Until this summer, the NHL never had a Colin Kaepernick moment, an active player kneeling on the ice to protest police brutality.
The league hadn’t had a LeBron James, a household name putting his brand on the line by wearing an “I can’t breathe” T-shirt and rhetorically tussling with a president over racial issues.
There hadn’t been a divide in its fan base over protests during national anthems or whether there’s space in the sport for social activism.
Long before COVID-19 forced games into Edmonton’s and Toronto’s bubbles, hockey lived in its own racial bubble. Historically, the fan base overwhelmingly has been white. The players and coaches overwhelmingly have been white.