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1st NHL player to kneel during national anthem will now raise his arm

Matt Dumba also gave an impassioned speech about the need to fight for justice.
/ Source: TODAY

Matt Dumba, a defenseman with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild who became the first player in the league to kneel during the national anthem, says he will raise a fist from now on during the song.

Dumba, who is Filipino Canadian, knelt before the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks squared off Saturday in a Western Conference playoff qualifying game at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada, one of two hub cities where the league has restarted its season.

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Matt Dumba kneels during national anthem
Malcolm Subban of the Chicago Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers place their hands on Dumba during the American national anthem before the Oilers-Blackhawks game on Saturday.Dave Sandford / Getty Images

"I know why I knelt and it wasn’t a sign of disrespect by any means," the seven-year NHL veteran said about his gesture, according to "It was to shed light on the people who’ve lived through the injustice and oppression, especially in my home state of Minnesota. That's why I did it.

"I think my biggest regret is not doing it for the Canadian national anthem as well because there is a lot of light that needs to be shed on what is happening in Canada and the oppression First Nations people have felt for hundreds of years."

Malcolm Subban of the Blackhawks and Darnell Nurse of the Oilers, who are Black Canadian players, placed their hands on Dumba's shoulders while he knelt.

Matt Dumba raises fist during national anthem
Dumba raises his fist during the national anthem before the Wild's game against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.Andy Devlin / NHLI via Getty Images

Dumba, 26, said he will raise his fist for both the American and Canadian anthems for the remainder of his team’s run in the playoffs.

"(Teammate JT Brown and I) talked and if you're not in the starting lineup, you might be on the bench and if I kneel I might be on the bench and not even able to see me," he said.

Dumba followed through on that pledge when he lifted his arm before the Wild defeated the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Before the Blackhawks and Oilers played, Dumba, wearing a Hockey Diversity Alliance sweatshirt, also delivered a speech on racism while a message reading “End racism” showed on the scoreboard above center ice.

"During this pandemic, something unexpected but long overdue occurred. The world woke up to the existence of systematic racism and how deeply rooted it is within our society," he said.

"Racism is a man-made creation and all it does is deteriorate from our collective prosperity. Racism is everywhere. Racism is everywhere and we need to fight against it,” he added.