Nazem Kadri on Steve Simmons: ‘He’s just a guy who’s a little dated in his writing’
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Mike Gould1 year ago
Calgary Flames forward Nazem Kadri didn’t take kindly to Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons’ comments about Hockey Diversity Alliance co-founder and ex-Flames forward Akim Aliu.
Simmons, who formerly worked for the Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun in the 1970s and ’80s, published a column on Sunday in which he took a seemingly unprovoked swipe at Aliu.
“No one wants to say this because of the politically correct police and all, but those who coached Akim Aliu must cringe every time they see him in a news report or a commercial talking about what’s wrong with hockey. Like he would know,” Simmons wrote.
“By my count, Aliu played for 23 teams in nine different leagues in 12 professional seasons and rarely finished any season with the same team he started with. If that was colour-related, how is it that Wayne Simmonds spent just about the same 12 seasons playing in the NHL?”
Members of the hockey community were quick to denounce Simmons’ comments, including the two players named in his story. Both Aliu and Simmonds shared social media posts on Sunday night striking back at the Sun columnist.
“I really don’t appreciate what you’re trying to do,” Simmonds tweeted. “Your article was asinine and in no way reflects the real plight that myself, Akim, and other players of colour go through.”
“You’re a racist and you’re arrogant, and you have zero credibility and respect from even your own peers in the media space and athletes alike. And if the Toronto Sun had any integrity whatsoever, you would never write another column again,” Aliu added in a video response titled “Hate will never win.”
Fellow Hockey Diversity Alliance member Anthony Duclair also fired a rebuke at Simmons on Twitter, calling him “an absolute clown” who has “no clue what we’ve all been through.”
Kadri, himself a member of the HDA and someone who played in Toronto during Simmons’ time as a reporter in the city, expressed many similar sentiments to the media on Monday. TSN reporter Salim Valji subsequently shared Kadri’s comments on social media.
“It’s unfortunate when a guy like that tries to discredit somebody and, you know, act like they’ve been there and know it [experiencing racism in hockey], which obviously isn’t the case. He’d be the last guy to know anything about that,” Kadri said. “He’s always been a writer that’s kind of been on the line and created a lot of controversy so people can read his articles. So for us, you know, you’ve just got to brush it aside and continue to do the great things we’ve done.”
Kadri added that Simmons “definitely wouldn’t want to see” the conversation about his column in the Hockey Diversity Alliance’s private group chat.
“I think, like I’ve said, this kind of stuff we obviously are too familiar with. Strength in numbers, we all try to stick together,” Kadri said. “At the end of the day, we’re doing this for all the right reasons. He’s just a guy who’s a little dated in his writing.”
Aliu suited up for the only seven NHL games of his career with the Flames during the 2011–12 and 2012–13 seasons, scoring two goals and an assist. He co-founded the Hockey Diversity Alliance in 2020.
Kadri, 32, signed a seven-year contract with the Flames in August just two months after winning the Stanley Cup as a member of the Colorado Avalanche. He started his NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010 before being traded to Colorado in 2019.
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