Nazem Kadri is a NHL hockey player with the Colorado Avalanche who was born in London,  Canada, is of Lebanese decent, and practices the Muslim faith.  He is known to be an outstanding impact hockey player, so much so that in 2022 he was voted by fans in the Avalanche’s Central Division to be the “Last Man” in the NHL All Star Game- an honor for an elite few. But this seems to fade to the background in the discussion  of the recent Stanley Cup playoff game collision between Kadri, Blues defenseman Callie Rosen, and the St. Louis Blues’ goalie Jordan Binnington.

Kadri and Rosen fell into Binnington, and the three went sprawling into the net. However, what is being “heard” and emphasized is how Kadri is a “dirty player”. In fact, the racist comments and death threats have become so severe that the police have been brought in to investigate.

In DEI work, we talk about microaggressions. These are insults that feel like “pin pricks”  based on people’s differences. The abuse that Kadri has received is a prime example of this and here is why:

  1. First of all, one of the biggest challenges is helping people  involved in perpetrating microaggressions to understand what they do not see or know or “hear”. In this case, the fact that the Blues’  defenseman Callie Rosen was driving to the net and pushed Kadri in with him is almost completely lost in the conversation. What is getting focused on is Kadri’s involvement and he is being demonized for it.
  1. Secondly, in response to the multitude of “hits”  to players in the NHL every season,  majority group players (white men in the NHL) are more likely to be praised for their hits but for diverse players, like Kadri, racism raises its ugly head.  Majority group players (white men In the NHL)  in similar collisions are not vilified on social media, told to “change their religion”, “go back to where they belong”, and have their lives threatened. 
  1. In fact, the response towards NHL majority group white men is generally quite the opposite. For example,  when Vincent Trocheck settled a “virtual spat” with Bruins’ Brad Marchand, Trocheck was admirably described as “…wrapping Marchand around a telephone pole mid-game”, a hit that left Marchand lying motionless on the ice. And when the St Louis Blues’ Ivan Barbashev delivered a season ending blow to Colorado Avalanche’s Sammy Girard in this same playoff series, Barbashev’s  hit on Girard was described as “…one of the biggest hits we will see in this year’s Stanley Cup…this monstrous hit… the much bigger Barbashev saw an opportunity to punish him (Girard) with the body, and boy did he ever do just that. Barbashev would absolutely crush the much smaller Girard along the boards…”.  Girard left the game with a broken sternum. For Barbashev? No penalty, no racist statements on social media, and no death threats. 

Kadri said that he relied on “mental toughness” to get him through this racist cancer, and others in his career. In the next game against the Blues, played in St Louis, of the Kadri posted the first road hat trick  ( three goals in a single game) in the Avalanche’s postseason history, which became not only the go-ahead goal, but  also the eventual game-winner. Good for you Nazem! I salute you and want you to know that I will continue to work to do anything I can to stop destructive forces of hate and ignorance in the world. I hope the world wakes up and joins us.