BOSTON (CBS) — Former Bruins winger and current Dallas Star Tyler Seguin has taken significant steps in educating himself on racial inequality in America, progress which was made clear after the murder of George Floyd, which took place during the NHL’s shutdown.
On Monday night, Seguin took another step on that journey by taking a knee during the playing of both the American and Canadian national anthems, prior to Dallas’ game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Seguin, who was the No. 2 overall pick by the Bruins in 2010 and helped the team win the Stanley Cup as a rookie, took a knee on the blue line along with teammate Jason Dickinson as well as Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner of the Golden Knights.
Seguin, 28, said that Reaves approached him during warmups to ask if he would join him in taking a knee in protest.
“I was giving it a lot of thought, kind of in the last 24 hours, on what to do,” Seguin said after the Stars lost 5-3 to the Golden Knights. “And I talked to Reaves in warmups, and he said he’s kind of seen what I was doing in Dallas and said that him and Lehner were going to kneel, and if I’d like to join him. And I said absolutely, and I joined him. Before the game I went in the dressing room and just told everyone what I was doing, I told everyone there was absolutely no pressure to do anything. And Dickinson grabbed me and said he’d like to be a part of it and support his beliefs and my beliefs and support me as a teammate, and it was great to have him there as well.”
Dickinson, 25, told reporters that he has people of color in his family, and that joining Seguin in the demonstration was a “no-brainer.”
“I mean, Black Lives Matter, equality, justice, you pick the term. It doesn’t really matter,” Dickinson said when asked what his intended message was from kneeling. “I think I don’t need to sit here and take a stab at all the issues, but just educate yourself, look into things, watch documentaries, talk to people, really just learn. Try to open your mind a little bit. This is a big issue that needs to be addressed.”
“Yeah, Dicky said it perfect there. It’s a big issue that needs to be addressed,” Seguin said. “Something clearly we both believe in. I think tonight was the statement from us with what our actions were. I don’t know if we’re going to do that every night. If there’s other guys on teams or other Black players that are doing something, we’ll always give our support. And that was our statement tonight.”
Reaves, a 33-year-old native of Canada who’s played for U.S.-based NHL teams since 2010, explained why he made the decision to kneel.
“I definitely want to start by saying in no way am I trying to disrespect the flag or people who fought for this country. I have the utmost respect for everybody that’s gone over and fought and died for the freedom of this country. Bill Foley, our owner, is one of the best guys I ever met. He’s a military guy. So that’s not the message I’m trying to send,” Reaves said. “But at the same time, those people go across seas and they go to war, and families are torn apart in these wars for the freedom of this country, only to come back and find out that this country isn’t free for everybody. And I think that’s where I’m coming from. Not everybody is truly free in this country, and I think it’s starting to come to light a lot more now, especially with social media. It’s kind of blown up over the last year. So that’s kind of where I’m coming from.”
Lehner, a 29-year-old native of Sweden, said that he planned to take a knee prior to even talking to Reaves about it. When he was asked what inspired him to do so, Lehner said he regretted putting a Donald Trump sticker on his mask in 2017, “after seeing how divisive things have been.”
“But at the end of the day, this is not politics. This is human rights. It’s not about politics,” Lehner said. “I’ve been part of a conversation — everyone’s talking about conversation and education and listening — but it’s time to start doing something, not just let this be a news cycle and forget about it and do it all over again. Everyone should have the same chance in society, everyone should be treated the same. I’ve seen a lot growing up. I’ve seen — my family is of color — and what I’ve seen and how things are disgust me. And at the end of the day I think I love America, but there’s a bunch of things that needs to be corrected. And I think they have the power to do so. It’s just about willingness to do something about it. And I think it’s time for whites to step into battle with our brothers and sisters and make some change and stop just talking about it and actually do something.”
Without having spoken to Lehner, Seguin shared very similar sentiments.
“Definitely being two white guys, to do what we did, I wanted to be a part of that movement if there was an opportunity,” Seguin said. “I wasn’t going to — I can’t say honestly I was going to go out there on my own and take a knee. But with them having a Black player on their team and his beliefs, I’ve said from day one, I’m gonna back it up in ways that I can. That’s why, like I said, I chose to support that, and why I’m very proud of Dicky for standing up and doing what he believes as well.”
Clearly, this is a very different time in America and in professional sports. What was considered controversial and ban-worthy four years ago is now much more widely accepted, and the movement is spreading. Whether it’s through demonstrations during the national anthem or by donating money to certain causes or by sharing anti-racism messages whenever possible (like the Boston Bruins did when making their way to Sunday’s game), athletes across all sports are using their platform to try to speak out in favor of equality in America.
This most recent display involved white players from Canada and Sweden alongside a Black player, and from a team based in Dallas, no less. It shows that the NHL — and Seguin, who carried an “immature” knock with him through the early part of his career — has come a long way in a short time.