Top Minor Leagues Bring Hockey is For Everyone to New Markets in North America
As part of committed efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in hockey, the National Hockey League (NHL®), American Hockey League (AHL), ECHL today announced that the AHL, ECHL and their Member Clubs will join Hockey is For Everyone™, the NHL’s year-long initiative in conjunction with the National Hockey League Players’ Association to emphasize that the official policy of the sport is one of supporting and prioritizing inclusion on the ice, in locker rooms, boardrooms and stands. With the AHL and ECHL joining Hockey is For Everyone™, the campaign will reach new fans as the initiative adds 51 new markets across North America.
Hockey is For Everyone™ focuses on awareness and activities with organizations that celebrate all people who play or watch hockey, including fans of every race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and those with disabilities. AHL and ECHL League and team-wide Hockey is For Everyone™ efforts will be showcased at games through Hockey is For Everyone™ game nights, on social media, and in local communities through grassroots initiatives in the seasons ahead, including for Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Gender Equality Month and Pride Month. Specific details on AHL and ECHL efforts will be released in the coming months.
With the AHL and ECHL joining Hockey is For Everyone™, this expands on each league’s involvement in hockey’s Declaration of Principles, which focuses on the alignment of top hockey leagues around a set of aspirational and shared values, and that hockey programs should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Hockey’s Declaration of Principles states: Hockey should be an enjoyable family experience; all stakeholders – organizations, players, parents, siblings, coaches, referees, volunteers and rink operations – play a role in this effort. The Principles are meant to serve as an internal compass to help guide decisions and shift behaviors of hockey organizations, as well as players, parents, coaches, fans, partners and all those who represent and care for the sport of hockey.
“We’re thrilled to have two of the premier hockey developmental leagues in the world join the Hockey is For Everyone initiative as the campaign continues to grow, and we continually look to make the sport of hockey more diverse, inclusive and welcoming for all,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives & Kim Davis, Legislative Affairs. “The NHL has an unwavering commitment to giving opportunities to all people across the globe, and we will we use the NHL’s influence to push forward vital social change that is needed in today’s society and ensure that hockey is for everyone.”
“The American Hockey League and our teams are proud to continue our efforts in support of the NHL to make the game of hockey more accessible for fans everywhere,” said Scott Howson, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “AHL teams and players have always strived to be influential members of their communities, and our commitment to the ideals of Hockey is For Everyone will strengthen and reinforce those efforts. We greatly value our partnership with the NHL and we look forward to working closely with them to ensure that the many faces of our fan base are welcome in our arenas and can take part in this great game.”
“It is our honor to join the Hockey is For Everyone platform with our partners at the National Hockey League and American Hockey League,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “While we work together with the NHL/AHL on the ice, our commitment off the ice to growing our sport and creating a welcoming environment to celebrate our diversity across the game of hockey is a key pillar of who we are in our communities. Under this great initiative, the ECHL looks forward to furthering existing programs and creating new ones throughout our markets that celebrates the diversity in our league and embraces our togetherness.”
Hockey is For Everyone™ was born from the NHL Diversity Task Force, created in 1995 to assist non-profit hockey organizations across North America that provide opportunities to underrepresented, underprivileged and disadvantaged youth. The following year, Willie O’Ree, the first black player in the NHL, held his first annual Willie O’Ree Skills Weekend, which is still active today. O’Ree was officially hired by the League in 1998 and is an ambassador for positive social change through hockey. Thereafter, the NHLbegan an annual campaign in the month of February to celebrate cultural diversity in the game, which expanded to include the numerous hockey fans and communities that represent every race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and those with disabilities. Beginning with the 2018-19 season, the Hockey is For Everyone™ campaign expanded again from one month to year-round, and includes key celebratory months – Black History Month (February), Gender Equality Month (March), Earth Month (April), LGBTQ+ and Pride Month (June) Hispanic Heritage Month (September)and Hockey Fights Cancer Month (November) with more on the horizon.
NHL and the NHL Shield are registered trademarks and Hockey Is For Everyone name and logo are trademarks of the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.
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About the NHL
The National Hockey League (NHL®), founded in 1917, consists of 31 Member Clubs and proudly welcomes its 32nd franchise, the Seattle Kraken™, for the 2021–2022 season. Each team roster reflects the League’s international makeup with players from more than 20 countries represented, all vying for the most cherished and historic trophy in professional sports—the Stanley Cup®. Gary Bettman has served the NHL as Commissioner since February 1, 1993 and has guided the world’s top professional hockey league to more than $5 billion in annual revenues and partnerships with more than 40 blue chip corporate sponsors. Every year, the NHL entertains more than 670 million fans in-arena and through its partners on national television and radio; more than 151 million followers—league, team, and player accounts combined—across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube; and more than 100 million fans online at NHL.com. The League broadcasts games in more than 160 countries and territories through its rightsholders including NBC/NBCSN and the NHL Network™ in the United States, Sportsnet and TVA in Canada, Viasat in the Nordic Region, Yandex in Russia, and CCTV and Tencent in China. The NHL reaches fans worldwide with games available online in every country, including via its live and on-demand streaming service NHL.TV™. Having entered the eSports world in 2018, the League hosts the NHL Gaming World Championship™ annually, and drew record digital streaming audiences during the 2019 campaign. Fans are engaged across the League’s digital assets on mobile devices via the free NHL® App, across nine social media platforms, on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio™, and on NHL.com, available in eight languages and featuring unprecedented access to player and team statistics as well as every regular-season and playoff game box score dating back to the League’s inception, powered by SAP. The NHL is committed to building healthy and vibrant communities through the sport of hockey by increasing youth participation and engagement; fostering positive family experiences; promoting inclusion, positive culture, and leadership; and supporting sustainable community impact.
About the AHL
In operation since 1936 and with franchises in 31 cities across North America, the the American Hockey League serves as the top development league for the players, coaches, managers, executives and broadcasters of all 31 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of today's NHL players are AHL graduates, and more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame spent time in the AHL during their careers. Seven million fans attend American Hockey League games every season, and the AHL's broadcast reach includes more than 200 televised games each year, with every game also available live via the league's streaming service, AHLTV (theahl.com/AHLTV). The AHL and its clubs are also integral members of their communities, raising and donating millions of dollars to local and national charities annually and giving back through thousands of player, coach and mascot visits to schools, hospitals, libraries and more; donations of game tickets to local charitable groups; and organized drives to collect of items such as food, coats, holiday gifts and hockey equipment. The AHL is also proud to be a partner of the NHL's in initiatives such as the Declaration of Principles, Hockey Fights Cancer, NHL Pride and more. For more information on the American Hockey League, visit theahl.com and follow on Twitter (@TheAHL), Facebook (fb.com/theahl) and Instagram (@TheAHL).
About the ECHL
Began in 1988-89 with five teams in four states, the ECHL has grown into a coast-to-coast league with 26 teams in 19 states and two Canadian provinces for its 33rd season in 2020-21. There have been 678 players who have gone on to play in the National Hockey League after starting their careers in the ECHL, including 16 who made their NHL debuts in the 2019-20 season. The ECHL had affiliations with 25 of the 31 NHL teams in 2019-20, marking the 23rd consecutive season that the league had affiliations with at least 20 teams in the NHL. Further information on the ECHL is available on its website at ECHL.com as well as on Twitter and Facebook.