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AP reporting examines lack of diversity in the NHL

Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, top center, takes a knee during the national anthem, flanked by Chicago Blackhawks’ Malcolm Subban, left, and Edmonton Oilers’ Darnell Nurse, before an NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoff game in Edmonton, Alberta, Aug. 1, 2020. (Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP)

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AP sports writers Stephen Whyno and John Wawrow brought attention to the lack of diversity in the NHL — a league 84% white — with a set of spot stories, interviews and analysis.

The story surfaced as Wawrow, based in Buffalo, New York, started reporting on race in the NHL — a spot check of how the league was doing — as part of AP’s preseason package. It coincided with the release of a documentary called “Black Ice,” which included some disturbing stories of the NHL’s history of race relations.

Wawrow was tipped off that the league would soon be releasing a “race report card” but not knowing the timing of that document, he kept reporting. He reached a current Black player, Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild, who took the unusual step of blasting the league for its slow progress on diversity. Those comments were folded into Wawrow’s story, which played widely with AP members and customers.

AP later learned the league was unhappy with the story, published little more than a week before their report card, and that the NHL’s vice president of diversity met with Dumba to talk things out. But AP still obtained the league’s report in advance, ahead of other news outlets, and was able to conduct interviews for a full story by Wawrow and Washington-based Whyno when the report was released Oct. 18. Whyno then followed up with an analysis piece based on the league’s demographic study.

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