PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Former Flyer Wayne Simmonds says this was a long time coming. And yet, it's not enough, just yet - but a good start.
The NHL announced new initiatives on Thursday to combat racism and promote inclusion in the league.
Simmonds has helped lead the way in this fight, helping to form the Hockey Diversity Alliance earlier this year after the death of George Floyd.
In a league in which minorities make up only 5% of its players, Simmonds says the key is representation and mentorship, to ensure that things get better.
Years ago, in an exhibition in Ontario, he had a banana peel thrown at him. He's had racial slurs uttered at him in other languages. At the time, he felt very alone and tells me the league's new efforts would've made a difference to him back then.
"Yeah, I think it would've been huge. I would've had somebody to lean on, that's why mentorship is huge. I could only imagine having another group of players who looked like myself there for me to lean on during those times when I kept to myself and it ate at me," he said.
"I'll say it over and over and over again. It's representation. If there's not players of color out there that are being seen, that are being promoted, pushed, the other kids aren't going to know that it's a possibility for them to become an NHL player, to become a doctor, whatever there is they want to become," Simmonds continued.
"Hatred is hatred, we're all one race, the human race, and I think people gloss by that, they start judging by your skin color, how you talk to the God you pray to, and I think that's wrong. Everyone should be treated equally regardless of those things. You put a blindfold on and you go talk to somebody you don't know the color of their skin, their religion, and you'll make your decision different," he said. "Judge a person by their inside not by their outside."
Fmr. Flyer Wayne Simmonds applauds NHL plan to fight racism and promote inclusion
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