
Seguin also mentioned that he is going to be part of both local and national initiatives, including one through the NHL. Said it's something he can do more with when fans are in the building and he's not in Alberta in a bubble.— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) July 14, 2020
Seguin has furthered the conversation around race and sports, most critically by talking with and listening to black athletes and then taking action based on those discussions. With his platform, contacts, and passion for giving back, fans can be confident that, when revealed, those initiatives will also continue the conversation, while creating opportunities, access, and advantages that hadn’t previously been available.
It’s clear from Seguin’s comments that he isn’t going to let this work for change be a moment instead of a lasting movement. Changes at the judicial, state, and city level have begun to appear in the six weeks since George Floyd’s death, which sparked lasting protests around the world. Motions have been put forward to amend law enforcement budgets, police officers have slowly been held accountable for their actions, and citizens have reached out to their local and federal representatives and multiple foundations (such as Black Lives Matter) to find out what else can be done to enact change.
In a time when who you are away from the spotlight matters just as much as (if not more than) who you are in it, athletes of all sports have led the way with speaking out, using their platforms to support Black Lives Matter, and called for their fans to join them in their efforts. One has only to look as far as the moving footage of NASCAR drivers and pit crews walking in solidarity with Bubba Wallace to know that sporting professionals are acutely aware of their ability to lead the charge for change. Seguin is one of those athletes and, if his comments to the media yesterday are any indication, he isn’t shying away from that responsibility and role of inspiration for others. And that’s something fans of any team can get behind.