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Ex-Leaf Fraser puts call to hockey to stay strong in support of racial equality

Mark Fraser (right) says he has endured racism his whole life.
Mark Fraser (right) says he has endured racism his whole life.

Mark Fraser is the latest hockey player to put a voice behind his experiences with racism in the sport.

In a powerful piece titled Silence is Violence published on The Players’ Tribune web site on Friday, Fraser, a native of Ottawa who played in 219 games in the National Hockey League with the New Jersey Devils, Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, said he has known prejudice his “whole life” and that the same issues that plagued black players such as Willie O’Ree, Tony McKegney, Val James or Claude Vilgrain in the past are the same issues black hockey players have to deal with today.

Fraser cited incidents involving himself, the revelations this past season by Akim Aliu of incidents of racism and the hacking of a recent Zoom call involving New York Rangers prospect K’Andre Miller by someone using racist slurs of what black players have had to endure more recently.

Fraser also said he was “brought to tears” last week as he watched the video of George Floyd being killed by a Minneapolis police officer.

Strong was the message Fraser sent to the greater hockey community, including those who have made their support public via social media.

“Know that what’s happening in America today is a reflection of some of the hate your black teammates and friends feel just from looking different,” Fraser wrote. “So please don’t stop making noise. Please don’t go silent. Silence is violence in this case. Be proud to know that you are not only standing on the right side of the fence, but you are also actively using your voices and letting yourself be heard in support of our cause and our fight for justice and equality.

“Show us your love. Show us you love us. Social media posts are great, but it can’t end there. Don’t let an Instagram story be the only thing you did. That’s not enough. We need more.”

A day earlier, Fraser tweeted his support for another ex-Leaf and ex-Oiler, retired goaltender Ben Scrivens, who tweeted about the issue of racism on Wednesday. In a retweet of Scrivens’ tweet, Fraser tweeted: “Attention white athletes! @Ben_Scrivens knows what’s up. If you want to know how to react, what to do, what action to ACTUALLY take, PLEASE read this.”

In his tweet, Scrivens, who has spent the past two years earning a master’s degree in social work following the conclusion of his hockey career, wondered whether messages of solidarity posted in recent days by current players were because of expediency, and how much follow-through we will see from white players.

Scrivens said it would have been “more meaningful” to see players’ messages of support immediately after Bill Peters resigned as coach of the Calgary Flames last November following allegations of racist comments from Aliu, the Zoom call involving Miller, or after Aliu’s recent story published on the Players’ Tribune.


Support for racial equality came via a video on Friday created by former NHL player Anson Carter, titled ‘In Union There is Strength.’

Among those hockey types appearing in the minute-long video were Carter, P.K. Subban, Gary Bettman, Angela James, O’Ree, Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.

The participants said: “You don’t have to look like George Floyd to understand that what happened to him was wrong.”

Carter tweeted: “I’m so PROUD to be a part of the NHL community. Leaders came together WITHOUT hesitation lending their incredibly powerful voices to an important issue that impacts players and our fans!”


Washington Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby, during a conference call, on his passionate plea this week on Twitter for racial equality: “I had been thinking about what to say for over a week, and trying for it to resonate to the black community of what I believe the white community should take responsibility for. And I don’t think this is the time to sugarcoat anything. It’s a time to look at ourselves in the mirror and really find how we can be better and how we can take responsibility for the past and learn from that to move forward.” … Not surprisingly, the NHL team run by Lou Lamoriello will be set to hit the ice in accordance with Phase 2 of the NHL’s Return to Play plan. “We will be ready to open up on Monday,” Lamoriello, the president and general manager of the New York Islanders, said. “We have satisfied all the protocols, checked all the boxes with references to the facility, the medical part and the testing part of it. As far as how many players will be coming or when they will start, I could not give that answer yet. We will make it available to the players. The preparation has been extremely diligent. This is with consultation of outside consultants, infectious disease experts, medical doctors, all of the above, all of the different protocols we have as far as number of players, setup of locker rooms, the time frame. It’s all going to be individual, unique and it’s all voluntary. When they are comfortable to come back, we’ll be ready for them.” … The Buffalo Sabres announced that forward Kyle Okposo underwent successful surgery on his right knee this week and is expected to make a full recovery in six weeks.

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