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Florida Panthers, Anthony Duclair support #TapeOutHate movement

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Anthony Duclair and a number of his Florida Panthers players wrapped their stick blade in special tape which reads ‘Racism Has No Place in Hockey’ before Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

SUNRISE — Around the NHL, teams and players have come together to support the Hockey Diversity Alliance’s #TapeOutHate campaign by wrapping their sticks in special tape which reads ‘Racism Has No Place in Hockey.’ Yes, the Florida Panthers were one of those teams thanks in big part to Anthony Duclair.

A founding member of the HDA, Duclair and a number of his Florida teammates used up the few rolls of the highly-sought after tape during warmups before Friday’s game against the Dallas Stars.

“I’m so proud of my guys, that’s for sure,” Duclair said after the game.

“I sent out a group text earlier today letting them know we were going to use the tape, and everyone jumped on board right away to support the cause.

“I really appreciate that from the boys from the bottom of my heart. It’s a really good cause. I’m really happy that the organization backed me up as well. Our media team and our management have done a great job all this week promoting it. We’re happy to use it.”

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Duclair took part in a powerful commercial last week condemning racism in hockey and promoting the tape his teammates put on their sticks.

“When you get more diversity in the game, it is only going to make the game better,” Duclair said in the spot which was sponsored by Budweiser and has run over-the-air in Canada and has gone viral worldwide.

Panthers interim coach Andrew Brunette was proud of Duclair, to say the least.

“I think he’s stepped up and he’s taken that challenge on,” Brunette said. “I know as a player, there’s many things you have have to worry about in your own game. …

“To see him put the time in, it’s not easy, and he’s been exceptional. He’s done an extraordinary job making sure everybody’s aware, he’s a spokesman for it, these are things he doesn’t have to do. He’s very selfless in that matter and I’m proud of all the work he puts into that.”

As Brunette makes clear, Duclair has been leading the charge both with the HDA and on the ice for the Panthers.

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Florida Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas shows off his stick wrapped in tape which reads “Racism Has No Place in Hockey” on Friday night. // Photo courtesy @FlaPanthers

He currently leads the team in goals with 16 while holding a point-per-game pace at 30 points in 30 games.

But while things on the ice are going well, there is still a lot of work to be done as far as making hockey truly open for everyone.

At both the junior and professional levels, there have been countless headlines of racist activity in the sport.

From former coach Bill Peters calling Akim Aliu the n-slur, to Hockey P.E.I. suspending a junior player for criticizing the handling of a racist incident, it is apparent that racism is very much prevalent in hockey.

In Florida, two now-former NHL off-ice officials who worked Lightning games are suing the NHL claiming they were fired after reporting a fellow off-ice official who made racist comments for years.

“We need our allies,” members of the HDA said during the spot. “We need the fans and everyone on board to get this moving.”

The Panthers, as well as Brunette, are set on taking on the issue and making the sport better for everyone.

“It’s such an important cause and we’re very aware of it,” Brunette said. “We always want to support and make awareness to this and I think it’s important for society.

“Any little thing we can do to help, we’re always willing to do.”

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