NEW YORK, SPRINGFIELD, Mass., & PRINCETON, N.J. … As part of committed efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in hockey, the National Hockey League (NHL®), American Hockey League (AHL), and ECHL today announced that the AHL, ECHL and their Member Clubs will join Hockey is For Everyone™, the NHL’s year-long initiative in conjunction with the National Hockey League Players’ Association to emphasize that the official policy of the sport is one of supporting and prioritizing inclusion on the ice, in locker rooms, boardrooms and stands. With the AHL and ECHL joining Hockey is For Everyone™, the campaign will reach new fans as the initiative adds 51 new markets across North America.
Hockey is For Everyone™ focuses on awareness and activities with organizations that celebrate all people who play or watch hockey, including fans of every race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and those with disabilities. AHL and ECHL League and team-wide Hockey is For Everyone™ efforts will be showcased at games through Hockey is For Everyone™ game nights, on social media, and in local communities through grassroots initiatives in the seasons ahead, including for Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Gender Equality Month and Pride Month. Specific details on AHL and ECHL efforts will be released in the coming months.
With the AHL and ECHL joining Hockey is For Everyone™, this expands on each league’s involvement in hockey’s Declaration of Principles, which focuses on the alignment of top hockey leagues around a set of aspirational and shared values, and that hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Hockey’s Declaration of Principles states: Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders – organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operations – play a role in this effort. The Principles are meant to serve as an internal compass to help guide decisions and shift behaviors of hockey organizations, as well as players, parents, coaches, fans, partners and all those who represent and care for the sport of hockey.
“We’re thrilled to have two of the premier hockey developmental leagues in the world join the Hockey is For Everyone initiative as the campaign continues to grow, and we continually look to make the sport of hockey more diverse, inclusive and welcoming for all,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Legislative Affairs. “The NHL has an unwavering commitment to giving opportunities to all people across the globe, and we will we use the NHL’s influence to push forward vital social change that is needed in today’s society and ensure that hockey is for everyone.”
“The American Hockey League and our teams are proud to continue our efforts in support of the NHL to make the game of hockey more accessible for fans everywhere,” said Scott Howson, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “AHL teams and players have always strived to be influential members of their communities, and our commitment to the ideals of Hockey is For Everyone will strengthen and reinforce those efforts. We greatly value our partnership with the NHL and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure that the many faces of our fan base are welcome in our arenas and can take part in this great game.”
“It is our honor to join the Hockey is For Everyone platform with our partners at the National Hockey League and American Hockey League,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “While we work together with the NHL/AHL on the ice, our commitment off the ice to growing our sport and creating a welcoming environment to celebrate our diversity across the game of hockey is a key pillar of who we are in our communities. Under this great initiative, the ECHL looks forward to furthering existing programs and creating new ones throughout our markets that celebrates the diversity in our league and embraces our togetherness.”
Hockey is For Everyone™ was born from the NHL Diversity Task Force, created in 1995 to assist non-profit hockey organizations across North America that provide opportunities to underrepresented, underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. The following year, Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL, held his first annual Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend, which is still active today. O’Ree was officially hired by the League in 1998 and is an ambassador for positive social change through hockey. Thereafter, the NHL began an annual campaign in the month of February to celebrate cultural diversity in the game, which expanded to include the numerous hockey fans and communities that represent every race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and those with disabilities. Beginning with the 2018-19 season, the Hockey is For Everyone™ campaign expanded again from one month to year-round, and includes key celebratory months – Black History Month (February), Gender Equality Month (March), Earth Month (April), LGBTQ+ and Pride Month (June) Hispanic Heritage Month (September) and Hockey Fights Cancer Month (November) with more on the horizon.