Sheldon Kennedy talks safety, inclusion at NHL GMs meeting

Mar 28, 2022, 5:14 AM | Updated: 5:16 pm

MANALAPAN, Fla. (AP) — Sheldon Kennedy never envisioned a moment like this two decades ago.

Kim Davis didn’t see it coming as recently as 2018.

The pair led a discussion Monday with the NHL’s 32 general managers at their annual meeting — their first in-person gathering since March 2020 because of the pandemic — as the league continues its attempt to push forward on the issues of safety, inclusion and respect in the aftermath of the investigation into the Chicago Blackhawks mishandling a player alleging a video coach sexually assaulted him in 2010.

“What I have learned over the years is that if we continually try to put one foot in front of the other and do the right thing, good things happen,” Kennedy said afterward.

Davis, the league’s executive vice-president of social impact, growth initiatives and legislative affairs, called it “an amazingly rich and vulnerable conversation for a group of GMs” and “a huge starting point for us.”

Kennedy, who suited up for parts of eight NHL seasons, has been a voice for victims following his own experience being sexually abused by then-coach Graham James during his time as a junior hockey player. The 52-year-old’s Respect Group organization announced a partnership with the league at December’s board of governors meeting at the same Florida resort.

Kennedy said that while hockey has grown on the ice in recent years, away from the rink is where change needs to continue in a sport that’s historically been slow to embrace new ideas and voices following a string of high-profile events, including more incidents of racism and the Blackhawks scandal.

“One of the catalysts a lot of times for change to happen is when incidents happen,” Kennedy said. “You put your head in the sand, bury yourself and move on or you can acknowledge that, ‘You know what? We need to be better in this space.'”

Toronto’s Kyle Dubas, Winnipeg’s Kevin Cheveldayoff and Dallas’ Jim Nill, who make up an executive board on inclusion, all spoke as part of a panel discussion moderated by Davis.

“An excellent step just to have conversation with everybody,” Dubas said. “Kim and Sheldon were outstanding, but Kevin Cheveldayoff and Jim Nill, as people who’ve been in the game for a very long time, just sharing and be very vulnerable about their experience, that was great for the leadership of the entire initiative and continuing to grow the game in that route.”

The Jets are the only NHL team — management, coaches, players and staff at the club’s parent company included — to complete the prevention training, which is run in conjunction with the league’s Respect Hockey program. The other six Canadian franchises are expected to have it done by the original June 30 target date, but the program requires tweaks in some U.S. jurisdictions.

Cheveldayoff was a member of the Blackhawks front office when former player Kyle Beach’s allegations of abuse by the team’s former video coach were brought to management, and little was done. He’s the only person still employed in the NHL placed at a May 2010 meeting in Chicago to discuss the allegations after being cleared of responsibility by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

“What’s important to us in this process is that this becomes embedded,” Davis said. “That’s the term we’ve been using – embedded in everything that we do. Which means that we want to get it right.”

Kennedy said teams should be prepared for the current generation of players and beyond to expect conversations on uncomfortable issues.

“It’s about keeping it simple,” he said. “If I didn’t have a lived experience, I probably wouldn’t have learned about these issues, because it was never in front of me. Understanding that is huge.”


More AP NHL: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

3 months ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

3 months ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

3 months ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

3 months ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

3 months ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

3 months ago

Sheldon Kennedy talks safety, inclusion at NHL GMs meeting