Hockey is for Everyone™

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People playing sled hockey, from the vantage of inside the net behind the goalie. Under the Where it's AT logo the text reads Hockey is for Everyone™

We are over a month into the 2022 Stanley Cup Finals, and the competition is getting heated. Unfortunately, none of California’s hockey teams remain in the running, with the LA Kings having faced off against the Edmonton Oilers and exiting in the first round.

As sad as that news is, it’s not the end of the story for California’s current hockey culture. Over two decades ago, the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Diversity Task Force created the “Hockey is for Everyone™” campaign, since then, it has blossomed into a yearlong initiative that “…uses the game of hockey – and the League’s global influence – to drive positive social change and foster more inclusive communities.” Their website continues on to state that “[They] support any teammate, coach or fan who brings heart, energy and passion to the rink. [They] believe all hockey programs – from professionals to youth organizations – should provide a safe, positive and inclusive environment for players and families regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, gender identity or expression, disability, sexual orientation and socio-economic status.”

A team of geared up female hockey players walk in a hallway.

Now, California is a large state, and as a result, we are lucky to have three outstanding hockey teams: The Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks, and the San Jose Sharks. The Kings, unfortunately, only briefly mentions the league wide initiative on their site and links to the league’s declaration of principles page, but our other two teams, the Ducks and the Sharks, have been making impressive strides to manifest this initiative into an actionable path toward ensuring that this outstanding sport is inclusive to everyone.

A sled Hockey player pushes forward on the ice.

The Ducks have an awesome “let’s get everyone playing” approach, providing a broad range of programs that include In-school Initiatives and Girls Hockey Programs, but where they really shine are the disability specific programs outlined on their Hockey is for Everyone homepage.

Ducks make it clear that hockey is a flexible sport that, with minor modifications, anyone can enjoy, regardless of accommodation needs.

A wheelchair user plays street hockey on a court.

The Sharks are taking a wholistic approach, incorporating the diversity of hockey and Sharks fans into the very fiber of their team. You can see this initiative everywhere, including:

Although they do host a Hockey is for Everyone night, Sharks recognize that disabled hockey fans don’t just show up for one night, people with disabilities are members of the hockey community and deserve consideration and accommodations so they can fully participate.

A sled Hockey goalie blocks a shot in front of the net.

It is sad not seeing our local teams fighting it out in the final series when they are working so hard to celebrate the intersectionality of their community, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the excitement of the battle for the Stanley Cup. The National Hockey League’s dedication to ensuring that everyone has an opportunity to experience the joy of hockey is inspiring and worth our recognition. We already know that the Avs are in the final series, but the Bolts and the Rangers seem to be determined to battle it out to the very last game in their conference finals series. We could know as early as this weekend or as late as next Tuesday, but either way it goes, it will be a well-earned shot at the Cup. Good luck, Guys, and we’ll be watching.

A silhouette of a person hoisting the Stanley cup above their head.