The Runner Sports

Detroit Red Wings: Hockey Is For Everyone

The Detroit Red Wings have been thrust into the spotlight and not in the most positive of ways. On Saturday, August 12, a white supremacist group from Virginia used a slightly altered winged wheel as part of a demonstration. The Red Wings responded quickly condemning the action and assuring fans that they will look into legal actions. The very timely response was met with a lot of support from Detroit fans as well as other hockey fans, even fans from rival teams.

A lot has been said and will continue to be said about these groups. I am not going to talk about that.  Instead, I am going to talk about about about how the Detroit Red Wings don’t just say hockey is for everyone. They mean it.

February is the NHL’s Hockey is For Everyone Month.  The NHL has events that are aimed to raise awareness and funds to promote equality throughout the National Hockey League. The NHL says that it wants to use its global influence to help promote positive social change.  Any fan, player, or coach that shows passion for the sport is welcome, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.  So basically, the exact opposite of what the group that was in Virginia stands for.

Each NHL team picks an ambassador. That ambassador serves as a diversity leader both in the locker room and in the community. The 2016-17 ambassador for Detroit was Frans Nielsen.  The NHL does league-wide events and each team also picks events and charities.

Last year, the Wings surprised a Detroit hockey team for athletes with physical or developmental challenges. The Michigan FAR Flyers attended a Red Wings practice at the Joe Louis Arena. After the practice, they were presented with new equipment from Warrior hockey.

During the February 18 game, players used special pride tape on their sticks during the warm up. After the game, the sticks were auctioned off with all the proceeds going to You Can Play, which is a charity for LGTBQ athletes.

There was also a share your story initiative where fans were invited to share how hockey has made a positive impact in their lives on social media with special filters. On February 21, the Wings invited 50 VIP athletes that represented diversity in the sport of hockey to enjoy a special tour of the Joe Louis Arena and to watch the morning practice.

The NHL and the Detroit Red Wings have a year long partnership with RISE (Rose Initiative for Sports Equality) and during the ‘Hockey is for Everyone’ awareness game, they had representatives around the game to give fans information about what they do and how they help promote equality in all sports.

The Detroit Red Wings also participate in a school assembly program that brings hockey to schools that might not have access to the sport.  Each school that they visit receives:

  • two full sets of floor hockey equipment
  • a guide book for floor hockey for gym teachers
  • an interactive active folder for each student
  • a kit to help students explore the cultures that of the countries that the players come from.

The Winged Wheel in any form has no business being anywhere near anything spewing so much hate. Detroit hockey has a legacy that the Winged Wheel is tied to and it doesn’t deserve to be tied to this in any way.

Allison Barbersek
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Allison Barbersek

Writer at The Runner Sports
I love animals and hockey, espeically the wings. I live in the Great Lakes Bay Area of Michigan.
Allison Barbersek
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  • Pamela and Rick

    Nice article