ST. PAUL — Wild defenseman Matt Dumba became the first player in NHL history to kneel for the U.S. national anthem on Saturday afternoon inside the league’s bubble in Edmonton, Alta. He did so immediately after giving a moving speech about fighting racism within the sport.

It’s something Dumba has faced since he was a kid and something he knows kids continue to face in present day.

That’s why on the eve of the Wild qualifying series against the Vancouver Canucks, with so many tuning in to the NHL restart, Dumba used his platform to reach as many people as possible.

He talked about racism being “a man-made creation” that some people have the privilege to ignore. He acknowledged that some people might be getting tired of hearing the message as a whole. He literally said the words “Black Lives Matter” and promised to continue the conversation regardless of the circumstance.

As for the act of taking a knee during the U.S. national anthem, Dumba eloquently explained his reasoning, adding that his only regret is not kneeling for the Canadian national anthem, too. He said he will raise his fist for both anthems throughout the NHL postseason.

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“I know why I knelt,” Dumba said. “It wasn’t a sign of disrespect by any means. It was to shed light on the people who have lived through the injustice and oppression, especially in my home state of Minnesota. That’s why I did it.

“There is a lot of light that needs to be shed on what is happening in Canada, too, and the oppression First Nations people have felt for hundreds of years,” Dumba added. “I was disappointed looking back on it because I knew the reasons why I knelt. Just in the moment it happened like that.”

All of it took remarkable courage from Dumba, especially given the culture surrounding the sport itself.

It’s no secret that the NHL is a predominantly white league with a predominantly white audience. There simply aren’t as many minorities in the NHL as, say, the NBA and the NFL, and because of that any mention of race is oftentimes ill-received.

Just take a look at Dumba’s mentions on social media. It’s a cesspool filled with some of the worst people imaginable.

Not that Dumba is fazed in the slightest. Asked for his message to the haters, Dumba smirked and replied, “Keep it coming.”

“It kind of sheds a light on them and the people that follow them — their friends, their family — can see their beliefs and how they view the world and see the negative light that they’re trying to shed on this,” Dumba added. “For all the people who have the courage in their fingertips sitting behind that keyboard, I know half the stuff they wouldn’t say to my face if I was standing right in front of them.”

There have been baby steps in the right direction over the past couple of months, including Dumba helping form the Hockey Diversity Alliance, an organization founded by players of color to combat racial injustice and inequality in the sport. He rocked a Hockey Diversity Alliance hoodie during his cameo at Rogers Place on Saturday afternoon with a graphic that read “END RACISM” plastered on screens throughout the arena.

It’s a start. Now the NHL needs to keep the momentum going.

To do that, the NHL needs more players like Dumba as it continues this fight. Some white players, like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, among others, have spoken out against racism in the past couple of months

That said, the conversation as a whole has seemed to fall by the wayside with so many shifting their focus to the NHL restart.

That’s why Dumba’s message was so important. This isn’t going away anytime soon, and thus, the NHL can’t lose sight of what’s important.

“We are very optimistic and I believe the NHL is, too,” Dumba said speaking on behalf of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. “We both know to make a substantial change in our game and in our world we have to partner with each other.”