Former NHL goalie and current NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes has experienced racism in the hockey world since he laced up the skates and started his hockey journey in the Greater Toronto Hockey League. The Toronto native not only wound up playing in 348 NHL games but he followed up his NHL career as a player to become the first black broadcaster and a powerful and recognized voice in the media.
When NHL star players like Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, as well as Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and former Bruin and current Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin started posting heartfelt messages condemning the George Floyd murder, Weekes, 45, was absolutely stunned. To see these prominent voices in the normally reserved NHL that has turned a blind eye to the racism that exists within its rinks, not just speak up for racial equality and an end to police brutality, not just post messages but in the case of Chara and Seguin, march in protests, left Weekes shocked with gratitude.
“By having people like ‘Zee’ [Chara], who I played with, as a well as the great Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Bergeron, these are a few you’re talking about, a few I’ve been in touch with and many more I’ve been in touch with, to hear them advocating and standing strong with us and being unified, as hockey people and hockey players and within the business in different roles, I never thought I’d see the day,” Weekes said on the latest Bruins Craic podcast.
“It’s amazing! I’m so grateful,” he added.
This sudden racial awareness in the NHL has moved Weekes who like other black players trying to make it in hockey, had advocates but sadly detractors who would advocate against him simply because of his color and not how many shots he can keep out of the net. Racism still exists in the NHL but Weekes is hopeful that more awareness and progress will be made.
“It’s really the wind beneath your wings, at least for me having been a black player as long as I have been and then being the first black broadcaster in NHL history in 91 years, Weekes said. “So, when you have different people and to be very clear, there have been a lot of people who have been advocates of mine that have treated my family and I really well. So many to mention, Jim Rutherford, Lou Lamoriello, Glen Sather, Commissioner [Gary] Bettman, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Rod Brind’Amour, Ron Francis, Mike Rupp.
There’s too many to mention all of them but some of the time you have the knuckleheads too and the knuckleheads, unfortunately, they have a big impact and they can have an impact negatively on your career, needlessly on your reputation, on contract negotiations, all that type of stuff. So, I always like to give a balanced outlook and I want to give people credit because there are a lot of them, and then the knuckleheads, I won’t dignify them by naming them but they need to be out of the game.”
For more on Weekes journey through a hockey world that too many times wouldn’t speak up against racism, CLICK HERE!