Zone Time: NHL stars need to step up and call out racism in hockey

If hockey wants to truly reckon with racism within the game, it needs its biggest NHL stars to speak up and set the tone when there are incidents of racists behaviour on the ice.

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Video Transcript

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Man, what's really-- it's weird to say disappointing because, again, it's not surprising. But that doesn't make it any less disappointing. It's just seeing some of the takes from people trying to justify the gesture, and I feel not enough people or I haven't seen anyone say that because of the fact that the gesture that Jacob Panetta did could be interpreted or in this case was interpreted as racist-- which it was. I saw it, and I thought, oh, it looks like a monkey.

I was explaining it to my sister, who does not watch hockey, doesn't really follow that stuff. And I tried to explain to her what was going on and showed her what-- I tried to replicate exactly what Panetta did. That's the first thing she thought of. There are other people who would think in the same way. Remember, the heat of the moment too.

So how come no one suggested that, you know what? No one should do that pose anymore. How come everyone is trying-- not everyone. But why are there people out here who are so ardent about defending this particular pose? Why are people so quick to be like, man, we really need to ensure that future generations of hockey people can do a tough guy pose to stand off after a fight in the middle of the ice.

I just find-- it's just the goalpost moving and the leaps and bounds that people want to do to ensure that race is not an issue or something that they try to erase, when we know damn well it is a problem in the sport of hockey. And we're not surprised by it. We're not shocked by it.

And people are trying to do everything that they can to erase it as a problem from the sport. But people are just like, no, you misinterpreted it the wrong way. It was a bodybuilder move. And people going on looking at Jacob Panetta being like, hey, everyone is just saying that he's guilty before innocent and all of that, like give me a frickin' break.

It's been exhausting to see. And I try to be as stoic as I can about this over the last few days, but it's just been really grating to see. And look, I get it. There are people who have stepped up in support of Jordan Subban. Some NHL players have. That being said, that is a whole other topic that I want to get into with this as well because, while there have been NHL teams and NHL players who have stepped up in support, I still think there are-- it's not sufficient for me, and not just in terms of the number, but in terms of the star power.

And I think because of the fact that-- I mean, look, this could change by the time you watch this. But Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby or some of those bigger names, they got to say something. At the end of the day, fine, we get it. There are guys like Braden Holtby or Jason Zucker or other players who may be on the fringe who-- Kurtis Gabriel, for example, who might care about that stuff, who might want to use their platforms.

But when we see in other leagues, whenever something really big happens, we see those bigger stars, those bigger athletes-- I think of the NBA-- who will step up and be like, no, this is wrong. In the NHL, if the league wants to show that it actually cares about making this problem go away about racism and having a zero tolerance thing, which they haven't said that, but if they want to get to that point, it can't just be the National Hockey League enacting rules and just the HDA. And I know that's star-studded with those people too, just enacting stuff.

It's the big name white people will have to step up and say, this is a problem too. They have to do it. They have to say something. Because at the end of the day, if it's just us on these podcasts just saying, hey, it's a problem, there's going to be people like Andrew Shaw, who, OK, not a superstar, but other bigger names like Andrew Shaw thinking the same thing too, thinking how could you see a gesture like this as racist? That's going to bring credence to those people.

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